Liverpool could be the Champions League surprise package
Liverpool kick-off their Champions League campaign tonight at home to Bulgarian side Ludogorets.
The Reds go into the campaign as outsiders, and yet expected to qualify from their group, Brendan Rodgers’ side will not be expected to mount a serious challenge to win the tournament.
Liverpool are eleventh favourites according to bookmaker William Hill, making them a good bet at 28/1.
They perhaps don’t have a dazzling first eleven like some of Europe’s other heavyweights have, and their squad may not be likewise, but they will have the spirit and the drive to do well with a roaring Anfield crowd behind them on the weeknights.
Liverpool have the quality though, veteran midfielder Steven Gerrard is delighted to return to the Champions League and will be hungrier than ever after telling BBC Sport he was almost “jealous” of the other English teams playing in the competition.
He added: “I’ve been craving it. Everyone is looking forward to hearing that music.
“Watching the likes of Chelsea and Man United in it when we were finishing outside the top four was tough. I’m just glad it’s finally here. It’s reward for all the hard work last season.
“We need to enjoy it but we’re not in it to make the numbers up. We want to do as well as we can.”
It is also a special occasion for Rodgers too, having never managed in the Champions League, the 41-year-old will be eager to impress on the European stage, especially after prioritising in getting Liverpool back in the Champions League in the last few seasons.
And Rodgers’ side have the added advantage of approaching the competition as outsiders, so they can approach the competition without fear. And though they will have pressure on tonight’s must win game against Ludogorets, they should have the quality to win comfortably.
Should the team qualify from the group stage, Europe’s elite will beckon, and Rodgers’ young and exciting side could flourish on the big stage after they impressed so heavily in the Premier League last season.
Liverpool last famously triumphed in the competition in Istanbul in 2005, but a win this season could be an ever bigger achievement.