Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reiterated the club’s intention to take the Europa League seriously this season, having missed out on Champions League qualification.
The Reds finished fifth in the Premier League last season, their lowest in any of Klopp’s full campaigns in charge, and didn’t secure a place in Europe’s top competition for 2023/24 as a result.
But a difficult period saw Liverpool fall as low as mid-table in early February and they were still eighth and seemingly struggling even to make it into Europa at all as late as April. It was only a run of 23 points from the final 27 on offer that pushed them into a Europa League place.
When he conceded defeat in the hunt for a top four finish in May, Klopp said Liverpool would “make [the Europa League] our competition” and that he wasn’t so “spoilt” that it wouldn’t be considered worth his or the club’s proper attention.
Now, as Liverpool prepare to face Austrian side LASK in their group opener, that hasn’t changed.
“First and foremost, I think we all have to make sure that we all respect the competition in the right manner, that we respect the opponents in the right manner,” Klopp told TNT Sports.
“Wherever we go it will be a massive game for the teams, everybody who comes to Anfield it will be a massive game. In the [UEFA] Champions League [it was] the same but it will be here as well, and we have to be 100 per cent ready for that.
“We want to go as far as somehow possible. I would love to go to the final, obviously, but I have no clue if we can reach that because there will be a lot of fantastic football teams in between us and that target, so we have to make sure we perform.”
The last time Liverpool played in the Europa League, which was only a few months after Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers as manager, the Reds reached the 2016 final but lost to Sevilla.
They are, however, one of the most successful clubs in the history of the competition, dating back to its UEFA Cup years. Liverpool have lifted the trophy on three occasions – 1973, 1976 and 2001 – which at the time of the latter triumph equalled the overall record then jointly held by Inter and Juventus.
Atletico Madrid have since also won it three times, while Sevilla have gone on to more recently blitz the competition to win seven titles in the last 18 seasons alone.
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