A Belter of a Draw

There is a fatalism in most sports fans when draws in cup competitions come about. You always expect the worst, float conspiracy theories about rigged draws and “warm balls” and anticipate your fierce rivals will get the easiest of draws.

This logic led me to anticipate Liverpool drawing one of the Manchester teams in the European Cup (sorry always has always been will be) Quarter Finals, an eventuality it couldn’t honestly have gone much better.

My expectations of Liverpool in this year’s European Cup have risen dramatically as a result of this draw, paradoxically perhaps so have my hopes in the League.

Porto who were defeated 5-0 on Valentine’s Day last year away in the last 16 will be coming to Anfield in the first week of April. So even though a home second leg is the preference, Porto, with those psychological wounds now re-opened was the one opponent you wouldn’t mind playing the home leg first.

Even if, heaven forbid Liverpool don’t get the job done at Anfield Porto will fear what happened to them at home last season. While it is wrong to ever take a last 8 opponent in this competition for granted and I would never do so I honestly believe this was the best outcome for the Reds from this morning’s pot-dipping.

It wasn’t just Liverpool’s draw that has warmed my heart however. With three other English teams in the draw, the likelihood was one of the ties would be an all English affair. Manchester City’s pairing with Spurs is for me the best outcome possible. As City chase the league title this pairing presents, in my opinion, the most significant mental challenge.

Last season’s quarter-final draw for City was also an all English affair and we all know how City fared in that. They will be expected to progress and will fear the repercussions of not doing so. Spurs have shown in Europe that they are a force to be reckoned with, this competition is their only chance of silverware and they will be hosting City in their brand spanking new stadium.

What better way to make your new home feel like home than a famous European win in its first month?

Earlier this season Tottenham underperformed at Wembley in the league allowing City a relatively comfortable victory. This tie and the league game that follows less than 72 hours later could be pivotal for both teams and in both competitions. 

As The Anfield Wrap’s Neil Atkinson is so fond of saying, Man City have so far this season drawn “The Dog and Duck” in every round of their cup competitions. This may be the rude awakening to the reality of cup competitions that knocks them off course in both competitions.

As for the rest of the draw, keeping Juventus in the other half is to my mind a very good thing. Not only from a Liverpool perspective. If despite everything previously written here City do go through the thought of home and away against the giants of Turin will not be an appealing one.

And if, as I fervently hope, Liverpool can get the job done in early April and progress to the semi-finals the dream reunion with Suarez and Coutinho seems a very real one. Leaving aside the damage those two, Messi and co could do to United, whichever of these two progress present a mouth-watering prospect.