Liverpool fans around the world will unite in anticipation this evening to discover who their team will face upon returning to the Champions League next month – and midfielder Joe Allen will be no different.

The Reds ended a five-year absence from European football's elite club competition by claiming a second-place finish in the Barclays Premier League last season and automatic group-stage qualification.

Today the rewards for Brendan Rodgers' side become that bit more tangible, with the draw to split the 32 participating teams into eight different sections to be held in Monaco from 4.45pm BST.

Allen plans to watch on with the same level of excitement and enthusiasm as the supporters who will each have their particular preference on the three opponents they would like to meet when the action gets underway in September.

"I can't wait - it's a dream come true for me to be at a club competing in this competition," the Welshman explained to just hours before the draw.

"I can't wait for the draw to get underway and see who we're up against. I've heard a lot about the Champions League nights at Anfield and away. I can't wait to be a part of it.

"There is a part of me, of course, that wants to come up against the best teams and the best players. You have to have the confidence that you can.

"But, at the same time, an 'easier' group would do quite nicely. Mind you, there's no such thing as an easy group in the Champions League.

"We have to wait and see. No matter who it brings, it's going to be exciting for us and we're all really looking forward to hitting the ground running when the games start."


Before those special nights under the floodlights return, however, Liverpool must concentrate on the demands and rigours of the Premier League, having kicked off the campaign with one win and one loss.

Allen was in the starting line-up for Monday's 3-1 defeat by Manchester City and, while acknowledging that errors led to the concession of goals, the midfielder felt buoyed by long periods in the Reds' performance.

"For large parts, it was good actually," the No.24, who played 75 minutes at the Etihad Stadium, continued. "People look at the scoreline and probably forget that.

"As players, we're disappointed with how it fared but apart from a couple of lapses of concentration and focus, we gave a good account of ourselves and there were positives to take from it.

"Particularly in the first half, I thought we dominated the play at times and looked like we were the ones in control. To do that away from home at the Etihad is not an easy task.

"We all looked confident and you could see the belief in the team, that we were there to win and we could. Unfortunately, the timing of the goal - just before half-time - gave them a big boost and made it tough for us to pull ourselves back.

"Everyone is giving 100 per cent and no-one intends to lose focus. In an away game against a tough team like Manchester City, they are always going to get a chance out of nothing.

"It's up to us to make sure next time that we don't give them the opportunity to do that. We're now excited for Sunday's game to bounce straight back and put things right, because we didn't quite do it in the City game, and this time come away with the points."

The style with which Rodgers' players surged towards the Premier League title in 2013-14, plus the amount of transfer business conducted this summer, has naturally raised expectations on the club.

Allen insists that has no bearing on the squad, though, particularly as he believes the nine new recruits to have walked into Melwood improve the overall balance of the group.

"Internally, it's no different - we understand there will be more focus and outside pressure and expectation," said the 24-year-old.

"Among ourselves, we've targeted keeping that run going that we had at the end of last season and keeping that momentum up. We got a victory at Anfield, which was important for us, and we're all really excited.

"We've brought in players that have strengthened us and our squad looks like it has got a really good balance throughout and is capable of competing at the top of the table once again."