Hello and welcome to follow live Liverpool’s return to the Europa League for the first time since their defeat against Sevilla (natch) in the 2016 final. It was Jürgen Klopp’s first partial season at Anfield and far from sulking the winning coach of the 2018 Champions League and three-time runner-up (once with Dortmund), is enjoying this competition and aiming for victory. No trophy snobbery here, which is refreshing to hear.
“I think we all need to make sure that we all respect the competition in the right way, that we respect the opponents in the right way,” he said in his press conference last night. “I would love to get to the final, obviously, but I have no idea if we can achieve that because there will be a lot of fantastic football teams between us and that goal, so we need to make sure we perform.” To that end, he insists, he does not see this as the ideal opportunity to donate blood to young people. “We have some real talent there, but it’s not experimental. I think if we’re not hit by an injury crisis we should have enough players to field a top team on Thursday and Sunday, and that’s pretty much the idea. Of their confirmed players, only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Thiago have remained at home to continue their rehabilitation, but will no doubt make their European bows for the season in the upcoming group matches against Union Saint-Gilloise and Toulouse.
Once rid of the fatigue of returning to international duty in their opening match against Wolves on Saturday, Liverpool toppled the home side in the second half, striking with clinical ruthlessness, in stark contrast to the Wanderers’ profligacy in the first half-time. They were just as clinical in their comeback win over Newcastle and were surgically devastating against a very good Villa side before the international break. Five days after their last match, they should be in great shape.
As for LASK, who finished third in the Bundesliga last year and are in the same place after seven matches of the current Austrian league season, Bronko Jovcic’s second-half away goal ensured Die Laskler a 3-2 aggregate victory over Zrinjski Mostar in the play-off round. Didi Kühbauer, their coach last season, was fired this summer after a disagreement over recruitment. Proceeds from the sale of Japanese winger Keito Nakamura to Reims for £10 million were not reinvested in transfer fees and they line up tonight with half a dozen Bosman signings in the hoping, as always, to punch above their weight.