Any club in the Europa League which reaches the semi-final will be good enough to be in the Champions League too.

Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez does not believe the Europa League can be viewed as a poor relation of the UEFA Champions League.

The Reds boss saw his side lose their place at European football’s top table during a dismal group stage campaign and is now preparing for the last-32 meeting with Unirea Urziceni.

With the Anfield outfit well off the pace in the Premier League, out of the FA Cup and Carling Cup, the Europa League is Benitez’s only remaining opportunity for silverware this season.

And the Spaniard has pledged to do everything to claim victory in a competition which features fellow Champions League drop-outs Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Marseille, Wolfsburg and Thursday night’s opponents.

They supplemented a competition which already boasted clubs such as Valencia, Villarreal, Hamburg and Sporting Lisbon – not to mention Premier League sides Fulham and Everton.

„To be fair, if you analyse the teams that are in the competition there are some very strong teams,” Benitez said.

„It will be a difficult competition, the only one we can win now, so we will try to do our best from the beginning.

„We have to progress, we have to win the first round and go forward because we might have Juventus, Valencia or Atletico Madrid.

„Any club in the Europa League which reaches the semi-final will be good enough to be in the Champions League too.

„To win a European competition against top sides is important and if you cannot be in the Champions League you have to do your best here and try to bring something for the fans.

Liverpool last won this competition, in its former guise of the Uefa Cup, against Alaves in 2001.

Of the players who featured in that final, only captain Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher remain.

Benitez, who also won the Uefa Cup with Valencia, believes all the players have to draw on what European knowledge they have to ensure a good run in the competition.

„We know what it means to win the UEFA Cup, Carra and Gerrard have this experience and I was at Valencia so I know,” he added.

„The players have experience in the Champions League and although the names of the clubs now are not familiar, when you play quarter-finals and semi-finals you will see big names.

Last season’s Romanian champions Unirea actually finished their maiden Champions League campaign with a better points tally than Liverpool and enjoyed victories away to Rangers and at home to Sevilla.

Liverpool and Everton are both improving and Paul Merson can’t separate them on derby day.

Ian Snodin told Sky Sports News that Everton needn’t fear going to Anfield on Saturday.

Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Wolves in 2004. Can you name the mystery starting XI?

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez does not believe the Europa League can be viewed as a poor relation of the UEFA Champions League.

Joleon Lescott has cranked up the tension ahead of Sunday¿s crucial clash with top four rivals Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard has dismissed suggestions that Liverpool will not be 100% committed in the Europa League.

Emiliano Insua is determined to bring silverware to Anfield in the form of the Europa League trophy.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has ridiculed the Premier League’s proposed UEFA Champions League play-off system.

Read the article on Sky Sports

Rafa ready for Europa test

Any club in the Europa League which reaches the semi-final will be good enough to be in the Champions League too.

Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez does not believe the Europa League can be viewed as a poor relation of the UEFA Champions League.

The Reds boss saw his side lose their place at European football’s top table during a dismal group stage campaign and is now preparing for the last-32 meeting with Unirea Urziceni.

With the Anfield outfit well off the pace in the Premier League, out of the FA Cup and Carling Cup, the Europa League is Benitez’s only remaining opportunity for silverware this season.

And the Spaniard has pledged to do everything to claim victory in a competition which features fellow Champions League drop-outs Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Marseille, Wolfsburg and Thursday night’s opponents.

They supplemented a competition which already boasted clubs such as Valencia, Villarreal, Hamburg and Sporting Lisbon – not to mention Premier League sides Fulham and Everton.

„To be fair, if you analyse the teams that are in the competition there are some very strong teams,” Benitez said.

„It will be a difficult competition, the only one we can win now, so we will try to do our best from the beginning.

„We have to progress, we have to win the first round and go forward because we might have Juventus, Valencia or Atletico Madrid.

„Any club in the Europa League which reaches the semi-final will be good enough to be in the Champions League too.

„To win a European competition against top sides is important and if you cannot be in the Champions League you have to do your best here and try to bring something for the fans.

Liverpool last won this competition, in its former guise of the Uefa Cup, against Alaves in 2001.

Of the players who featured in that final, only captain Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher remain.

Benitez, who also won the Uefa Cup with Valencia, believes all the players have to draw on what European knowledge they have to ensure a good run in the competition.

„We know what it means to win the UEFA Cup, Carra and Gerrard have this experience and I was at Valencia so I know,” he added.

„The players have experience in the Champions League and although the names of the clubs now are not familiar, when you play quarter-finals and semi-finals you will see big names.

Last season’s Romanian champions Unirea actually finished their maiden Champions League campaign with a better points tally than Liverpool and enjoyed victories away to Rangers and at home to Sevilla.

Liverpool and Everton are both improving and Paul Merson can’t separate them on derby day.

Ian Snodin told Sky Sports News that Everton needn’t fear going to Anfield on Saturday.

Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Wolves in 2004. Can you name the mystery starting XI?

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez does not believe the Europa League can be viewed as a poor relation of the UEFA Champions League.

Joleon Lescott has cranked up the tension ahead of Sunday¿s crucial clash with top four rivals Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard has dismissed suggestions that Liverpool will not be 100% committed in the Europa League.

Emiliano Insua is determined to bring silverware to Anfield in the form of the Europa League trophy.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has ridiculed the Premier League’s proposed UEFA Champions League play-off system.

Read the article on Sky Sports

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