Liverpool secured their place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time since 2009 a week ago when they demolished Spartak Moscow. Today, they learned their reward: they will face off against Group G runners-up FC Porto over two legs early in the new year.
On paper at least it seems a kind draw for The Reds, missing out on some big league powerhouse clubs and avoiding a long trip to Eastern Europe. There are no easy draws at this stage, though, and so Jürgen Klopp is mostly happy just to know who the opponent is and to be getting on with it.
“It’s just good that we now know it,” Liverpool’s manager told the club’s official website. “Last Wednesday, when we knew we were still involved, we didn’t care who we would get. It was clear it would be a strong side. Porto are a strong side, first in the Portuguese league and always good.
“This year again they’re a difficult side to play. They came through in a difficult group. They kept Leipzig—a really good side in Germany—behind them. It will be interesting. It’s good that we have the first game at Porto, then in March we meet them at Anfield. We are really looking forward to it.”
In the hours since the draw, the dates have been set, and fans looking to travel—or just to set aside some time in their daily schedules—know the first leg will be away to Porto on February 14th. The extended nature of the Round of 16 in the Champions League means the return isn’t until March 6th.
The two clubs have faced off four times in their history, and to date, Porto have never beaten Liverpool. Most recently, they faced each other in the Champions League qualifying round in 2007, with Liverpool winning the first leg at Anfield 4-1 before drawing the second 1-1 to advance to group play.
“We dreamt of this,” Klopp added, “so we are really looking forward to playing the games. But I think we have 20 games from now until then—so a few things to do until then!”