In just over an hour from now the draw for the Champions League group stages will be made, and according to Reds Chief Executive Rick Parry, it’s quite a good job that Liverpool made it through their qualifying tie thank to the 3-2 aggregate win completed on Tuesday night.
Parry says that the club took a risk on them qualifying for the group phase, if they hadn’t then they’d have spent money they didn’t really have. He also says Liverpool deserve to be in the draw, but not just for their performance in the qualifiers: “”It was clearly very important we got through. It’s vital to be in the group stages. There’s much relief all round. It’s not just about these two games, we earned it through the league last season. We seem to make a habit of doing it the hard way in the final qualifier. The last couple of seasons have been slightly nervy, but now we can look forward to the draw.”
The summer deals for the likes of Pennant, Bellamy and Kuyt were all made under the assumption that the club would have the money to spend on the instalments for the players: “We have to budget for getting through to the group stages, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to afford to do what we do. If you budget for failure, you achieve it, so we budget for success. That makes the knockout just that little bit nerve-wracking. You have to aim for the stars, not mediocrity. The chairman is much relieved and a happy man today, and now there’s a buzz of anticipation for the draw.”
The draw takes place in Monaco at 5pm BST, with Liverpool one of the top seeds. That means they’ll not have to face Spanish sides Barcelona, Real Madrid or Valencia, nor will they have to face the sides from the disgraced Italian league, AC Milan and Inter Milan. The other two top seeds are English sides Arsenal and Manchester United – but with country protection now offered to Liverpool once again, they’d have been avoided by the Reds wherever they’d been seeded. That protection also means they will avoid Chelsea, who are in the second level of seedings. Gerard Houllier’s current club Lyon team are a team from that second pot who could be drawn against Liverpool, as are Celtic, Bayern Munich, Roma, Porto, PSV Eindhoven and Lille.