Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert has backed his side to continue to progress in Europe…
Rickie Lambert has set his sights on Europa League glory with Liverpool this season, starting with Thursday evening’s game against Besiktas at Anfield – the first leg of our Last 32 tie.
We enter the competition among the favourites to win it, despite having dropped out of the Champions League late last year as a result of finishing third in our group, behind Real Madrid and FC Basel.
Thankfully, we are a much improved side since our last European outing, where Steven Gerrard’s superb free-kick against the Swiss side was not enough to propel us into the latter stages of the continent’s premier competition.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has since developed a highly effective 3-4-3 formation, incorporating wing-backs on each flank, with an established defensive three of Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Emre Can.
We have lost just one of our last 16 games in all competitions using the system, and that came against Premier League leaders Chelsea after extra time. The run has clearly spread confidence throughout the squad – as Lambert’s comments demonstrate.
He is quoted by Goal.com as saying: “We’d been waiting for so many years to get into the Champions League so we were desperate to stay in it.
“But we weren’t playing well when the Champions League was there. If we’d just managed to sneak through, who knows what we would have been able to do now.
“Like I knew we were going to, we’re playing at our best again now. We’re in the Europa League and it’s something that we’ll be trying to win.”
A new addition this year sees the Europa League winners handed an automatic qualification spot for next season’s Champions League, placing even more importance on the Reds potential progress.
“You come into it at a good stage. I know it’s not the Champions League but it’s still a great competition. There is more prestige with a Champions League spot up for grabs,” he continued.
“We’re trying to get into the top four, but we’re also desperate to win a trophy. If it’s not going to be both the FA Cup and Europa League then we’ll be trying for either one of them. If the added bonus is that you get a Champions League spot then that’s even better.”