Three worst possible teams Liverpool could draw in Champions League play-off
COMMENT By Derek Smithson
Liverpool will face one of 10 potential opponents for a place in the Champions League group stages of the 2017/18 season.
The draw will take place on 4 August for the European sides and the Merseyside club have been seeded.
Jurgen Klopp’s side will be hoping for a favourable fixture after they earned a spot in the play-offs for finishing fourth in the Premier League.
They could face CSKA Moscow (Russia), Nice (France), Hoffenheim (Germany), Club Brugge (Belgium), Sporting Lisbon (Portugal), Viktora Plzen (Czech Republic), Steaua Bucharest (Romania), Young Boys (Switzerland), Istanbul BB (Turkey) and AEK Athens (Greece).
Here, Football Insider looks at the three most difficult teams that could stand in Liverpool’s way.
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CSKA finished second in the Russian division last season and are regulars in the Champions League group stages. Liverpool would definitely fear travelling to a hostile ground for an away leg and would be lining up against a strong outfit. They have several star names in their side including the likes of midfielder Roman Eremenko and Alan Dzagoev, plus experienced goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. They will be expecting to make it into Europe’s elite club competition and are arguably the best non-seeded team in the play-offs. The two teams have only faced each other once in their competitive history when Liverpool won a UEFA Super Cup in 2005, but the gap between the sides is much closer now.
Liverpool could seriously fear facing French outfit Nice in the play-offs as they have enjoyed a fantastic domestic season recently. They finished third in their league and were only trailing Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, while finishing above the likes of Lyon and Marseille. Klopp will also fear Nice striker Mario Balotelli, who would certainly be looking to prove a point against his former side. The striker scored 17 goals in just 28 appearances last season for Nice, while they also have star players in defender Dante and midfielder Yours Belhanda.
German club Hoffenheim were one of the surprises of the season in the Bundesliga in the last campaign and will be desperate to make the Champions League group stages. They finished fourth in the German league table and were only two points adrift of Borussia Dortmund. They have a talented crop of players including German pair Niklas Rule and Sebastian Rudy. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s shaky defence would certainly be tested by former Leicester forward Andrej Kramaric, who scored 18 goals in 36 appearances last season.
In other Liverpool news, a reliable journalist has detailed the five areas the club need to address in the summer.