After the UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw in Nyon today, Liverpool FC admitted they were glad to avoid an all-English encounter while Bayer 04 Leverkusen promised they would be fearless in facing the four-times champions of Europe.
"A real challenge"
"We are pleased to be among the last eight," said Rick Parry, the chief executive of Liverpool after Friday's draw in Nyon. "We had a very tough second group match phase and it is a real challenge for us to be here."
Although Liverpool lifted the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1984, this is their first appearance in the Champions League since its inception in 1992. Parry admitted that it was an honour to be in such exalted company. "Obviously there are eight good sides and we respect them all but we don't fear them," he said.
"We take them as they come"
Should they overcome Leverkusen, Liverpool could face FA Premiership rivals Manchester United FC in the semi-finals. "Emotionally we are pleased that we don't have to play Manchester United [now]," Parry said. "But of course if you want to win the competition you have to beat all of them anyway and we take them as they come."
"We have nothing to lose"
For their part Leverkusen, the current 1. Bundesliga leaders and 1988 UEFA Cup winners, promised not to be daunted by a showdown with one of European football's most famous clubs. "We have nothing to lose, so we will just give our best effort," said Leverkusen president Rainer Calmund. "Liverpool are a big club and we are proud to be playing against them. But we don't need to be afraid and we will go into the match without any nerves."
"The football gods have been with us"
Leverkusen's progress to the last eight has been one of the surprise stories of the season. In the second group stage their success in topping Group D accounted for the big guns of Juventus FC and Arsenal FC and Calmund hopes that run of form can persist. "Until now the football gods have been with us and I hope this will continue," he said.
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