Liverpool don’t return to Champions League action until the new year, with the first leg of their Round of 16 tie away to RB Leipzig on February 16th. With the first knockout round draw taking place on Monday, though, it’s one of this week’s main talking points.
And so while Jürgen Klopp and the Reds may not be preparing for them quite yet, the Liverpool manager today reacted to the draw, and about the challenge Leipzip will pose for his side—considered favourites for their European tie but hardly overwhelmingly so.
“Pretty much as tough as it gets,” was Klopp’s read on their future opponents. “Leipzig played in the semi-final last year and this year look good again. In a very difficult, tricky group they went through and says pretty much everything about them, outstanding.
“I think because they played in the semi-final last year, probably English people now know them better. It will be a tough one. It’s the last 16 of the Champions League—how can you find 15 other clubs who are not strong in Europe when you play in this competition?”
Of note for many English fans and pundits will be that Leipzig’s place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League came at the expense of Manchester United, as they beat Liverpool’s historic rivals in the final group game to finish second ahead of them.
Klopp, though, isn’t much concerned about their results against another English side, seeing Leipzig as a difficult opponent regardless and one that his players will have to be at their best if they’re to get past them in two months when European play resumes.
“For them the fact they finished above [Manchester United] is good for them and helps them rather than us,” Klopp added. “It’s not the oldest club, but they are doing a really good job. I respect a lot what they are doing. I’m looking forward to the games, honestly.”