With the European draws being announced for both the Champions League and Europa League, excitement has already begun ahead of February next year for the European Knockout Rounds.
All four English teams made it to the knockout rounds of the Champions League, as well as Manchester United and Wolves making it into the equivalent in the second-tier competition. A six-team delegate from England is the most they have had for a number of years and shows the healthy state the Premier League is currently in.
Here is a breakdown to see how they will get on in the European Knockout Rounds:
The reigning holders of the European trophy will continue to be a threat for any team on the continent. But Jurgen Klopp’s attention will be firmly placed upon winning the club’s first-ever Premier League title.
Fixture congestion is going to take place across Christmas and the New Year, in which injuries could occur and rotation will be needed at some point. Out of all of the games coming their way, the Premier League will not be substituted, knowing how difficult it is to pick up three points and keep momentum in this day and age.
Atletico Madrid are their opponents in the first European knockout rounds, and will give Liverpool’s surging attackers a headache. Diego Simeone has been known to pull off masterclasses and will need to show every last drop of defensive solidity in order to overpower Klopp’s side.
Flailing in third place and 14 points behind league leaders Liverpool, it is fair to say that Pep Guardiola will being vying for the Champions League title. Barring a monumental slip-up, Liverpool look set to be crowned English champions come May and so the Spanish coach has diverted his attention to Europe.
One of Guardiola’s primary aims when joining City was to win the coveted European trophy – an achievement they have never had – but so far he has not been able to do so. In fact, Guardiola struggled at Bayern to reach the same success as he had at Barcelona, and so far it is proving equally as difficult in Manchester.
Against Real Madrid, City will go into the tie as favourites. Without Cristiano Ronaldo’s heroics, Los Blancos are not the force they once were, but always have the past experiences of dominating Europe in recent memory. It will be a tough affair, but Man City should be a team that makes it all the way to the final.
Frank Lampard’s tenure started so brightly in the opening few months of the season, but with the games coming thick and fast, it was never expected to carry on at such an emphatic pace.
Along with fighting for a top four position with the other contenders in Europe this season, Lampard faces a mammoth task in overcoming Bayern Munich. With the in-form Robert Lewandowski scoring goal after goal, the Blues’ defence is going to have to tighten up and become a wall.
Bayern are the overwhelming favourites in this match-up, but they also were when the two teams met in the 2012 final at the Allianz Arena. Chelsea won there that night and will be hoping for history to repeat itself.
Under José Mourinho, Tottenham will become more of a secure team in defence once the Portuguese manager stamps his mark on the side. While reaching the Champions League final last season was a wonderful moment for the club, there were moments of great fortune for the North London side.
Spurs, along with Manchester United, Chelsea and Wolves, are aiming for a top four finish and know the difficulties of balancing the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League.
The recent extension to Toby Alderweireld’s contract is a huge bonus for the club and he should carry on his rich vein of form.
After a tumultuous start to the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has accrued some important results in the last weeks.
However, after finishing top of their Europa League group, Manchester United should be feeling confident ahead of their tie against Club Brugge. While they might have dropped out of the Champions League, the Red Devils should, on paper, have too much for the Belgian side and overpower them.
With the potential of new recruits arriving in January, as well as Paul Pogba returning from injury, Man United should be in a position to attack the second half of the season with some might.
They have won this trophy once before in recent years and it might just be their best chance of entering the Champions League next season.
Wolves have had arguably the most interesting start to the season out of all the teams. After languishing in the relegation zone for a month, they now find themselves into the knockout rounds in Europe and five points from fourth, looking stronger with each passing game.
It is no surprise that Wolves have excelled in Europe, with a large contingent of their squad having coming from the continent itself – as well as the manager. They find themselves against LASK, currently second in the Austrian Bundesliga, and should reach the next round comfortably.
Such as it is with Wolves, it is never certain what one can expect from the club – apart from excitement. In their maiden year under Nuno Espirito Santo in Europe, Wolves might just be surprise a few.
A change in management should finally kick-start their season, especially with it being announced that former player Mikel Arteta is going in as Head Coach.
While the Spaniard’s experience of being the man in charge is incredibly limited at the highest stage, his three-year apprenticeship under Pep Guardiola should stand him in good stead as he finds his feet at the Emirates.
An away trip to Olympiacos in Greece awaits them in the knockout rounds, which should be a relatively easy task of getting through. Arteta knows the size of task at hand with the Gunners, but is also not going to be a coach that sits down to the opportunity and lets the players run the ruling.
This squad reached a Europa League final last season and can use that experience to be able to build up some form coming into the latter rounds. Arsenal could certainly put on an unexpected show in Europe.