Monday 18 December 2017

Liverpool face tough draw in next season's Champions League – even if they win Premier League

Brendan Rodgers believes home form can be crucial for Liverpool's title hopes
Brendan Rodgers believes home form can be crucial for Liverpool's title hopes

Mark Ogden

Liverpool face the daunting prospect of a Champions League group including Bayern Munich and Juventus next season, even if Brendan Rodgers’ team end the club’s 24-year wait for the league title in the final weeks of this campaign.

With the five-time European champions closing in on a return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2009-10 season, the four-year exile from the competition has left the club languishing in 32nd position in Uefa’s co-efficient table.

Manchester City, who have been forced to navigate so-called ‘Groups of Death’ in their three seasons in the competition, will find themselves elevated from Pot Three to Pot Two next season as a result of their progression to the knock-out stages of this year’s Champions League and Manchester United’s likely absence from next year’s tournament.

But even if Liverpool secure Champions League qualification by winning the Premier League, their Uefa ranking will dictate their seeding position next season and the best they can hope for is a place in Pot Three.

Uefa’s club coefficient rankings are based on a team’s results over the five previous seasons of the Champions League and Europa League - with seedings generated accordingly based on a club’s position in the table.

So the nightmare prospect for Liverpool would see them paired with Bayern and Juventus or Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in next season’s group stage.

Alternatively, Liverpool could be fortunate and land Benfica or Porto from Pot One, with the likes of FC Basel or Zenit St Petersburg from Pot Two.

Uefa’s co-efficient table continues to be updated following every round of the Champions League and Europa League, but Liverpool’s position is unlikely to alter between now and the end of the campaign.

Chelsea and Arsenal have earned enough points to retain their Pot One status next season.

City are currently sitting in the final berth in Pot Two and could yet drop back into Pot Three if United pull off an unexpected Champions League triumph and secure their place in next season’s competition by winning it in Lisbon on May 24.

City’s rise to Pot Two has also been helped by the domestic struggles of Valencia, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Lyon.

All four clubs are ranked higher than City, but none are likely to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

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