Milner hoping to avoid all-English clash in Champions League quarter-finals

James Milner wants Liverpool to avoid English opponents in the Champions League quarter-final draw on Friday.

Liverpool joined Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham in the last eight of the competition by beating Bayern Munich 3-1 in Germany on Wednesday.

Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus and Porto complete the quarter-final line-up, and Milner hopes as many English teams as possible make the last four.

“To have four teams in the last eight is great for England,” Liverpool midfielder Milner said.

“I don’t want to play any of the others, to be honest. We want as many (as possible) going forward.

“In previous years, we have always had the belief that the Premier League is the best in the world. But it has been a top league and there haven’t been that many teams (in the latter stages) of this one.”

This is the first time England has had four teams in the quarter-finals since Liverpool and United were joined by Arsenal and Chelsea in the 2008-09 campaign.

Liverpool reached the final of the Champions League last season before losing 3-1 to Real Madrid in Kiev.

But England, whose teams dominated the old European Cup between 1976 and 1984 with seven wins, has not supplied a champion since Chelsea in 2012.

“Every team left in the competition is a good side,” Milner said.

“We know that. People will look at Porto and Ajax (as weaker), but they are young teams and they are flying.

“They deserve to be there and we know they will be tough teams.”

Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring City are the favourites with the bookmakers after their 10-2 aggregate thrashing of German club Schalke in the last 16.

Barcelona and Juventus come next in the betting ahead of Liverpool, United and Spurs, with Ajax and Porto the two big outsiders.

United great Ryan Giggs believes his former club enter the draw as potential winners after upsetting fancied Paris St Germain to make the quarter-finals.

“I don’t see why not when he’s gone to PSG with the team he’s got and won,” Giggs said, when asked if his former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could land European football’s biggest prize while in caretaker charge at Old Trafford.

“There are worse teams that have done well and got to finals. They have undoubtedly got the quality and the confidence at the moment.

“But there are still some big teams in there. It will be difficult, but not impossible.

“They are playing brilliantly and the results have been amazing.”

- Press Association

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