The Europa League in modern times is often seen as not being important to many clubs across Europe.
The Champions League is the tournament that every club wants to compete in and every player wants to play in, which has made the difficult Europa League less competitive. UEFA have in recent times decided to allow the winner of the Europa League to automatically qualify for the Champions League, but for some reason even this hasn’t made the tournament more competitive.
However, this season Liverpool should go for gold in the Europa League. Here are four reasons why.
English Sides’ Failures In Europe
In recent years, English sides have failed to challenge in Europe. The last side to win the Europa League was Chelsea in 2013 and they also managed to win the Champions League in dramatic fashion in 2012. Between 2005 and 2009 there was at least one English side in the Champions League final every year, including an all-English final between Manchester United and Chelsea in 2008.
Within this time Liverpool reached two Champions League finals, winning one and losing one against AC Milan while Arsenal fell to defeat against Barcelona in 2006. Manchester United lost two finals against the mighty Barcelona in 2009 and 2011 and won one in 2008 while Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich in 2012. Since then, however, there has been no English side in the final.
English sides’ record in the UEFA Cup/Europa League is less then impressive compared to their Champions League record as Chelsea were the last English side to lift the trophy while you will have to go all the way back to 2001, when Liverpool defeated Alaves 5-4, to find the last time an English side won the tournament.
In 2010 Fulham came close but they lost to Atletico Madrid 2-1 in the final while Middlesbrough lost 4-0 to Sevilla in 2006. Any other English triumph in the UEFA Cup will have to be traced back to the 1980s where Tottenham won the competition in 1984 and Ipswich Town lifted the trophy in 1981. The lack of success in the Europa League compared to the Champions League within the last couple of decades doesn’t come down to lack of ability from the English sides but it comes from the fact that English clubs don’t care about the competition.
Last week we saw Manchester United lose 2-1 to FC Midtjylland, Tottenham held to a 1-1 draw against Fiorentina and Liverpool held to a scoreless draw against Augsburg with all three matches making little or no impact on the football world besides the shock that United lost to a side they should be beating.
Liverpool should do everything to break the trend, and put everything into attempting to win the competition this season.
Liverpool’s Status In Europe
It has now been eleven years since Liverpool won the dramatic Istanbul Champions League final against AC Milan in 2005 and Liverpool have failed to win any European trophy since coming close in 2007. The Reds’ status as a European giant has been suffering as of late due to the lack of trophies and a number of seasons where they have failed to qualify for the Champions League.
This is a club that has won five European Cups, three UEFA Cups and three Super Cups so they should be doing everything to make a comeback as a force in Europe. Making an impact in the Europa League this season would do just that.
Champions League Qualification
Former Liverpool star Luis Suarez this week stated that he believes Liverpool belong in the Champions League:
“I will always watch Liverpool and look for their results, they will always be a very special club for me,” Suarez told the Daily Express.
“I would love to see them back in the Champions League. They have a new coach who is one of the most experienced in Europe, so I am sure they can be back there soon. It is where that special club belongs.”
Liverpool do belong in the Champions League but a chance of qualifying for the competition next season via finishing in the top four in the Premier League this term looks next to impossible. They would have to go on an impressive run from now until the end of the season and also expect teams around them like West Ham, Southampton and Manchester United to slip up to get close to competing with the top four. Liverpool currently sit 8th in the league and they are nine points off 4th placed Manchester City with only 12 games left. Consistency is one aspect that has been missing in Liverpool’s form this season so the chances of going on a run from now until May look slim.
Winning the Europa League may be a tough task with sides like Dortmund, Porto, Fenerbahce, Anderlecht, Napoli and Sevilla still in the competition but Liverpool have been lucky in some cup games this season in the League Cup and Europa League so if they can carry this luck into the rest of the competition they have as much of a chance as any other side.
There is a prize breakdown for teams that continue to progress in the Europa League. The prize money for the knockout stage is €120,000. The prize money for the round of 32 rises to €500,000 and up to €750,000 for the round of 16. The quarter-finals offers prize money of €1 million while the semi-final rewards sides with €1.5 million. €3.5 million goes to the runner up while it is estimated that €6.5 million is up for grabs for the team that wins the entire competition.
Liverpool’s new boss Jurgen Klopp is planning a clear out this summer so if he is planning on giving his Liverpool side an expensive makeover then he is going to need as much funds as he can get his hands on. The prize money up for grabs in the Europa League could help add much needed funds to Klopp’s summer kitty.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena
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