By Gary Fulcher.
Liverpool return to European action on Thursday evening with a mouthwatering visit to Germany to face Jürgen Klopp’s former side Borussia Dortmund – 8.05pm kick off UK time – at the Westfalenstadion, now officially known as Signal Iduna Park. However this name cannot be used in European competition due to UEFA’s strict policy of not naming sponsors who are not an official partner of their competition.
Liverpool are making their first appearance at the quarter-final stage of any European competition for the first time since 2009/10 when we reached the Europa League semi-finals under Rafa Benitez. In order for the Reds to progress to the semi-finals they will have to overcome many people’s tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund, under head coach Thomas Tuchel who replaced Klopp at the end of last season.
There have been three previous meetings between the two sides, with the first taking place in the 1966 European Cup Winners’ Cup final at Hampden Park, Glasgow, which Dortmund won 2-1 after extra time. The sides were paired together during the 2001/02 Champions League at the first group stage. The score finished 0-0 in Germany with Liverpool winning the return fixture 2-0 to qualify from the group as group winners, while Dortmund’s third place finish earned them a drop down to the UEFA Cup.
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Dortmund currently sit in 2nd place in the Bundesliga, five points behind Bayern Munich. They are unbeaten at home in the league and have won nine and drawn two of their last 11 in the league. Dortmund started the competition at third qualifying round where they eliminated Austrian side Wolfsberger 6-0 over the two legs. Their reward was a qualifying play-off against Norwegian outfit Odds BK over two legs, which Dortmund won 4-3 away and 7-2 at home.
Dortmund were drawn in Group C along with FC Krasnodar, PAOK and Qabala. Tuchel’s side recorded three wins and one draw in their opening four games, sealing their progress to the knockout stages, which may explain why they lost their two remaining group games against Krasnodar away (0-1) and PAOK at home (0-1). Dortmund then faced FC Porto in the last 32, progressing with a 2-0 win at home in the first leg and a 1-0 win at Porto. Spurs were next for Dortmund in the last 16, but the current second best team in England were no match for the second best team in Germany with Dortmund sealing a 3-0 win at home and a 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane.
Liverpool are one of only three sides still unbeaten in the Europa League this season along with Sparta Praha and Shakhtar Donetsk, although the latter parachuted into the tournament at the round of 32 stage via the Champions League, so have only played four games.
The Reds topped Group B with two wins and four draws. They were drawn against Augsburg in the last 32, when a 0-0 draw in Germany followed by a 1-0 win at Anfield was good enough to progress to the last 16 where Manchester Utd lay in wait. A 2-0 win at Anfield and a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford saw the Reds seal their place in the quarter-finals.
It promises to be an emotional and special occasion for Klopp who returns to Dortmund for the first time since his departure.
Liverpool’s away record against German opposition:
- Played: 17 Won: 2 Drawn: 9 Lost: 6 F: 13 A: 19 GD: -6
Liverpool’s UEFA Cup/Europa League/Fairs Cup combined record:
- P: 141 W: 76 D: 37 L: 28 F: 223 A: 101 GD: +122
Liverpool’s previous tournament victories:
- 1973 – Liverpool 3 – 2 Borussia Mönchengladbach (over two legs)
- 1976 – Liverpool 4 – 3 Club Brugge (over two legs)
- 2001 – Liverpool 5 – 4 Alavés (golden goal in extra time)
EUROPA LEAGUE SQUADS
Denotes not named in current squad
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