If Liverpool thought dropping down into the Europa League from its big brother would lead to an easy ride they could be disabused of that notion today when they learn their opponents in the first knock-out round.
A poor goal difference in the Champions League group stage has denied Rafael Benitez's side a place among the 16 top seeds for the competition. It means Liverpool, along with Everton and Fulham who are also unseeded, may have to play strong teams including a trio from Germany – holders Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg and Hamburg – as well as Juventus from Italy, Shakhtar Donetsk from Ukraine and Galatasaray from Turkey.
A Uefa spokesman said the four best third-placed sides from the Champions League are seeded. He added: "Among clubs dropping down from the Champions League, Juventus and Unirea Urziceni won more points than Liverpool, while Marseilles and Wolfsburg had better goal differences."
The seeded teams have the advantage of playing the second leg at home. The round of 32 starts on 16 February with the final in Hamburg on 12 May.