IF the reality of Champions League failure hasn’t already hit home for Liverpool supporters, it will do shortly before kick-off this evening.

Another European night it may be, but the absence of a familiar theme tune will provide the final confirmation of an unwelcome break in tradition for Rafael Benitez’s side.

For the first time under the Spaniard, Liverpool will rub shoulders with the second tier of the Continent as the Europa League knockout stages begin.

While Manchester United this week travelled to the San Siro, Anfield plays host to Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni.

Such a fall from grace is an unwelcome reminder of a season of toil and underachievement for Benitez and his players.

But while the target has been downgraded, the goal remains the same for Emiliano Insua.

“I was watching some Champions League games on Tuesday night, and it’s not nice to see United there and we aren’t,” says the Argentina international.

“Obviously every player wants to play there, but we are in the Europa League and this is all we can focus on now.

Although a crowd of around 40,000 is expected this evening, it remains to be seen whether supporters – and indeed the players – warm to the competition, particularly given the priority is addressing Liverpool’s precarious Premier League position and ensuring a swift return to the Champions League next season.

But Insua insists: “Motivation won’t be a problem, because it’s a European competition. It’ll be a bit strange to see Liverpool in a Europa League game because Liverpool are one of the best clubs in Europe.

“I think we didn’t deserve to go out of the Champions League but the only thing we can do now is try and win the Europa League and the first step is to try and win on Thursday.

“It’s an important competition for us because it’s the only trophy we can win but the most important competition is the Champions League and we must work towards that again.

Elimination from the Champions League could affect Insua’s chances of appearing for Argentina in this summer’s World Cup, given the lower profile of the Europa League back in his homeland.

“Will anyone in Argentina be watching? It depends on the teams involved,” says the defender. “There are so many good teams in the Europa League that I think people will watch when there are some important games between some big clubs.”

Now in his third full season since arriving from Boca Juniors, Insua has capitalised on the ongoing injury problems of Fabio Aurelio to become a first-team regular at left-back, with only Dirk Kuyt having made more appearances for Liverpool this campaign.

“I always expect to play for the first team and it has given me a lot of confidence to be involved so much,” says Insua. “All the staff and the players in the dressing room are giving me a lot of confidence and I don’t feel like a young player anymore.”

Read the article on Liverpool Daily Post

Liverpool FC v Unirea Urziceni Preview: Why the target still remains the same for Emiliano Insua

IF the reality of Champions League failure hasn’t already hit home for Liverpool supporters, it will do shortly before kick-off this evening.

Another European night it may be, but the absence of a familiar theme tune will provide the final confirmation of an unwelcome break in tradition for Rafael Benitez’s side.

For the first time under the Spaniard, Liverpool will rub shoulders with the second tier of the Continent as the Europa League knockout stages begin.

While Manchester United this week travelled to the San Siro, Anfield plays host to Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni.

Such a fall from grace is an unwelcome reminder of a season of toil and underachievement for Benitez and his players.

But while the target has been downgraded, the goal remains the same for Emiliano Insua.

“I was watching some Champions League games on Tuesday night, and it’s not nice to see United there and we aren’t,” says the Argentina international.

“Obviously every player wants to play there, but we are in the Europa League and this is all we can focus on now.

Although a crowd of around 40,000 is expected this evening, it remains to be seen whether supporters – and indeed the players – warm to the competition, particularly given the priority is addressing Liverpool’s precarious Premier League position and ensuring a swift return to the Champions League next season.

But Insua insists: “Motivation won’t be a problem, because it’s a European competition. It’ll be a bit strange to see Liverpool in a Europa League game because Liverpool are one of the best clubs in Europe.

“I think we didn’t deserve to go out of the Champions League but the only thing we can do now is try and win the Europa League and the first step is to try and win on Thursday.

“It’s an important competition for us because it’s the only trophy we can win but the most important competition is the Champions League and we must work towards that again.

Elimination from the Champions League could affect Insua’s chances of appearing for Argentina in this summer’s World Cup, given the lower profile of the Europa League back in his homeland.

“Will anyone in Argentina be watching? It depends on the teams involved,” says the defender. “There are so many good teams in the Europa League that I think people will watch when there are some important games between some big clubs.”

Now in his third full season since arriving from Boca Juniors, Insua has capitalised on the ongoing injury problems of Fabio Aurelio to become a first-team regular at left-back, with only Dirk Kuyt having made more appearances for Liverpool this campaign.

“I always expect to play for the first team and it has given me a lot of confidence to be involved so much,” says Insua. “All the staff and the players in the dressing room are giving me a lot of confidence and I don’t feel like a young player anymore.”

Read the article on Liverpool Daily Post

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