Not since 2008 has Liverpool progressed to the Champions League knockout stage, and by virtue of Wednesday’s 7-0 drubbing of Spartak Moscow, Jurgen Klopp’s charges joined an esteemed class of sides to make the last 16.
When Rafa Benitez led the Reds to a group stage conquest over Atletico Madrid, Marseille, and PSV in 2008-09, it bookended a five-year spell of continental success for the club that included the stunning come-from-behind victory over AC Milan in the final and a corresponding defeat to I Rossoneri two years later.
Looking back at those squads, Liverpool was a balanced and organised side that profitted from equal parts resolute defending and strong midfield play. What those iterations of the club boasted in defence, Klopp’s current lot offers in offence, with a lethal combination of pace and trickery highlighting a team that counter-attacks at breakneck speed.
Now that Klopp and Co. have ended a a nine-year wait for Champions League progression, here’s a composite starting XI from this year’s entry and the sides that enjoyed European success in 2008-09.
Bench: Simon Mignolet; Martin Skrtel, Sami Hyypia; Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana; Roberto Firmino, Dirk Kuyt
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