Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp and captain Virgil van Dijk have been speaking ahead of the Reds clash with Austrian side LASK in the group stage of the Europa League.
Klopp and van Dijk have both promised that Liverpool will take the Europa League seriously this season despite their disappointment at not playing in the Champions League, insisting that nothing can be taken for granted.
Liverpool boss Klopp refused to disclose any details on who would be in his line-up for the game with LASK in Austria, but the fact that Van Dijk was alongside him in the press conference would suggest the Reds captain will be in the line-up.
Both Van Dijk and Klopp were keen to stress how seriously they were taking the game as the Europa League kicks off on Thursday, reiterating just how important the European competition is viewed as being.
Liverpool hay not been outside of the Champions League since Klopp’s first season in charge and is the overwhelming favorite as things stand to win the trophy at the end of the campaign.
“We are not arrogant,” Klopp explained in his press conference. “We want to compete and win here. LASK is very stable, has a clear idea of how to play football, uses the wings very well, and good set-pieces. We have to be prepared.
“We are here to compete, not to give opportunities. Absolutely no info [for you] about the team news.”
“We wanted to be in the Champions League but we didn’t deserve it; we deserved the Europa League,” Van Dijk stated. “We want to win it but that doesn’t happen overnight.
“We are working hard every day, from the first day of pre-season. We have new players coming in and young players coming through. I see a lot of potential and the results have been there. Each game is going to be a tough one. But it is definitely an exciting time.”
Van Dijk was also asked about Jarell Quansah, to which he responded:
“The time he played [vs Wolves], he was outstanding. It was great to see and I was very proud. He should see it just as the start but he is at a great team, so keep going and hopefully he will be very important now and in the future.”
The Europa League is not the competition that Liverpool wanted to be in, but it is the competition the club found itself. It might as well have a good go at winning the thing.
It appears that Van Dijk, given he was put up for media duties, will be involved from the start, which might make sense given that he has missed a couple of matches in the Premier League because of his suspension.
But it will be interesting to see exactly how strong the rest of the Liverpool line-up is. There should be space for a number of changes given the opposition is beatable.