The new Champions League campaign started preparations on Thursday with the draw for the upcoming group stages. Liverpool’s men were drawn against Ajax, Rangers, and Napoli from the four pots, with the meeting against Rangers being the first time the two sides will have played against each other competitively.
“The first thing to say is this is a proper, proper challenge,” manager Jürgen Klopp said to the club website following the draw.
“All of the clubs have quality, they all have pedigree and I would say they all have a chance. The good thing is that we do also, so it makes sense for us to look forward to the challenge and give it a try.
“We did not ask for any favours and we have not been given any but this is not a competition where you can look for easy ways through because the standard is always unbelievably high.
“The difference this year is that the group stage will be shorter than usual, so we will have to be ready not just for the quality of the opposition but also for the different demands and rhythms.”
Napoli is likely the team that fans are dreading the most, having watched Liverpool struggle against them in recent years. Even Ajax is not a new opponent, with Liverpool having played them in the group stage of 2020-21 and winning both matches.
“We will not have to look too hard to find information about our opponents, though,” Klopp continued.
“It was only a couple of years back that we played two really tough matches against Ajax and we get drawn against Napoli pretty regularly, so we know quite a bit about both of them and they know quite a bit about us. I know there will also be some new lessons to be learned, though. There always are.
“Rangers are a new opponent for us but we know them, too. Their story over the last few years has been really interesting and they did really, really well to qualify for the group stage, given the teams they were up against in the qualifying matches.
“We also know a couple of their players well. Ryan Kent has had a great development since moving to Scotland and Ben Davies is just starting out on his journey with Rangers, so it will be good to come up against them.
“The only certainty right now is that all of the six games will be incredibly competitive and really intense. I’m excited about it. It is a proper football group and, like I said, a proper challenge.”
The group stage is scheduled to start September 6/7, with the confirmed dates to be determined.