Who could Liverpool face in the Europa League last 16?

The Europa League group stage is done.

Liverpool secured qualification for the knockout rounds of the Europa League with a match to spare, after beating LASK 4-0 at home, rendering the 2-1 defeat away at Union Saint-Gilloise on the final day utterly meaningless.

The Reds won four out of six to top Group E and, with qualification to the last 16 secured, fans can continue to plot their route to Dublin next May.

With eyes already on the next phase of the tournament, what comes next for Liverpool and who could they face?

How do the Europa League knockouts work?

Obviously the top two in each of the Europa League's eight groups qualifies for the knockout stages. Standard.

However, unlike in the Champions League, there is an extra stage for the group runners-up to face.

After the Europa League group phase is completed, the eight second-placed teams play a preliminary knockout round in which they are paired against one of the third-placed dropouts from the Champions League. The winners then take a spot in the last 16.

Group winners, of course, are exempt from this round and are secure in their passage to the last 16.

Other than that, the competition follows the traditional format, with all ties taking place over two legs (home and away) until the single event final.


© Proshots - Europa League

With Liverpool confirmed as Group E winners, they won't have to play another Thursday night fixture until March when the round of 16 starts. Woohoo!

However, group runners-up face their playoff in February.

  • Preliminary knockout round – 15-22 February 2024
  • Last 16 – 7-14 March 2024
  • Quarter-finals – 11-18 April 2024
  • Semi-finals – 2-9 May 2024
  • Final – 22 May 2024

The draw dates for he preliminary round will take place on 18 December, while the last 16 draw is scheduled for 23 February.

The remaining rounds will be drawn together on 15 March.

Who could Liverpool face in the knockout rounds?

It's hard to say who Liverpool are likely to come up against in the next phase of the competition as so much is still up in the air, with the last 16 draw not scheduled until next year.

The following teams have qualified for the Europa League last 16 phase, alongside the Reds:

  • West Ham
  • Brighton
  • Rangers
  • Atalanta
  • Villarreal
  • Slavia Prague
  • Bayer Leverkusen

Meanwhile, the following 16 teams have qualified for the preliminary knockout:

  • Freiburg
  • Marseille
  • Spart Prague
  • Sporting CP
  • Toulouse
  • Rennes
  • Roma
  • Qarabag
  • Galatasaray*
  • Lens*
  • Braga*
  • Benfica*
  • Feyenoord*
  • AC Milan*
  • Young Boys*
  • Shakhtar Donetsk**denotes Champions League third-placed group finish

Having now confirmed that they will bypass the preliminary knockout round, the best case Liverpool can hope for in the last 16 is a favourable tie with relatively little travel time.

German side Freiburg jumps out as one such possibility – though, of course, they would still need to win their preliminary round before entering the draw to face the Reds next February.

Young Boys and Feyenoord, who will both transfer from the Champions League, could also be match-ups that wouldn't worry Jurgen Klopp overly.

In terms of teams to maybe hope to avoid, Lens (who beat Arsenal already this season), as well as Galatasaray and AC Milan are all in the mix, as are Jose Mourinho's Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk.

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