BASEL, May 18 ― Liverpool midfielder James Milner believes that winning the Europa League is important in its own right and not just because it offers a back door to the Champions League next season.
European football's governing body Uefa have tried to drum up interest in its much-maligned second string club competition by guaranteeing the winners a place in the following season's Champions League.
However, Liverpool, who risk missing the Champions League for the second season in a row if they do not beat Sevilla, insisted they were only looking to today's final against the Spaniards.
“Everyone wants to play in the Champions League but if you look back on a career with no trophies and six seasons in the Champions League, it's not the same,” Milner told a news conference.
“When you look back on your career, it's all about winning trophies and to win any European trophy is a massive achievement.”
“Some of the ties we have had this season would have looked at home in the Champions League,” he added.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp praised the strength of Spain's La Liga saying it was clearly the world's strongest league.
“It's the best football country I would say. They have a combination of good managers, scouting, good education of players.
“There are a lot of reasons, but at this moment La Liga is the highest level and it is the job for everybody else to reach this level and pass this.”
Sevilla have won the competition for the last two seasons and coach Unai Emery said Wednesday's match was a chance to earn a permanent place in the club's history.
“We always want to improve,” he said. “We have to grab each chance with all our strength and everyone is switched on to the idea that this is a chance to make history and write our names in Sevilla for ever.”
Sevilla have only won one away match in European competition this season and are expected to have the smaller contingent of fans today, though Emery was unperturbed.
“We will focus all our positive energy and virtues on the pitch and I have great confidence in these players. This Sevilla team will not let us down,” he said.
“We have to remember that we have the support of the people who haven't come with us. The fact that Liverpool could have more fans than us, for a number of reasons, doesn't affect us.
“Sevilla fans love this competition, it's their second wife.” ― Reuters