After suffering a setback in the 2016 finals, Liverpool will aim to win the Europa League as they make a return to the second tier of European football competition when they take on Austrian side LASK this Thursday. A fifth-placed finish in the Premier League last season saw Liverpool miss out on a spot in the Champions League, with the Reds being put in Group E of the Europa League with Union St.Gilloise, Toulouse, and Thursday’s opposition, LASK.
Jurgen Klopp-led squad enters the clash in good form, following a 3-1 win over Wolves on the weekend, making it four wins in a row for the Premier League giant. Klopp, having built a dynasty with the Reds, winning everything on offer to the German. But, the only trophy that has evaded Liverpool under Klopp’s reign is the Europa League, and Liverpool now has the chance to win the trophy during the 2023/24 season after the 2016 final defeat to Sevilla.
The German insists Liverpool is in the Europa League to win it and arrives in Linz “to compete, not to give opportunities.” Klopp said, according to Sky Sports, “My first year, I thought the Europa League was a bit too much for us until we got to the final. We had to fly to Russia, played on a frozen pitch in Sion. That was a different squad. We were not ready and we came through somehow. I don’t think we were exceptional until the quarter-final, semi-final.
“It is a different time, a different team. We are better prepared. We enjoy it more to be here because we had no clue at that time what to expect. We have to be motivated, and we are excited to play in the Europa League. I didn’t watch the Champions League (this week), I didn’t miss the anthem.”
None of the 2016 final squad remains at Anfield with Joe Gomez – who was 18 at the time but out injured – the only current player to have played in the Europa League for Liverpool. But while there have been significant alterations to the playing squad this summer, the core of that trophy-winning band remains together, and Klopp’s side is the odds-on favourite to go one better than they did seven years ago.
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