Liverpool’s best and worst-case scenarios in the Europa League final 16 draw

According to sportsmole, Liverpool will find out who their next Europa League opponents would be when the last 16 draw takes place in Nyon on Friday morning. Jurgen Klopp’s side finished as Group E victors at the end of 2023, despite two rough journeys to Toulouse and Union SG that resulted in defeats.

That allowed them to sit back and watch while 16 teams competed in the playoffs for the remaining eight spots in the next round during the previous two weeks. The eight ties that determined who advanced paired the Champions League’s relegated clubs against the Europa League’s group stage runners-up.

With several European heavyweights in UEFA’s second-tier tournament and a few relative minnows vying for a rare opportunity at glory on the continent, Sports Mole examines Liverpool’s best and worst-case scenarios as the draw approaches.

Some teams in the unseeded half of the draw, notably Marseille, are now experiencing disappointing runs of form and behind-the-scenes difficulties, whilst Sparta Prague and Freiburg are unfamiliar with recent European history.

There is one club remaining in the Europa League that has never been this far before, becoming their country’s first representation in a UEFA last 16 draw. That club is Qarabag of Azerbaijan, which defeated Braga under unusual circumstances on Thursday evening.

The Azeri team may have believed the job was virtually done after going 4-1 up away in Portugal in the first leg, but a late penalty at the Quarry reduced their lead to two goals as they returned home. A second-half red card for Elvin Cafarquliyev broke the tie wide open, and Braga scored twice late on to force extra time, making them heavy favourites in the extra 30 minutes given their man advantage.

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However, Qurban Qurbanov’s team demonstrated incredible courage in retaking the lead thanks to Matheus Silva’s strike shortly after the 100-minute mark, and even a Simon Banza penalty to level the tie did not dampen their spirits, as teenager Nariman Akhundzade won the tie for Qarabag in the 122nd minute.

Scoring two goals in extra time with ten men to win 6-5 on aggregate was clearly the story of the night in the Europa and Europa Conference Leagues, and a new name will enter the competition’s last sixteen.

Worst case scenario: AC Milan

While Liverpool would like their chances against practically any European side, considering Klopp’s record on the continent, any club will be apprehensive of playing a renowned team like AC Milan. The seven-time Champions League winners were eliminated from the competition in the group stage, placing third in the group of death behind Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain.

Milan carried their hopes of qualifying out of that group into the last matchday, but despite defeating another English team, Newcastle United, they were only able to finish third and earn a berth in the Europa League.

Stefano Pioli’s side was dealt a difficult draw, however, since their opponents Rennes had been on a run of form that few teams in Europe’s top five leagues could match. However, a superb first-leg performance saw the Rossoneri thrash their French opponents 3-0 at San Siro, therefore a 3-2 setback in the second leg was insignificant in the context of the tie.

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