Liverpool will face Benfica in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and will only play an English side if they and Manchester City or Chelsea reach the final in Paris
Jurgen Klopp has admitted his relief at avoiding Manchester City and Chelsea in Friday’s Champions League draw, which revealed Liverpool’s path to the final.
The Reds will face Portuguese giants Benfica in the last eight of the competition, with the winners taking on either Villarreal or Bayern Munich in the semi-final. City, meanwhile, will take on Atletico Madrid and defending champions Chelsea will face Real Madrid.
The draw means Liverpool will only play a Premier League side if they and City or Chelsea reach the final. Klopp’s side have a mixed record against English teams in Europe, beating Manchester United and Tottenham but losing to City.
Benfica are currently third in their domestic league and haven’t won a European title since 1962. Their former manager Bela Guttman apparently put a curse on the club in the 1960s, insisting they wouldn’t win another European title for 100 years. Since then, they’ve lost eight European finals.
“I would have taken everybody but the only thing I didn’t want was an English team,” said Klopp when asked about the draw on Friday afternoon.
“We had that in the past and we went through, we played a final against an English team, it’s absolutely fine, in the final anyway you take whoever you get. We play [the English clubs] often enough during a season and it’s good if you play somebody else.”
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Liverpool are aiming to win an unprecedented quadruple. They’ve already lifted the EFL Cup and sit second in the Premier League, one point behind City. They’ve also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, traveling to Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon.
Forest are enjoying a good campaign under Steve Cooper. They’ve already dumped Premier League sides Arsenal and Leicester out of the FA Cup and are currently ninth in the Championship, three points behind Blackburn in sixth with three games in hand.
Defender Djed Spence, who is on loan at the City Ground from Middlesbrough, has been linked with several top European sides – including Arsenal, Tottenham and Bayern Munich. Captain Lewis Grabban, meanwhile, has 12 Championship goals this term.
Forest are one of the most decorated teams in England – winning two European Cups under Brian Clough in 1979 and 1980 – but haven’t played in the Premier League this century and were even a League One club between 2005 and 2008.
On the cup tie, Klopp added: “If we take only a little bit off the gas… not even fully, just a little bit – gone. Three competitions, ‘See you later.’ No chance. If we just go in that direction thinking, ‘That’s a little bit of a relief’ [the FA Cup] that would be a problem.
“Yes, they are a Championship side but one in a really good moment. You can see how they set up in a system, big talent in the team as well – probably the whole Premier League is after them.”