Liverpool are back in European action this week, albeit not in their preferred competition, and Jurgen Klopp will be looking to get off to a flying start against LASK on Thursday night.
Reds supporters will no doubt be feeling a sense of frustration when the Champions League kicks off this week, with Liverpool missing out on the competition for the first time since 2016.
However, considering how disastrous the 2022/23 campaign was for the Reds, qualifying for Europa League football is at least a silver lining, and it gives Klopp the chance to compete for a trophy he is yet to win.
While there is expected to be a solid amount of squad rotation in the early stages of the Europa League, one thing is certain: Liverpool are in it to book themselves a flight to Dublin come May.
The first step to the final begins on Thursday night against LASK, and here is everything you need to know about the game.
LASK is one of few European teams that Liverpool have actually never faced in their long history, which will certainly add an element of intrigue to the contest on Thursday evening.
The Austrian club have enjoyed spells in Europe in recent years though, going as far as to reach the Europa League round of 16 in the 2019/20 season.
The side, managed by Thomas Sager, came third in their league last season and will be pushing to make it out of the Europa League group stages once again, so Liverpool should expect a strong contest.
For UK viewers, the game will be shown as the early kick-off on TNT Sports (formerly BT Sports).
In the US, the game will be available on Paramount+.
WHO WILL REFEREE THE CLASH
The referee for Liverpool’s first Europa League clash is yet to be confirmed.
© ProShots – Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool will be able to utilise their captain Virgil van Dijk for the first time since facing Newcastle on 27 August. Not only is the Dutchman’s extended ban now complete, but it wouldn’t have impacted his ability to start in a European competition anyway.
Despite the early stages of the competition being a good chance for rotation, Van Dijk has a good chance of starting the fixture due to Liverpool’s defensive availability issues.
Ibrahima Konate was on the bench against Wolves and impressed in his brief cameo towards the end of the game. However, with the Frenchman’s injury record, Klopp may err on the side of caution and continue a gradual return to action.
Van Dijk’s inclusion is even more likely when considering that Joe Gomez will almost definitely be starting at right-back again to cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold who still remains on the sidelines while he recovers from the hamstring injury he sustained against Aston Villa.
With Conor Bradley’s longer-term injury, Gomez is by far the most equipped to cover Alexander-Arnold in the short-term.
In. the midfield, Thiago Alcantara is still not ready to play for Liverpool, despite being said to be close to a first-team return for months now.
While it is likely that his fellow Spaniard, Stefan Bajcetic will see at least some minutes against LASK, after recovering from his injury, appearing on several Liverpool benches, and playing for Spain’s Under-21s.
Ryan Gravenberch made his Liverpool debut against Wolves at the weekend, albeit very briefly, and it would be a safe bet to assume Liverpool’s newest midfielder will be given significantly longer to showcase his ability to fans on Thursday evening.
LASK TEAM NEWS
Ahead of Saturday’s game, there doesn’t seem to be any fresh injury concerns from a LASK perspective, with Sageder’s squad fit and ready to welcome Liverpool to the Raiffeisen Arena in the first clash of Group E in the Europa League.
Fans may be expecting a heavily rotated side in the early stages of the Europa League, but Klopp will be eager to get off to a good start in the competition.
(4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Kostas Tsimikas; Stefan Bajcetic, Ryan Gravenberch, Harvey Elliott; Ben Doak, Darwin Nuñez, Luis Diaz
Liverpool may have a habit as of late of conceding the first goal, even against weaker opposition. However, the Reds should have more than enough defensive nous to keep a clean sheet in their Europa League opener, and an abundance of attacking firepower to put LASK to the sword.
LASK 0-4 Liverpool