Champions League failure will hurt Liverpool - but a Europa League place can still benefit the Reds
Jurgen Klopp would never admit it publicly, but Liverpool’s hopes of Champions League qualification this season are all but over.
With nine games remaining, the Reds need a perfect end to their own campaign, as well as an almost unprecedented collapse from at least two of the sides above them, if they are to take their place at Europe’s top table next term.
That would have seemed unimaginable when the season started amid a wave of optimism back in August, but a testing autumn and a miserable winter mean the skies over Anfield have changed dramatically. Try finding optimism now.
Liverpool currently sit eighth in the Premier League, 12 points off both Newcastle and Manchester United, who occupy third and fourth place. Even Europa League qualification, at this point, looks a tall order - the Reds are nine points behind fifth-placed Tottenham, and have surprise packages Aston Villa and Brighton in front of them too.
To some fans, that last point may not be seen as a bad thing. It may seem like a damning indictment of modern football and its ‘need it now’ culture, but there are plenty who would prefer Liverpool to miss out on European football entirely if they are unable to qualify for the Champions League.
The idea of Thursday nights in the Europa League - or worse still, the recently-formed Europa Conference League - is unpalatable for some, but from the club’s perspective there are clear benefits to qualifying for Europe’s consolation competition…