Nobody expected Liverpool to reach the Champions League final last season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were handed a favourable group draw, topping a group consisting of Sevilla, Maribor and Spartak Moscow.
Then, Porto, Manchester City and Roma were comfortably brushed aside in the knockout stages to set up a clash with Real Madrid in Kiev.
Liverpool couldn’t quite stop Los Blancos from winning their third consecutive European Cup but they can take immense pride and confidence from their Champions League run.
And they will be looking to go one better this time around.
However, if they are to win their sixth Champions League trophy, they might have to do it the hard way.
That’s because it looks likely they will remain in Pot Three for the group stage draw.
Basel being eliminated in the second qualifying stage against PAOK kept Liverpool’s hope of being promoted to Pot Two alive, but they still need Benfica to fail to qualify for the group stages for that to be the case.
The Portuguese side will face Fenerbahce in a two-legged tie that Liverpool will be keeping a close eye on.
Benfica are favourites to progress and, if they do, Liverpool will find themselves in Pot Three once again.
While they got fortunate with their group 12 months ago, they could face a nightmare draw this season.
The Liverpool Echo have provided us with the provisional pots for the Champions League draw – predicting the outcome of the remaining qualifying matches.
They look like this:
Pot 1: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Lokomotiv Moscow
Pot 2: Borussia Dortmund, FC Porto, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Napoli, Tottenham Hotspur, Roma
Pot 3: Liverpool, Dinamo Kiev, Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Salzburg, CSKA Moscow, PSV Eindhoven
Pot 4: Valencia, Viktoria Plzen, Celtic, Club Brugge, Galatasaray, FK Astana, Inter Milan, Hoffenheim
That means Liverpool could face a very tricky test of Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan.
On the other hand, despite being third seeds, they could still get lucky and play Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto and Viktoria Plzen.
At least they won’t have to qualify for the group stages this season like they had to during the 2017/18 campaign.
Liverpool had to overcome Hoffenheim to even reach the Champions League proper but can be safe in the knowledge they already have their place secured now.