Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wants his side to make the most of the Europa League after the Reds disappointingly crashed out in the group stages of the Champions League earlier this campaign. The Reds host Turkish side Besiktas at Anfield in the Round of 32 on Thursday night.
A fit Daniel Sturridge and a quicker integration of the summer signing could have taken Liverpool in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite club competition. The Reds have tasted only one defeat in the last 16 games and the Champions League’s evil cousin could provide the Merseyside giants a chance to atone for their poor display in Europe earlier.
Rodgers said, “The frustration of the Champions League was that we put in two years of hard work to get to that stage and when we arrived there we didn’t have the team to show our way of working.”
“It was not us earlier in the season and I was always hopeful we could still be in the Champions League at this stage and show our way of working. It was not to be but this is still a very good competition and we will attack these games against Besiktas like we have in the last few months.”
The manager also said that Liverpool will push hard to take a lead to Turkey which would give them a good chance to go through from the two legged tie. He said, “We are at a different stage now with a different mentality and these games will be tough, but our objective is to take a lead over to Turkey. There is no reason why we can’t do that with the form we are in.”
Liverpool had earlier recorded a 8-0 win over Besiktas Nat Anfield when Rafa Benitez was in charge of the Reds way back in 2007.
Daniel Sturridge who is set to make hsi European debut for Liverpool also sounded excited ahead of the game. “It’s incredible to think this is my European debut with Liverpool. I can’t wait to finally get out there. I’ve waited such a long time to play this game. It has been very difficult to sit out and watch all those games we have played in the Champions League without being part of it.”
“I was there in the Bernabéu with the team and watching the lads from the stands and I admit it wasn’t nice to be sat there watching on a night like that. But it wasn’t just that game in the Bernabéu, every single game was hard for me to watch. I’m over that period now and I have to look forward to what I can achieve, not what I’ve missed.”