Ask one Liverpool fan who they wanted in the Round of 16 and the answer might have been Barcelona and a chance to seek revenge for the Phil Coutinho saga. Others, though, would have wanted to avoid the La Liga leaders at any cost.
Ask another and a rematch against Porto, seen by many as the weakest first seed in the draw, would be it. Yet going up against the same side as last season feels a little as though it would defeat the whole purpose of being in the Champions League.
Ask a third and the answer might have been Bayern Munich. A giant, one Liverpool haven’t faced since 2001. A giant, but also maybe not in top form. A giant, and one with something of a history with Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.
“It was clear it would be difficult,” was Klopp’s own reaction to Monday’s draw. “They are obviously a top side. For me it’s nice, going to Germany. But it’s just the draw. So we have now time to prepare the game, a lot of time obviously.
“Hopefully we have all our players available. It will be a tough one, an interesting one, and I am looking forward to it. It’s a really nice trip for all our supporters, it’s a wonderful city, so that’s all good. In the end, the boys have to decide it on the pitch.”
In a Round of 16 with a lot of interesting pairings, it’s the one that stands out. Germany’s biggest club against their current top manager. A club that has been a dominant force in Europe for the past decade against, just maybe, the current in-form side.
And while Liverpool will be playing Bayern in a competitive match for the first time since 2001’s Super Cup—a Reds victory—for Klopp there will be a chance to get one over on them after his Dortmund side lost to Bayern in 2013’s Champions League final.
If he’s thinking about that, though, he’s not letting on. At least not for public consumption. But Klopp knows how good Bayern are—how good they can be. He also knows that he has built a team now at Liverpool good enough to beat anyone in Europe.
“At the end it’s a football game on the highest level and we have to play it,” he added. “We knew it before. It’s not like anybody thought ‘thank God it’s Liverpool,’ and we don’t think ‘thank God it’s Bayern.’ It’s a tough one. That’s how it should be.
“It’s the last 16 of the Champions League so there are only tough teams in and I’m really excited about it.”