Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has talked up his side’s chances of doing well in the Champions League this season, as the Reds prepare to take on Ludogorets this evening.
Gerrard is one of the few Englishman playing to have tasted success in the tournament and he’s put his side under pressure, by suggesting that he expects the team to do extremely well this season.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Brendan and in the squad. Listen, I’ll put it another way. If we go out in the group stages, or the last 16, we will be majorly, majorly disappointed. We want to progress. We want to go as far as we can. This can’t be a one-off. This can’t be,” said Gerrard in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Liverpool are expected to battle against the defending champions Real Madrid for top spot in Group B although FC Basel showed against Chelsea last season, they are no pushovers.
It’s been a long time since Liverpool were in this position but Gerrard is right to have confidence in his boss, who improved the squad considerably over the summer.
The Reds lost a player in Luis Suarez who would have been influential in this competition, but the boss added well and has created a squad, which Gerrard believes is now capable of maintaining a place on the European stage.
“This isn’t a reward for finishing second last year. I don’t see it as a reward. This is where Liverpool should be — and should be consistently. It’s the responsibility of myself and the players to give it our best crack. It is important that we have got the Champions League next year as well.”
The challenge for Liverpool this season is going to come when the team faces up against side with more recent experience of the competition.
Experienced sides and coaches are also going to find ways to nullify their threats while exploiting their weaknesses, which will test the strength of Brendan Rodgers’ mentality differently to what he’s so far experienced at the club.
The Reds are also yet to experience the fatigue which can be created by the Champions League, with travelling after games but that’s when the squad comes into play.
Liverpool should be confident of progression and if they get a favourable last 16 draw then who knows what could happen.