With hope of a top four finish pretty much out the window, Liverpool's strong showing in the Europa League has been a shining light on the season. On Thursday, the Reds face their toughest European challenge yet when they face manager Jürgen Klopp's former team and Europa League favorites Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the quarterfinals.
Captain Jordan Henderson understands the significance of this game better than anyone, but he insists that the team is ready for it. Talking on Tuesday, he said:
"It’s a very big game against a very good team. I’ve seen them play a couple of times and they’ve been very decent. A few of the lads when we were away with England were saying how good they are. It will be tough but with the players we’ve got here I believe we can go there and get a good result. They have some top players but I wouldn’t say it was a bad draw. If you want to win the competition, you have to beat the best teams that are in it."
"If we’re serious about winning the Europa League, it was always likely we would face Dortmund at some stage. These are the games you have to really relish as players. They will be two great games and we’re really looking forward to it. We played well against Tottenham at the weekend and I think we’re ready for it."
Dortmund are in the midst of a sixteen game unbeaten streak in a competitions, and they handily took out Spurs 5-1 over two legs in the round of 16. Liverpool, though, have yet to lose in Europe this season, and while their earlier endeavors were a string of disappointing draws during the group stages, they dominated rivals Manchester United in the last round. The best result would obviously be a win, but a good result would be scoring a crucial away goal to take with them back to Anfield next week.
"It might be different for the boss going back to his old club but for us as players we just need to go there and concentrate on the game and what we need to do. It will be a great occasion for everyone over there and it will be an even better one if we can get a good result there. We’ve got the second leg at home and we all know what Anfield is like on European nights.
"It’s down to us to go over there and put in a very good performance to get a decent result to bring back to Anfield. In that second leg, anything could happen."
Anfield has been the scene of many a Liverpool European miracle, and if they could secure a trip to the semi-finals in front of the Kop, that would indeed be something special.