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Fabinho: Liverpool will relish being the team to beat ahead of Champions League group stage draw

11:27 EAT 29/08/2019
Fabinho Liverpool 2019
The Brazil midfielder knows the Reds will have a target on their back as reigning champions but is looking forward to the 'intensity' of Europe

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho is looking forward to being the team everyone wants to beat in Europe this season as clubs await Thursday’s draw for the Champions League group stage.

The reigning champions will enter the draw in Pot 1 alongside the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus, while Liverpool’s opponents in the last two finals, Real Madrid and Tottenham, are in Pot 2.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have started the season in excellent form, the only Premier League side to register three wins from three games, and Fabinho thinks the added pressure of juggling domestic commitments with Europe will provide a welcome challenge.

"The Champions League is a special competition and we're the reigning champions,” he told Liverpool’s website. “There's always going to be a lot of expectation about who we're going to come up against. We're relaxed about it.

"We're fully aware that when we return from this international break there will be a more intense fixture schedule with midweek games, but that's good – we like it.

"As we're the reigning champions, all the other teams are going to focus much more on us, they'll know more about our team.

"We're excited about this season's competition. We know how strong the team is and, as always, we have to work hard and with confidence."

Fabinho proved himself a key player over the course of last season, and was one of the stars of Liverpool’s remarkable semi-final comeback against Barcelona.

Initially struggling to break into the first team, he was missing from the defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and Red Star Belgrade which almost saw the Reds dumped out in the group stage, but went on to start in every match from the last 16 onwards.

While the performances of midfield trio Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum were impressive last season, Liverpool will be hoping the strain of fighting on multiple fronts will be eased by the return to fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and a Naby Keita ready to make an impression in his second season at the club.

Despite last season’s all-English final, manager Jurgen Klopp doesn’t believe Premier League sides will dominate the Champions League this year.

European giants such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus have all strengthened their squads significantly over the summer, with the European transfer window still open for further business.