Champions League: Liverpool escape potential Round-16 nightmare draw


Liverpool have managed to escape PSG in a potential Round 16 opponents that includes Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and FC Porto

Mohamed Salah scores against Napoli
Mohamed Salah scores in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Napoli in the Champions League

Liverpool will not be facing Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16 after the French giants failed to lead their group in dramatic circumstances.

Christophe Galtier's side beat Juventus 2-1 in the final week of the competition, but Benfica's impressive 6-1 victory at Maccabi Haifa - sealed by Joao Mario's goal in the 92nd minute - left the Portuguese on a razor-thin margin. Both had 14 points as their respective encounters ended 1-1 at the Estadio da Luz and Parc des Princes.

Goal difference and goals are absolutely equal, with Benfica firmly in first place in Group H with a better away goals record.

Liverpool also finished second in the group stage despite having the most points of any English team - Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham are all at the top of their respective tables.

The Reds are levelled with Napoli on 15 points, as Tuesday's 2-0 win over the Italians wasn't enough to make up the three-goal gap in the opening week.

Tables runner-ups usually results in a frustrating knockout draw, pitting Jurgen Klopp's side against one of four group winners who are neither Napoli nor their Premier League rivals - UEFA rules do not allow teams from the same country to be drawn in the first round - of the Knockouts. Paris Saint-Germain were supposed to be winners along with Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Porto, but were replaced by Benfica.

The development gives the Reds a 50/50 chance of taking on the European giants in Bayern or Madrid, with Porto or Benfica likely to be preferred - as does Jamie Carragher, who admits he likes Porto. With Liverpool and Bayern only allowed to play against four potential teams, a clash between the two and Sadio Mane's return to Anfield is the statistically most likely outcome.

But avoiding a star studded Paris Saint-Germain - armed with Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar - will undoubtedly bring relief to a team that has been known for its rhythm holes this season. 

Liverpool can expect some good signs after finishing second as their two Champions League victories in 2004/2005 and 2018/2019 came after failing to finish top of their group. All 16 qualifying teams will get to know their February opponents on Monday, November 7.

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