clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Are Liverpool Favourites to Beat Manchester United in the Europa League?

Steve McManaman -- a former Liverpool star -- thinks Jürgen Klopp's team has the edge against Manchester United in this week's Europa League first leg.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Thursday's Europa League last-16 first-leg tie against Manchester United could be the biggest of the season so far. The two fierce rivals have never met in European competition before, making this game quite the occasion between England's two most successful sides.

Liverpool have the edge in terms of European trophies with over double the amount of silverware compared with their opponents. Furthermore, securing a quarter-final place with both clubs struggling to keep up with the top four in the Premier League will almost surely end any prospect of Champions League football next season for Louis van Gaal's expensively-assembled squad.

It's going to be a tough task for either side to reach the final, let alone win the Europa League, and by doing so, secure Champions League qualification. There is, however, a bit of a problem. Manchester United have won their last four meetings against Liverpool, underling how dangerous this game can be home or away. Whatever struggles Manchester United have in terms of style or results appear to dissipate against Liverpool.

It's comforting that the angry factor has been in play since losing the League Cup final on penalties, starting with a successful revenge mission against Manchester City. Klopp's side then proceeded to break Crystal Palace's winning run against them on Sunday, but can the players repeat the trick? Steve McManaman -- BT Sport pundit and former Liverpool star -- seems to think so.

"I think Liverpool will be favourites. They'll be happy they don't have to travel," McManaman said. "With all due respect to United if they're without Wayne Rooney and they have to put the kind of team out they've been putting out recently Liverpool would love to play that type of team.

"But they'll have to improve if they want to win it. Liverpool's performances in the Europa League have not been good enough. Sion, Bordeaux and Augsburg - they've beaten no-one in reality. They've gone through so you can't knock them but other teams have had to play better opposition to get this far.

"If Liverpool are going to win the Europa League they have to play a whole lot better than they have done. They are going to face much better opposition."

Both sides will put out their strongest line-ups with no FA Cup or domestic league action to contend with this weekend given that this competition represents the best chance for Champions League football in 2016/17. Simply put, this isn't the sort of game a manager can afford to underestimate. Whether Liverpool are favourites or not is open to question, but Louis van Gaal's 100% record against Liverpool has to end. Thursday should be a fantastic and potentially season-defining spectacle.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Liverpool Offside Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Liverpool FC news from Liverpool Offside