By Christopher Boulay
By the time Liverpool takes the field at Stade de Suisse Wankdorf to take on BSC Young Boys, it will have been approximately one year, six months, two days, 21 hours and 55 minutes since the club was knocked out of Europa League in the Round of 16 against Braga. It’s been that long of a wait for Liverpool supporters to see European competition again.
While the Europa League certainly isn’t where Liverpool supporters want the club to be, it likely is a refreshing change of pace. Also, it gives those who put so much time, energy and effort into the club a glimmer of hope that the club’s situation is heading down the correct path.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers may have his hands full for this group stage, as the club has not only Young Boys to deal with, but also Udinese and Anzhi Makhachkala. However, the tough competition could be a good barometer to see where the younger talent in the squad is currently at.
More specifically, this tournament may prove to be a way to help develop young talent quickly. Rodgers noted during a press conference that he will bring a less experienced squad. With a match against Manchester United in the back of the club’s collective mind, giving players such as Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling a rest could be a wise decision.
This new approach to the European competition could also give many players that haven’t gotten a chance because of form issues another opportunity to prove themselves. Jamie Carragher, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing may see some action, which could be a significant morale boost for these players.
Young Boys, from the Swiss capital of Bern, finished third in the Swiss Super League last season behind champions FC Basel and FC Luzern, which allowed them to enter Europa League qualification. The club currently sits in eighth place with only eight matches played. The most recognizable names from the club may be starting goalkeeper Marco Wolfi – who has been capped multiple times for the Swiss national team – as well as Canadian midfielder Josh Simpson. However, the former Millwall and Kaiserslautern man is nursing an injury, and hasn’t been on the pitch since May.
A win against the Swiss side will be what both Rodgers and supporters will aim for, as opening the group stage with a win could ensure a solid level of momentum needed for the large number of matches in the coming weeks. However, with a squad so inexperienced, it could be a difficult day for the Reds.
After four Premier League matches played and only two points to show for it, a spark from the youngsters could be what helps ensure the club gets back on course after such a slow start.
BSC Young Boys v Liverpool
When: Thursday, September 20, 1300 EST/1800 GMT
Where: Stade de Suisse Wanksdorf
How they qualified: BSCYB defeated FC Midtjylland 3-2 in the Play-off round, Liverpool defeated Heart of Midlothian 2-1 in the Play-off round.
Projected BSC Young Boys Starting 11
DEF: Gonzalez, Nef, Zverotic, Spycher
MID: Veskovac, Farnerud, Costanzo, Schneuwly
FW: Bobadilla, Lecjaks
Subs from: Benito, Sutter, Vitkieviez, Ojala, Sutter, Doubai, Raimondi, Silberbauer, Sessolo, Zarate, Frey
Projected Liverpool Starting 11
DEF: Enrique, Coates, Carragher, Flanagan
MID: Shelvey, Sahin, Henderson
FW: Assaidi, Yesil, Downing
Subs from: Gulasci, Wisdom, Robinson, Suso, Morgan, Sterling, Coady, Pacheco, Borini
Interact: What’s your projected lineup and final score prediction? Comment below.
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