Liverpool could face a more difficult Champions League group in Thursday’s draw after Benfica secured their place in Pot 2 on Wednesday night.
Benfica got past PAOK 5-2 on aggregate in the playoff round to secure safe passage into the group stage, and that rubber-stamps Liverpool’s berth in Pot 3. Had Benfica failed to qualify, Liverpool would have moved up to Pot 2.
Pot 1 contains Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid as Champions League and Europa League holders, along with last season’s champions of the top six European leagues.
Liverpool will be drawn with one of those clubs (except Premier League champions Manchester City) as well as any of the non-English teams in Pot 2, which contains the top-ranked non-seeds by UEFA coefficient — one of Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica or Napoli.
Roma were the sole beneficiaries of the qualification process, moving up to Pot 2 after FC Basel failed to advance in the second qualifying round.
Valencia moved up from Pot 4 to Pot 3 after FC Salzburg went out on away goals to Red Star Belgrade, but Inter Milan will have to make do with Pot 4.
Among the worst-case scenarios for Liverpool would be a group also containing Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter.
The group-stage draw will start Thursday at at 5 p.m. BST, midday ET.
Group-stage draw pots
Pot 1: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Lokomotiv Moscow
Pot 2: Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Napoli, Tottenham Hotspur, Roma
Pot 3: Liverpool, Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Ajax, CSKA Moscow, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia
Pot 4: Viktoria Plzen, Club Brugge, Galatasaray, Young Boys, Inter Milan, Hoffenheim, Red Star Belgrade, AEK Athens
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