Liverpool were knocked out of the UEFA Europa League by Turkish side Besiktas on Thursday in what was actually one of the upsets of the round. The loss was definitely unexpected, especially after we put in a good display in the first leg at Anfield, but at the end of the day, the only thing that mattered was the number of goals we had scored. For the umpteenth time, the Reds failed to capitalize on a good attacking display by not finding the back of the net often enough, and while a Mario Balotelli goal was enough to give us a one nil lead after the first leg, it turned out to be too little as Besiktas managed to make a successful comeback. The manner in which we lost the tie made it even harder for us Reds to endure but the honest truth at this point of time is that our Europa League exit actually doesn’t hurt that much.
The reasons behind this train of thought is pretty simple. UEFA’s second tier continental competition is considered by many, if not most football folks as a double edged sword, and for good reason. The Europa’s league first drawback is that the matchdays are on Thursday, which simply means that Liverpool would have been required to play a Europa League game on Thursday and come back to England to play a Premier League game on Sunday. This Thursday- Sunday routine is extremely irksome as it fails to offer the players enough time to rest before their domestic games. The second biggest drawback of this tournament is the geographical locations of the teams playing in it. While the Champions League hosts teams from the bigger European leagues, which are densely concentrated in Western Europe, the Europa League houses teams from numerous countries that are not just located on the Western frontier of Europe, but all over the continent. So, this means that Liverpool could have been required to travel to distant lands such as Ukraine, Bulgaria and, as they did in this round, Turkey.
Hence, had they still been participating in the competition, the Reds would have been required to travel to far off locations, which means more time and energy lost in travel and lesser time to recuperate for their Premier League games which would be on Sunday, that is in two days time.
At this point of time, and after considering these two pivotal points, the Europa League does indeed some like a bane rather than a boon. With the pressure of extra games and an unfavourable fixture routine now out of the picture, Liverpool can focus all their attention and resources on the Premier League.
A top four finish is something that we must attain this season in order to guarantee a return to the UEFA Champions League which not only adds to the club’s appeal, but also brings in more cash for us to use. Liverpool’s shock exit from the Europa League is definitely a blessing a disguise and with that distraction out of the way, we can concentrate on the Premier League and make sure that we finish as higher up the League as possible.