Klopp says it’s cool to get drawn against United in Europa League

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FOOTBALL -

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, with the tour­na­ment win­ners qual­i­fy­ing for next sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League.

Both are cur­rently out­side the Bar­clays 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, who are pre­par­ing for the Cap­i­tal One Cup fi­nal against Manch­ester City to­mor­row, edged past Ger­man side Augs­burg in the round of 32, with James Mil­ner’s early penalty at An­field on Thurs­day 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. I think we have to clear some­thing.

“We had a good game when I was here when we played against them, but we lost 1-0. It was not what we de­served on that day, but we got it.

“Life gives us the chance to make it bet­ter and that’s what we have to do, and what we’ll try. In this round, there were no easy games so we had no chance for an easy game. So we have Manch­ester United – cool.”

The first leg will take place at An­field on March 10 with an 8.05pm kick-off, with 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. Else­where in the draw, Gary Neville’s Va­len­cia face an all-Span­ish tie against Ath­letic Bil­bao.

Mean­while, hold­ers Sevilla travel to Basle – the venue of this year’s fi­nal – look­ing for a place in the last eight.

Two pre­vi­ous win­ners clash as Shakhtar Donetsk come up against An­der­lecht while Vil­lar­real will meet Bayer Lev­erkusen and Sparta Prague face Lazio.

PLEASED: Jur­gen Klopp got the Europa League tie he wanted

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