Remember Ryan Babel? The Dutch striker who was at Liverpool for four uneventful years from 2007-11 and is currently at Besiktas is hoping for a reunion with his former club.
As we get ready for the knockout stages of the Champions League, there is a potential chance of Besiktas drawing Liverpool in the last-16 clash. The Turkish side is one of the eight teams left in the Champions League, and are yet to lose a match.
That unbeaten list also includes Liverpool, who currently top Group ‘E’ with 8 points. For Besiktas, the tally is 10 points and a top spot in Group ‘G’ following their 1-1 draw against AS Monaco.
Although they are not yet guaranteed of a knockout spot, there is a very high probability of Besiktas reaching the next round. Let us just say this – it would be a surprise if they don’t make it to the knockouts.
The Dutch striker wants to meet his old team in the last-16 as he feels it would be extra special to play at his old stomping ground.
“I want Liverpool in the next round,” Babel said speaking to CNN (h/t Turkish-football.com). I am not really bothered who we draw but Liverpool would be really special. It would be a really special game for me, but we are ready to take on anyone.”
Turkish opponents are always tricky to face. The intimidating atmosphere players encounter in Turkey plays a major role in the games’ outcome. That is one of the reasons English sides have a less than favourable record against Turkish opponents.
Liverpool have faced Besiktas 4 times in European competitions before and have recorded two wins – once in the Champions League and once in the Europa League. The Black Eagles will have fond memories of knocking the Reds out of the Europa League round of 32 in 2015. Babel wants a similar experience of playing Liverpool and knocking them out.
The Reds are currently on top of their group but with 8 points, we are not yet guaranteed of progress. Sevilla are on 7 points and Spartak Moscow have 5, which means the race to the next round is still wide open.
That means there is a strong possibility that the Reds could finish 2nd in the group and qualify for the next round. On the other hand, Besiktas could finish top of their group even if they lose their next two games – theoretically.
Will Babel get his wish?