Liverpool sent Champions League message by potential rival awaiting UEFA permission

Girona head coach Miguel wants to face Liverpool in next season's Champions League.
Girona head coach Miguel wants to face Liverpool in next season's Champions League. -Credit:Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Girona manager Michel has revealed that he wants to face Liverpool in the Champions League next season. The La Liga side has qualified for UEFA's biggest competition for the first time after a brilliant campaign.

Currently a point ahead of Barcelona in the Spanish league standings, Girona has had an incredible season a year after finishing 10th in 2022/23. Real Madrid won the La Liga title relatively easily in the end, wrestling that back from Barcelona's grip, but Girona has been its closest challenger so far.

Having never qualified for the Champions League before, Girona, which is part of the City Football Group (CFG) the multi-club model that Manchester City is at the top of — will be seeded low. And Michel wants to avoid facing Pep Guardiola's men.

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"I would like to go to Liverpool because in Vallecas we have always sung 'Rayo-Liverpool'," Michel told the Spanish outlet Cadena SER. "But any team you are talking about at the European level, from Bayern to Juve, are teams that I have seen on TV every Wednesday and makes me excited. I would not like Manchester City to be our rival because we have some connection and apart from that, I do not want to suffer."

ESPN reported earlier this week that Girona is actually awaiting confirmation from UEFA that it will be allowed to play in the Champions League because of being in the same ownership group as Manchester City. But RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg were permitted to play alongside one another in June 2017 and two years later, were drawn to play in the same group.

The Champions League will look a little different when Liverpool returns after a year outside of Europe's elite. The expanded format involves more teams and the old group system is gone every team will be in one big table until the knockout phase. There will be eight group fixtures for each team and Liverpool will play different sides rather than the same ones home and away.

Because of the extra matches, the group stage will last longer and only finish in January, rather than December. The so-called Swiss Model is being introduced to freshen up the tournament and ensure that there are more high-profile games that matter earlier in the competition. As it is, in most groups, it is not that hard to work out who will get into the last-16.