Tuesday 25 October 2016

Pool can break Spanish grip

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Daniel Sturridge after victory over Villareal in the Europe League semi-final. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Daniel Sturridge after victory over Villareal in the Europe League semi-final. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire

Ian Rush believes the momentum Liverpool have built up in the Europa League could finally loosen Sevilla's grip on the trophy.

Liverpool booked their place in the final by beating Villarreal at Anfield on Thursday night and now face Spanish holders Sevilla in Basel on May 18.

Sevilla's pedigree in the Europa League is unrivalled in recent years after winning the competition twice in the last two seasons and four times in all over the last decade.

But Rush feels victories over Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal have given Jurgen Klopp's side the belief that they can go on and claim both the trophy and the Champions League place on offer.

"Nothing ceases to amaze me at Anfield. It's not a one-off," said Rush, Liverpool's record goalscorer with 346 in two spells at Anfield between 1980 and 1996.

"The support was absolutely amazing, as it was against United and Dortmund.

"The thing is Villarreal were expecting it, but it still happened. It gave the players an extra energy to play for the supporters. And now they're in the final there's no reason they can't go on and win it."

Sevilla reached their third successive final by beating Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 on Thursday for a 5-3 aggregate win. The Spaniards will start as favourites to complete a hat-trick of titles in Switzerland, but Rush insists that will count for nothing on the night.

"It will be an amazing feat for Sevilla to win it for a third time in a row," said Rush.


"But Dortmund were the favourites to win the competition when Liverpool beat them.

"Liverpool have shown what they can do and Europe is made for them.

"The Europa League has come as a bonus and getting a place in the Champions League would help them attract players next season."

Rush says Klopp deserves huge credit for creating a buzz on Merseyside, but he feels the German manager's influence will be even greater next season.

"Jurgen Klopp has made people believe in him and he's given people belief," said Rush.

"But next year is going to be the big year when he's got his own players in and he's put all the hard work in during pre-season.

"The fans love him because of what he does on the sideline as he's doing it out of passion.

"He's not doing it for the sake of it, he's doing it because he believes in it.

"When you talk to him it's exactly the same, you can feel something there that you would want to go out and play for him."

Captain Jordan Henderson and striker Divock Origi have a small chance of making the squad for the final, Klopp has said.

Henderson has not featured for Liverpool since he damaged knee ligaments in a Europa League tie against Borussia Dortmund in April, while Origi hurt his ankle in last month's Merseyside derby win over Everton.

Klopp is likely to make significant changes for the visit of Watford tomorrow.

It means probable starts for the likes of goalkeeper Danny Ward, centre-back Martin Skrtel, midfielders Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva and possibly striker Christian Benteke.

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