Why the Reds must keep their focus in the Europa League

Heading into the first leg of the Quarter-Finals this Thursday, the Reds need composure.
Liverpool FC v Toulouse FC: Group E - UEFA Europa League 2023/24
Liverpool FC v Toulouse FC: Group E - UEFA Europa League 2023/24 / Matt McNulty/GettyImages

It's never easy to drop points in a critical game against your mortal rivals. Much less, in a scenario in which you needed the maximum in order to keep pace in such a hotly contested title race.

We're a few days removed from Sunday's 2-2 draw against Manchester United, a game which saw Liverpool fail to take advantage of numerous opportunities to seal the points and come out with a famous victory.

Instead, giving their rivals life in what amounted to a draw that, while damaging, isn't necessarily fatal to the Reds' title chances.

It's easy to get lost in the frustration of the result, easy enough to forget that there's a Europa League game to be played toward the tail end of this week, and all things considered, the Reds remain favorites in the competition. A fact that seems to be forgotten due to the chaos of the current title race.

Weighing up the opposition

The Reds face Atalanta in the Europa League Quarterfinals. It's a familiar face, considering the two sides met back in the 2020 Champions League group stages, with both clubs managing to get a victory over each other.

It's no secret that the Reds are favorites over the Italian outfit, who sit currently sixth in the Serie A and are a different team compared to the side the Reds faced a few years ago.

This isn't any indication to take Atalanta lightly however, as they remain a decent team who can hurt Liverpool if they aren't careful.

With the first leg being at Anfield though, there's certainly the opportunity for the Reds to try and land some devastating punches to try and end the tie early. This would present the most ideal scenario for them, especially considering their title rivals in Manchester City and Arsenal are involved in absolute dog-fights in their respective Champions League ties, both hanging at a knife's edge.

Who will be involved?

This is probably the most intriguing aspect of this fixture, as the Liverpool squad seem to have been handed a much needed boost before their Europa League clash.

The likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, and Diogo Jota have been spotted throughout Liverpool training today, with the trio returning being a supreme sight for sore eyes, as they featured throughout Liverpool's best moments this year.

There's no doubt the squad coped very well throughout their absence, but you certainly couldn't have picked a better time for the trio to return, at such a critical point of the season.

Things finally seem to be falling into place just in time for the stretch run.

A not-so-early prediction

Alright, cards on the table, Liverpool need this win. While I did mention that the United draw wasn't a fatal blow, it certainly remains a damaging one, and it's understandable that some fans' heads have dropped heading into this fixture.

In essence, the Reds need the propaganda smack-down of a convincing win on Thursday, not only to put them in an excellent position to start resting players by the second leg of the tie, but to also show any supporters that are wobbling a little bit that the club is ready for this absolute slog to close out the year.

All things considered, I'm going for a 4-1 Liverpool win. Fully expecting the boys to come out firing on a trademark Anfield European night, with the likes of Trent and Diogo possibly getting some minutes to shake off the rust.

Up the Reds!