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Europa League last 16 draw: Who could Liverpool face?

Europa League last 16 draw: Who could Liverpool face?
© Reuters
Ahead of the Europa League last 16 draw, Sports Mole looks at the potential opponents that Liverpool could be drawn against among the eight unseeded sides.

The Europa League last-16 draw will take place in Nyon on Friday morning, as Liverpool will discover who their first knockout opponents will be this season.

Eight teams sealed their place in the last 16 following the culmination of the playoff round on Thursday night, which pitted the sides who dropped out of the Champions League against those who finished runners-up in the Europa League group stage.

As group winners, finishing ahead of Toulouse, Union SG and LASK Linz in Group E, Liverpool skipped past the playoff round and qualified directly for the last 16.

Fellow British clubs West Ham United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Rangers all won their respective groups too and will enter the draw at this stage.

Here, Sports Mole looks at who Liverpool could be drawn in against in Friday morning's draw.


WHO COULD LIVERPOOL FACE?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on February 4, 2024© Reuters

With all the English sides being seeded after finishing top of their respective groups, all options are open for Jurgen Klopp's side heading into the draw, with no potential national clashes.

Only half of the clubs on the unseeded side of the draw currently play in one of Europe's top five leagues, but there are two potentially tricky opponents from Portugal in the form of joint-leaders Benfica and Sporting Lisbon.

Arguably the strongest side in the draw is AC Milan, as last season's Champions League semi-finalists saw off Rennes to book their place in the last 16, after finishing third behind Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in the group stages of the UCL.

Milan's Italian compatriots Roma were the final side to book their place in this round, as their clash with Feyenoord was the only tie on Thursday across the two competitions to go to penalties.

Despite Romelu Lukaku's early miss in the shootout, Roma recovered to beat Feyenoord for the third straight season in Europe, keeping up the fine start that they have made under Daniele De Rossi.

The two other sides representing Europe's top five leagues are Marseille of France and Freiburg from Germany.

Both had to come from behind on home soil to secure narrow progression, and indifferent league form means that Liverpool could do worse than being drawn against either of these two, with Marseille and Freiburg also struggling in mid-table domestically.

In one of the ties of the round, Sparta Prague became the third Czech side to reach the last 16 across UEFA's competitions this season, beating Galatasaray 6-4 on aggregate in a clash that saw the pendulum swing on more than one occasion.

Sparta will be the dream draw for match-going supporters, considering that the Czech capital is, with reason, one of the most popular destinations for tourists anywhere in Europe.

Only the most hardened of fans will be getting their passports at the ready should Liverpool be drawn against the weakest side left in the competition though, and that is Qarabag FK, who dramatically beat Braga with a 122nd-minute strike in the Azeri capital Baku on Thursday.

Qarabag have become the first side ever from Azerbaijan to reach this stage of a UEFA competition, and will themselves likely have Liverpool on their wishlist in hopes of a glamorous European away trip.


POTS


Seeded:
Liverpool (ENG)
Brighton & Hove Albion (ENG)
West Ham United (ENG)
Rangers (SCO)
Atalanta BC (ITA)
Villarreal (ESP)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Slavia Prague (CZE)

Unseeded:
AC Milan (ITA)
Benfica (POR)
Sporting Lisbon (POR)
Roma (ITA)
Marseille (FRA)
Freiburg (GER)
Sparta Prague (CZE)
Qarabag FK (AZE)

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