The Europa League isn’t a tournament that I have time for, unless, of course, we make the final! Liverpool are obviously preparing to take on Toulouse in that competition tomorrow night, but let’s be honest, the real action and excitement is in the Champions League.
Last night I opted to watch AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain in Group F of the Champions League. It was a cracking match that ended 2-1 in favour of Milan thanks to a spectacular Rafael Leao bicycle kick and an Olivier Giroud header.
I had loaded up one of my football betting apps ahead of the game for a small flutter, my first in a while, and as many of you know, I always have a bet on there being more than 2 goals in whatever game I’m watching when I’m a neutral, purely because that means both teams are playing for me! I admit I also had backed he who shall not be named to score at any time during the match but he let me down. I never have a bet on any games involving Liverpool because you then tend to bet with your heart rather than your head and 9 times out of 10, when I back the Reds, I lose. Yes, it’s my fault that we have that surprise ‘shock defeat’ from time to time!
A couple of pals of mine who support Newcastle were in Germany to watch them get turned over by Borussia Dortmund while others I knew had headed off to Madrid to watch their team Celtic get battered. Admittedly, I’m sure they all returned with little love for the Champions League, but they were still buzzing ahead of their trips and they soaked up the atmospheres before and during their sides were in action. You could argue that memories can be made in the Europa League too, but it’s just not the same unless you make the finals and I’m sure most Reds will agree with me.
Former Liverpool boss Roy Evans once said: “Liverpool without European football is like a banquet without wine” and he was right. I mean, yes, we do have European football this season, but for me, Liverpool must be in the Champions League. That’s where it’s at.
What makes me chuckle is how West Ham refer to themselves as European champions after winning the UEFA Europa Conference League (which will be renamed as the UEFA Conference League from the 2024/25 season). This is European club football’s third-tier competition which was launched in 2021, but it hasn’t stopped the Hammers from trying to claim some recognition. Understandable for them I guess, especially when trying to flog some official club merchandise. I’m sure their fans appreciate the success and maybe it makes me sound a bit snobby, but we are Liverpool Football Club.
I will be cheering the Reds on tomorrow night regardless, but I really do hope that we return to the top table of European football next season which a club of our standing should be involved with every year.
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