By Kaushik H
The Europa League competition has became somewhat compelling for Liverpool. Considering the fact that the Anfield club have been without a trophy in Europe since 2005, the Reds’ are eager to build on from that memorable night in Istanbul. However, the Champions League glory days could not seem any further away, and after being knocked out of Europe’s top elite, the Europa League could turn out to solely be at the hub of everything the Reds’ may achieve in the next few seasons.
However, despite putting the importance of winning a trophy in Europe in perspective, there are still negatives and good reasons why Europa League may not be the solution to our problems in gaining trophies in Europe.
For example, in 2009-2010, in Rafa Benitez’s last season at Liverpool, we had made it all the way into the semi-final, after beating the likes of Lille and Benfica along the way. However, we only had ourselves to blame as we went into the second leg at Anfield against Athletico Madrid 1-0 down. Despite winning the return leg 2-1, Athletico Madrid’s away goal advantage broke Liverpool hearts. Many had begun to wonder whether or not our lethargic season back then was down to the distraction of Europe.
In 2012-2013, neutralists were surprised to see Liverpool being accustomed with decent form in the Europa League. We had progressed (narrowly) from the group, but after losing 2-0 in Russia in the first leg, we had been defeated on away goals in the 2nd leg, despite winning 3-1. That proved to have a negative bearing on our season, as we achieved an unsatisfying 7th. Again, a possible factor for our sluggish season could have been down the fatigueness provided by the Europa League.
In 2014-2015, further disappointment was down the road. We were eliminated from the Champions League, and normal service looked to be resumed as we led Beskitas 1-0 in the first leg. However, in the 2nd leg, we simply weren’t at the races. In a dire performance, the Reds’ lost 1-0 and were defeated on penalties.
Liverpool have a fairly strong squad, and that’s not favouritism. With the likes of Suarez, Henderson and Downing in the side, we looked a force in Europe. However, the intensity that other teams played at just proved to be too high, as we struggled to catch up in the league that year. Also, this season we were too slow off the pace in the Premier League as this may have acted as ‘jetlag’ in our persuit for a top 4 finish, which was far off.
Energy, passion and creativity is the key to success and the Europa League may not exactly be the saving grace for the Reds.