UEFA has given Liverpool a major advantage that Jürgen Klopp can use for Premier League gain


The Europa League tends to put greater travel demands on its participants than the Champions League, as Liverpool knows only too well. This season will be just the fourth in which the Reds have participated in the Group Stage of Europe’s second-tier competition, yet the club already holds memories of trips to face the likes of Steaua Bucharest, Anzhi Makhachkala and Rubin Kazan from campaigns past.

Had the draw for this season's Europa League panned out differently, Liverpool might have been handed games in Azerbaijan, Israel and Cyprus, playing Qarabag, Maccabi Haifa and Limassol respectively. 

While the draw was more difficult than that scenario in terms of the quality of the teams — at least if measured by the UEFA coefficients of the clubs involved — Jürgen Klopp will be delighted that his side do not have to overcome that level of travel.

The Reds have been drawn against LASK, Union Saint-Gilloise (two sides they’ve not previously faced) and Toulouse, meaning they will be adding Austria, Belgium and France to the club’s collective passport this season. Almost every other team in the competition will be jealous of Liverpool’s travel plans, in terms of distance if not opponents faced.

Despite being the fourth-most western club in the draw, Liverpool only has a cumulative distance of 3,046.93 kilometers to cover in order to complete its three away fixtures. One way to put that into context is to note that the distance between Qarabag and Molde, two clubs that will meet in Group H, is 3,742.22 kilometers.

But not every side is punished to that extent. Even so, research posted on Reddit has revealed that only Slavia Prague and Liverpool’s forthcoming opponent Union Saint-Gilloise have less traveling to undertake in the 2023/24 Group Stage. Klopp and the Reds simply must take advantage of this fortuitous situation.

The Liverpool manager and his coaching team will no doubt be using this international window to plot which players will feature in which Europa League games over the next three months. As a general rule, Klopp has used weaker sides for away games where possible, only using his big guns at home when traveling is not an issue. Perhaps the nature of the draw will blur this squad management system though.

There’s also the difficulty of the league fixture taking place three days after the European engagement has been negotiated to consider. Again, the Reds have been blessed with good fortune in this respect too.

Just one of their six Premier League matches which directly follows a Europa League fixture is away from home. As it’s at Brighton’s AMEX Stadium, a venue at which Liverpool was beaten twice and by a 5-1 aggregate last season, there could be easier tests to face. But even this particular week could have been worse as the Reds host Union Saint-Gilloise in midweek, rather than having to set sail overseas.

Klopp’s greater concern will likely be who lies in wait directly after his side plays away in Europe on a Thursday night. There are easier trios to tackle than West Ham, Brentford and Manchester United, though as all will have to visit Anfield, it could be far worse.

The last of those games is by far the biggest, and thankfully it takes place after the final match in the Group Stage. While Liverpool will have traveled to Belgium three days earlier, it should have secured qualification prior to that game and likely won’t have to take any risks with their key players ahead of a massive derby in the northwest of England.

The thought of a draining trip to Eastern Europe directly before a clash with Manchester United doesn’t bear thinking about. Klopp will be delighted that his squad’s travel demands have been kept to a near minimum.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Liverpool ready to offer 14 goal star new long-term contract, 25-year-old viewed as future of Merseyside club

Liverpool could plot Xabi Alonso and Bayer Leverkusen raid of Florian Wirtz and four stars

£35 million star has "verbally agreed personal terms" with Liverpool

Romeo Lavia has just tweeted four words as Liverpool transfer rumours swirl

Moises Caicedo now left furious after what Brighton have just done