Manchester United News: Liverpool Drawn as UEFA Europa League Opponent for First Time in History

Wayne Rooney scores at Anfield on January 17.
Wayne Rooney of Manchester United at Anfield, January 17, 2016. United and Liverpool have been drawn together in Europe for the first time. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

English football's two greatest domestic powers will meet in European competition for the first time in March after Manchester United was paired with Liverpool in the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 draw.

A lack of seeding and any restrictions on teams from the same country facing each other, as there are in the UEFA Champions League, opened up the possibility that the two English Premier League giants could be drawn against each other.

The two have faced one another 177 times in history, but improbably, never so far in Europe.

The first leg will be at Anfield, Liverpool, on Thursday March 10, with the return at Old Trafford a week later on March 17.

"That [the draw] is great, really," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. "We deserve these games. It is not easy but you can ask my staff. They asked me yesterday 'who do we want?' and I said Manchester United.

"In this round there was no easy game. Manchester United? Cool."

United defeated F.C. Midtjylland of Denmark over two legs in the Round of 32, while Liverpool overcame Augsburg of Germany.

The tie represents the most realistic route for either team of making the Champions League for next season, with Liverpool out of contention in the Premier League and United hanging onto local rival Manchester City's coattails to finish in the top four.

The winner of the Europa League gains a place in the Champions League for 2016-17.

The third English team in the competition, Tottenham Hotspur, faces two difficult games against Borussia Dortmund, Klopp's former team, which is second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich.

Full draw (ties to be played March 10 and 17)

Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) vs. Anderlecht (BEL)
Basel (SUI) vs. Sevilla (ESP, holders)
Villarreal (ESP) vs. Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Athletic Club (ESP) vs. Valencia (ESP)
Liverpool (ENG) vs. Manchester United (ENG)
Sparta Praha (CZE) vs. Lazio (ITA)
Borussia Dortmund (GER) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
Fenerbahçe (TUR) vs. Braga (POR)