Liverpool have been drawn to face Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage.
The Reds went all the way to the final last season, losing to Real Madrid in Kyiv, and will be hoping to go deep into the competition once more.
With the draw in Monaco handing Jurgen Klopp‘s side trips to France, Italy and Serbia, it promises to be another entertaining and exciting few months around the continent for the travelling red contingent.
Here’s everything you need to know about Liverpool’s upcoming opponents, who will be the first obstacles to overcome as the Reds look to make themselves feared around the continent once more.
Manager: Thomas Tuchel. Like the Reds’ own boss Klopp, Tuchel is a former Mainz and Borussia Dortmund manager, though left the latter under something of a cloud.
He joined PSG this summer and is tasked with finally taking the big-spending French side deep into the Champions League.
Captain: Thiago Silva. An experienced centre-back, elite for a period but hampered by injuries over the past few years.
Key Player: Take your pick. Kylian Mbappe is already a massive star and a World Cup winner, while Neymar is seen by many as the heir apparent to the Messi-Ronaldo stranglehold of world’s best player.
There’s Gigi Buffon in goal this year, plenty of talent in the midfield area and goals aplenty from powerhouse striker Edinson Cavani.
In short, they are one of the favourites every year for a reason!
Last season: Won Ligue 1 at a trot, unchallenged and 13 points clear.
On the European stage, they reached the last 16 of the Champions League but lost 5-2 on aggregate to eventual winners Real Madrid.
Last time vs. LFC: Not since 1997, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup, have the two teams met.
It was the semi-final stage then and PSG triumphed, 3-0 at home and 3-2 on aggregate as the Reds couldn’t quite mount the dramatic comeback they required.
Robbie Fowler and Mark Wright scored on that occasion.
Stadium: PSG play at the Parc des Princes, a 48,000-capacity stadium in Paris located near the Roland Garros tennis stadium.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti. The legendary Italian has plenty of previous with Liverpool, of course, and is another who took over at his present club this summer.
As an aside intrigue to the group, Ancelotti also managed PSG for two years from 2011-13.
Captain: Marek Hamsik. Long linked with a move away, Hamsik has remained at Napoli for over a decade and remains a key cog in the side.
Equally capable of driving into the attacking line from deep, playmaking from a true No. 10 role or starting almost as a second forward, Hamsik is a danger from anywhere in the attacking half of the pitch.
Key Player: It’s difficult to just pick one from such a talented squad, but Lorenzo Insigne is the magic man in attack.
He has great dribbling ability, can score from anywhere and has superb movement coming in off the left channel.
Elsewhere, Piotr Zielinski looks as though he’ll be crucial in Ancelotti’s system, Allan is a complete midfielder and Kalidou Kouliably marshalls the defence.
Last season: Runners-up in Serie A, it looked as though Napoli could finally end Juventus’ stranglehold on the title until the final weeks of the season.
In the Champions League, they suffered a group-stage exit behind Man City and Shakhtar Donetsk, dropped into the Europa League and promptly lost on away goals to Naby Keita‘s RB Leipzig.
Last time vs. LFC: Just once have they been paired together: the 2010/11 season and the Europa League.
It was 0-0 in Italy in the first match, while back at Anfield the Reds triumphed 3-1.
Napoli led at the break, but Steven Gerrard replaced Milan Jovanovic at half time—and bagged himself a hat-trick.
On a non-competitive basis, of course, the Reds beat Napoli 5-0 at the Aviva Stadium earlier this summer, but no attention should be paid to that in terms of the group stage.
Stadium: Napoli play at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples.
It’s a 60,000 capacity ground, but renovations and upgrades are scheduled to take place throughout the season which could lower that by around 5,000.
Red Star Belgrade
Manager: Vladan Milojevic. The former defender didn’t have an elite career, mostly playing in and around Greece after leaving Red Star as a player.
His coaching has gone in reverse: Cyprus, Greece and now with Red Star, a title-winner in his first season and now hoping to take on much bigger challenges.
Aged just 48, he’s only been a manager in his own right for seven years after previously working at Academy level.
Captain: Nenad Milijas. A veteran midfielder, Milijas had a brief spell at Wolves earlier in his career and has since been in China and Turkey, before rejoining Red Star last year.
Aged 35, he’s not always in the starting 11 now, meaning defender Vujadin Savic could be the on-field leader.
Key Player: The top man to watch out for would have been Nemanja Radonjic—but he has just joined Marseille.
El Fardou Ben has started the season on fire in front of goal, notching six in eight Champions League qualifying matches, while Dutch midfielder Lorenzo Ebecilio has just joined and impressed more than once in the Champions League last term with APOEL.
Last season: They topped the Super Liga after 30 matches, then in the final seven the league splits in two. They ended that championship round with five straight victories to take the title.
In Europe, Red Star—Crvena Zvezda to give them their local name—reached the Round of 32 in the Europa League, but lost 1-0 on aggregate to CSKA Moscow.
Last time vs. LFC: All the way back to 1973 for the last time, and indeed only time, the teams met.
A two-legged tie in the European Cup second round ended in a 2-1 reversal for the Reds in both legs.
Stadium: The Rajko Mitic Stadium, named after an iconic former player, is a 55,000-capacity ground.
It has undergone renovations over the last year, but more are anticipated for the seasons ahead.