Three reasons why Liverpool should take the Europa League seriously
Gregor Vasconcelos explains why Liverpool should be taking Europa League seriously
A shot at redemption
Liverpool’s long-awaited return to the Champions League was, by all accounts, a fiasco. Not even the spirited ten-men fight back against Basel could sugar coat what was a disappointing campaign that produced a single win in six games. When the draw was made, Liverpool spoke of being back where they belong and the excitement of drawing Real Madrid. When Los Blancos came to Anfield, it brought Liverpool right back down to earth. Failure to beat Basel both home and away condemned them to a third position. This, however, means Liverpool still have a chance to prosper in Europe. While Besiktas won’t be an easy tie, Liverpool carry the momentum and should be confident of going through. Maybe they won’t scale the heights they hoped for back in August, but the Europa League has given them a chance of redemption.
Champions League qualification
This year, for the first time, winning the Europa League means a place in next year’s Champions League play-offs. While Liverpool are firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish in the league, they may find this easier route back into Europe’s premier club competition. In the home front, they face competition from the likes of Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United and Southampton for third and fourth positions. In their run-in, they still have to go away to Southampton, Chelsea and Arsenal, as well as play United and Manchester City at home. They are also four points adrift of the fourth place Saints. In the Europa League, they have a level playing field and will be among the favourites to lift the trophy in Warsaw come May.
Last chance for European glory for Gerrard
Istanbul 2005 was the performance that defined Steven Gerrard’s career and sealed not only his name, but the Reds’ in footballing history. Liverpool’s return to the Champions League made fans dream of such nights in Lisbon come June. This season’s disappointing campaign dashed those hopes, but there is still another opportunity for that, in the less glamorous European final in Poland. The dream to take Gerrard to Wembley on his birthday for the FA Cup final is becoming ever more realistic, especially after they were handed a draw to Blackburn Rovers in the quarter-finals. But what would be more fitting than one last amazing European night for Liverpool’s captain before he goes off to grace Los Angeles with his talents?