Jurgen Klopp said one of the things he wanted Liverpool to avoid in the Champions League draw on Friday was to play against another Premier League club.
The Reds manager will be relieved to see them drawn against Portuguese side Benfica in the quarter-finals of Europe’s biggest tournament.
The English representatives, Chelsea and Manchester City have been drawn with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid respectively, while Villarreal will play Bayern Munich.
If Liverpool beat Benfica, they will face the winner in the latest semi-final match.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Klopp said it would be “a mistake” to underestimate Benfica, but said he hoped to avoid the opposition he used to say.
“The thing I didn’t want to have – I would have taken every one – but what I didn’t want was an English party,” he said. “We have that in the past and we passed [in 2018 v Man City], we played the final against the English team [2019 v Tottenham], well, in the final anyway, you take whoever you find.
“But in fact, I was really happy that it’s not an English club, not only because of the high standard but also because of the competition, we always play well enough during the season and it’s good if you play someone else in European competitions.”
Klopp added that he was “looking forward” to the deal, with Benfica the only rival he could still face as Liverpool boss. The Lisbon team knocked out Ajax in the 16th round after Darwin Nunez’s goal in Amsterdam won 3-2 on aggregate.
“We look forward to it,” Klopp added. “The quarter-final is very difficult. Benfica have done very well against Ajax and that is the case. I know people will say we are favorites and things like that, but that is already the first mistake you can make. We are too.
“I’m looking forward to it. I have a lot of respect for what they do there, it’s a great team. I don’t think I ever played there, to be 100 percent honest. Lisbon, a big city.
“Plus – I spent my last week on vacation [before taking up a Liverpool job], I got a call from [club director] Mike Gordon in Lisbon. So good memory too. I was sitting outside. Coffee bar, got a call and we made a decision. Lisbon. “