There will always be difficult sides to face if you are to make it deep into the Champions League, but the hope is that you can save the biggest and most difficult matchups for the later knockout rounds and the finals.
For Liverpool, though, this time around, if they’re to make it deep into the Champions League, they will have to beat arguably the toughest opponent they could have drawn for the Round of 16. Atletico Madrid.
There may be bigger sides in the competition, and maybe even bigger sides that Liverpool could have drawn with Real Madrid on the table, but for most it was stubborn, defensive Atleti that looked the toughest test.
The first leg will take place in February, with the Reds returning to the scene of last season’s European triumph, the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. The second leg will then take place in March. It will be a tough tie.
But it will still be a tie that the Reds are favoured in, and rightly so, and for all that Atleti were the side most fans didn’t want to draw for the Round of 16, Liverpool are the side that nobody in Pot 2 would have wanted.
Liverpool are ten points clear and top of their league. They’re defending European Champions. And they’ll be favourites to advance—would have been no matter who they’d drawn for the Round of 16.
And last year they drew as difficult an opponent as they could have, with Bayern Munich the opponents at this stage. Atleti are tough, but they they’re fifth in Spain while Bayern were and are German champions.
Elsewhere in the draw, Dortmund drew Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid drew Manchester City, Atalanata drew Valencia, Chelsea drew Bayern, Lyon drew Juventus, Tottenham drew Leipzig, and Napoli drew Barcelona.