Brendan Rodgers immediately welcomed the 'special' news that Liverpool will meet holders Real Madrid in the Champions League after the group stage draw took place in Monaco this evening.

For their return to Europe's elite club competition, the Reds have been allotted to Group B alongside the Spanish giants, Swiss outfit FC Basel and Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad.

"Initially, we're excited," the boss told at Melwood once the draw had concluded.

"That was last season's hard work, what we were working towards - getting Liverpool back into a competition where we are synonymous.

"To be back in it again, no matter who we were going to play, it was always going to be exciting. But to have Real Madrid in your group, the champions last season, is going to be special.

"I'm already thinking of Anfield on that night. But there are two other good teams in it along with us. It's a tough group but we'll really look forward to the challenge of getting out of the group."

The Reds have faced Real on three previous occasions in European football and been victorious in each and every meeting, including the 1981 final in Paris.

Two ties with Basel resulted in a pair of draws more than a decade ago, while the club has no past history with Ludogorets.

This evening's draw has not altered the objective set - qualification from the group stage - by Rodgers, however, and the boss was delighted for the supporters watching live.

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"The notion for us was to get out of the group stage - we can look no further than that," the Northern Irishman continued.

"It was great excitement and hopefully it was great for the supporters to sit and watch the draw for the first time in five years.

"Now we know the teams that we're playing, we'll focus to get out of the group. That's as far as you can look. Once you get out of the group stages, you take it from there.

"Preparation will start straight away. Some of the teams we're well aware of; we watch the likes of Real Madrid nearly every week and we know their players.

"But as soon as the draw is finalised, the work and the focus will be on that. We have our analysis team behind the scenes who will do all the preparation work we need for our opponents. It will be exciting for them as well."

As he gave his reaction to the draw from the club's training base, the smile on Rodgers' face told the story of a manager hugely anticipating the opportunity to lead Liverpool in the Champions League.

It is a privilege that he happily shares with both the players at his disposal and the Reds' supporters, who the boss believes have an important role for their team this season.

He added: "I'll be very proud but more proud for the players and the supporters, for what they have put into us arriving there.

"They will be critical and they are going to be key for us throughout the league campaign and the Champions League campaign. The nights at Anfield are really special.

"To see that flag back out in the middle of the pitch and for the supporters to get behind their team like they do is going to be an amazing experience."