On Thursday night, Liverpool learned their 2019-20 Champions League group stage opponents as UEFA held its yearly draw. The reigning Champions League winners were drawn in Group E alongside Italy’s Napoli, Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg, and Belgium’s Genk.
On paper, Liverpool’s draw is far kinder than it was last season when they faced off against Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade.
Napoli will be out to exact revenge on Liverpool in this year’s competition. Carlo Ancelotti’s men were defeated by Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield in their final group match last season. The loss eliminated Napoli from making the knockout round as Liverpool were victorious in the must-win match.
Liverpool played Napoli in preseason at Murrayfield in Edinburgh losing 3-0. The Reds have improved since that preseason loss and will be considered Group E’s favourites for progression to the knockout stage.
Checking odds posted by leading bookies following the Champions League draw saw Liverpool with the third-best odds to win the competition at 7/1. The Reds were only behind Manchester City and Barcelona in terms of odds. Jurgen Klopp’s team received the best odds to win Group E at 4/9.
The initial reaction to Liverpool’s draw was positive as thoughts of Liverpool qualifying for the knockout round prior to a ball being kicked were high.
Although the six-time European champions are familiar with Napoli, the Reds are less so with Genk and Red Bull Salzburg. Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Naby Keita both cut their teeth with the Austrian club before moving on elsewhere.
Jurgen Klopp’s reaction to Champions League draw
Klopp spoke to LiverpoolFC.com following the Champions League draw giving his thoughts on the Reds’ group.
“Napoli again! I don’t know how often I’ve now played against Napoli, but they’re obviously a very experienced side,” Klopp said.
“I will need now to have another, closer look at Genk and Salzburg, but I already know they are very young, very exciting and very fresh, so it will be interesting 100 per cent.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played against Salzburg or Genk, so that’s interesting. It’s how it always is, it’s not an easy group and not a group where we can hide behind anybody.
“We have to try everything to go through, but we are really looking forward to it like always. Now we know the opponents when we were walking off the pitch from training I immediately spoke with Divock about playing Genk!
“We will do our analysis and research on all three teams, but we know they all played exceptional seasons last year.
“Of course, Salzburg are famous for bringing through new players, like they did with Sadio and Naby – they’ve found a lot of others, too. It will be really interesting.”
The Champions League group stage begins on 17 and 18 September.
Klopp finished his conversation with the club’s official website by saying:
“It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I’m really looking forward to it. How everybody knows, everybody in Liverpool enjoys Champions League football, so it will be great. European nights at Anfield, everybody is welcome. And let’s do it as well as we can.”
To read the full interview and more, check out LiverpoolFC.com.