Europa League is Liverpool's best chance of Champions League football next season, admits Klopp

Jürgen Klopp has admitted that the Europa League presents Liverpool with their best chance of reaching next season's Champions League prior to their last 32 first-leg tie with FC Augsburg in Bavaria on Thursday night.

Europa League is Liverpool's best chance of Champions League football next season, admits Klopp
(Picture: Getty Images)

The added prize of Champions League qualification is acting as an added incentive for Liverpool to go all out in the UEFA Europa League, according to Jürgen Klopp.

The German's side take on FC Augsburg in the first-leg of their last 32 tie with the Bundesliga club this evening, looking to gain an advantage for the Anfield return leg and put one foot into the next round of the competition.

With the Reds' hopes of a top-four finish diminishing weekly, nine points separating them and the final Champions League spot in the table, the opportunity to add more trophies to the club's collection and qualify for the top-tier via the Europa League is a more realistic ambition for Klopp and his team, the German has acknowledged.

But he believes that they are amongst the most serious of contenders to be there in Basel for the final at St. Jakob-Park in May.

Boss insists Liverpool can realistically aim for continental success this term

Klopp takes Liverpool's first-team training at the WWK Arena on Wednesday. (Picture: Getty Images)
Klopp takes Liverpool's first-team training at the WWK Arena on Wednesday. (Picture: Getty Images)

"We are in the last 32 and we can see the line," insisted the boss, who admitted that "at this moment" they have "a better chance this way" of reaching the Champions League becaue of the nine-point gap.

He suggested that the clubs occupying the top-four positions could "have a crisis" but said they must "solve our own problems" and therefore have to be "at the highest motivation for the game."

Klopp insisted that "for sure" the Europa League isn't "the shortest way" to reach the Champions League, calling it "a really hard way and not the normal road" to take but said the "chance to qualify" makes the tournament "more interesting."

"Ask Sevilla, who would have qualified many times if the rule was in place [earlier]," added the manager, who said that only "a few teams in the world" can think about winning the Europa League and Liverpool "are one of these teams."

The Reds boss has plenty of confidence that his team can go all the way, saying that they "don't have to say 'we have no chance'." He explained that the teams in the competition currently make it seem "like a little Champions League" because there are "a lot of high-quality teams" in it.

He said that they could look at "winning a cup as the shortest way to get somehwere" as he declared that there are "a few teams when the competition that think they can win it" and Liverpool "are one of these teams."

Previous European experiences do not impact this season, insists Klopp

Klopp taking training with his Liverpool players at Augsburg's stadium. (Picture: Getty Images)
Klopp taking training with his Liverpool players at Augsburg's stadium. (Picture: Getty Images)

Klopp has previous experience of a major European final, after his Borussia Dortmund side fell 2-1 to domestic rivals Bayern Munich in the 2012-13 Champions League finale at Wembley Stadium.

However, Klopp believes that he is just as keen to experience similar heights in Europe with his new club on Merseyside.

He explained that to win games and "especially finals" then "a little bit of luck" is a prerequisite and said that's how "Liverpool won their Champions League final [in 2005", not due "to the brilliance" but "the fight which was great."

"We had nil luck in the final [vs Bayern]," said the manager, who said the best thing his Dortmund side could do "was get to this final." 

The boss vowed that you "should not personalise a victory, in that case for the club to reach the final, or minimise it" just because they lost "in a great game in the biggest final you can get to."

Klopp said that they were "the better team for half-an-hour" and insisted that they "took a lot from that game" which was "only one piece of the information."

"I don't need it if I come here and you say 'he's a Champions League winner'. It makes no difference to me," continued the manager, who said that he and the team "tried everything to win that game" but that "life goes on" even though they didn't, and that's what Klopp says "as a survivor of that."