Liverpool ‘cool’ with Europa League draw

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says facing Manchester United in the last 16 of the Europa League was the “cool” tie he wanted.

Long-term adversaries United and Liverpool will go head to head for the first time in continental competition with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, the tournament winners qualifying for the Champions League.

Both are currently outside the Premier League’s top four so Europa League success could be their best chance of returning to Europe’s premier club competition next season.

Liverpool, preparing for the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City tomorrow, edged past Augsburg in the round of 32, James Milner’s early penalty at Anfield the only goal across both legs.

The Reds have lost home and away to United in the league this season but Klopp insisted it was the draw he had been hoping for.

He said: “Obviously it is not easy. But you can ask my staff, when they asked me yesterday ‘who do you want?’ I said ‘Manchester United’. It’s great. We deserve these games. In this round, there were no easy games so we had no chance for an easy game. So we have Manchester United - cool.”

United eased through their tie against FC Midtjylland, having lost the initial leg in Denmark 2-1 last week.

They fell behind at Old Trafford before scoring five, including a brace for debutant Marcus Rashford, to advance 6-3 on aggregate.

The Red Devils have lost just one of their nine meetings with English sides in European competition but have yet to come up against Liverpool.

The first leg will be at Anfield on March 10 with an 8.05pm kick-off, the second leg at Old Trafford getting under way at 6pm on March 17.

Tottenham, the third Premier League side in the round of 16, face a tough test when they take on Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund.

Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs impressed with a 3-0 win over Fiorentina at White Hart Lane on Thursday to secure a 4-1 aggregate success, having lost to the same opposition at the round of 32 stage a year ago.

They will travel to Germany for the first leg in the week following their Premier League north London derby at home to Arsenal.

Europa League round of 16 draw (matches to be played March 10 and 17):

Shakhtar Donetsk v Anderlecht, Basle v Sevilla, Villarreal v Bayer Leverkusen, Athletic Bilbao v Valencia, Liverpool v Manchester United, Sparta Prague v Lazio, Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham, Fenerbahce v Braga.


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