Liverpool’s win over Bordeaux was much needed for more than just qualification from Group B, with victory set to help the Reds in more ways than one over the coming weeks.
Regardless of how it happened, Thursday night’s decisive Europa League clash against Bordeaux was all about sealing qualification.
The Reds completed the task of reaching the round of 32 stage with victory over the French outfit, thanks to goals from James Milner and Christian Benteke.
It was essential advancement was sealed for more than just progression to the next phase.
Arriving in the knockout rounds with a hard-fought victory coming from behind, and qualifying with a game to spare, will provide yet another confidence boost to Klopp’s developing squad.
But most vitally, the success also allows for Klopp’s Reds to turn their full attention to picking up a positive run of results and points from a crucial upcoming period in the Premier League.
Up next for Liverpool is a host of winnable league games which could see the elevation of the domestic campaign; the trip to Southampton for the League Cup quarter-final now presents something more appealing than just an unwelcome distraction, too.
And this is because, by claiming victory at Anfield, the final group game against Sion can now be treated as a game to fulfil and nothing more, with no pressure of needing a result.
It’s a fixture Klopp can brush over with nothing riding on the game for Liverpool, and that he must do when his side head to Switzerland for the clash on December 10th.
Sending a makeshift team to face the Swiss side – who secured a 1-1 draw at Anfield in the reverse fixture – resting key men and those who would benefit from a night off, is something Klopp simply must carry out now he has the luxury available.
That win gives Liverpool crucial leeway when negotiating a busy festive schedule. Play the kids vs. Sion and focus on stabilising form. #LFC
— Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) November 26, 2015
The 48-year-old can use the visit to afford match minutes and practice to fringe members of the squad, to keep them fresh and ready for action over the period should they be needed.
There should also be more competitive first-team action handed to youngsters Jordan Rossiter, Pedro Chirivella, Cameron Brannagan and Connor Randall.
Absolutely vitally, Klopp now has the chance to afford key personnel a relatively relaxed and rare week to recharge batteries for the hectic, but more manageable, run of matches over the Christmas schedule.
This can all be afforded thanks to Thursday’s success.
Wanting three points in Switzerland to ensure a top-of-the-group finish for a potentially easier draw could be a case made.
But the Reds will face tricky opposition regardless, with the seeding’s of the draw – courtesy of UEFA.com – potentially matching Liverpool with a Champions League dropout whether a first- or second-place position is secured:
There will be two pots for the round of 32 draw: the 12 group winners and the four best third-ranked teams in the UEFA Champions League group stage are seeded.
They will be drawn against the 12 group runners-up and the remaining third-placed UEFA Champions League sides.
Worrying about who the Reds may face could also lead to complacency – it might be a cliche, but there are genuinely no easy games on the European stage, as we have seen.
League matches against Newcastle and West Brom either side of travelling to Sion are of far more importance following advancement at the first attempt, and must be treated as such.
Picking up a healthy points total from those winnable fixtures – as well as from visits to Watford and Sunderland, and at home to Leicester – could see the Reds land themselves right in the mix for the Champions League places come the turn of the year.
It’s achievable for Klopp – who now has only one midweek distraction to contend with the trip to Southampton – and a positive sequence must start by negotiating a third consecutive win against struggling Swansea on Sunday.
The Reds have the chance to embark on a strong domestic run, with the Bordeaux victory easing the burden of any added European pressure.
Being able to go all-out in the Premier League, with little outside concern from this point on, has come from picking up a victory of paramount importance.
Klopp must now focus solely on the league matches ahead – for that is what the vital Bordeaux win has allowed.
Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux
- Match Report: Milner and Benteke send Reds into Europa League last 32
- Player Ratings: Mignolet 5, Allen 7, Benteke 6.5
- Talking Points: Simon’s shambles & job done as progress secured
- Player Focus: Christian Benteke showing how Liverpool can get best of him…and his limitations
- View From the Kop: Anfield resurgent as Liverpool secure Europa progress
- Fan Reactions: “Job done, winning habit”
- Paper Talk: “Far from the intense, dazzling destruction of Man City”
- Video: Jurgen Klopp’s Post Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux Press Conference
- Photos: Best of the action from Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux