Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool captain, is not worried by the prospect of facing another English side in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Liverpool have faced Chelsea three times and Arsenal once in the past three seasons in European competition, and with the London duo, plus Manchester United, also through to the last eight of the Champions League the chances are high of another all English-tie when the draw is made tomorrow morning.
"We are not scared of anybody," Gerrard said. "We will take who we get and believe that we are going to go through. I think it is the other seven teams who are going to have concerns about coming up against us after that Real Madrid result. The way I look at it, we are going to have to play them sooner or later, so it does not matter if it is now, the semi-finals or the final."
Liverpool thrashed Real 4-0 in their last European tie and beat Manchester United 4-1 in the Premier League at the weekend to underline their fine form.
"If you could hand-pick an opponent then maybe we would want someone like Villarreal or Porto, but there are no easy draws at this stage," the 28-year-old said. "Everyone who has got to this stage of the competition has done well. They will all believe in themselves. But we have shown – the players, the manager and the fans – that we are a force to be reckoned with when we pull it all together."
However, Gerrard's team-mate, Albert Riera, said that he would prefer to avoid Barcelona in the quarter-finals. "Barcelona are playing unbelievably well this year, their football is really good and I think people are expecting a lot from them, and perhaps expecting them to win 5-0 in every game," the Spanish winger said. "It is not possible to keep this kind of level for a whole season though, but they are a team who I would prefer not to get in the Champions League draw."
Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, has been boosted by the return of the defender Daniel Agger to full training following a back problem that has sidelined the Denmark international for more than a month.
Liverpool could also have Yossi Benayoun (hamstring) and Xabi Alonso (calf) back for Sunday's visit of Aston Villa to Anfield, but the full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, who suffered a recurrence of a recent hamstring injury during the warm-up at Old Trafford, will not be rushed back into action.Reuse content