Europa League preview: Liverpool, Dortmund clash for spot in semifinal

Liverpool’s best shot at earning a spot in next year’s Champions League is on the line today as it welcomes Borussia Dortmund to Anfield for the second leg of their Europa League quarterfinal tie (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1).

The tie is level at 1-1, but thanks to Divock Origi’s tally last week, the hosts have a slight edge on away goals.

A 0-0 draw would see Liverpool through to the semifinal — keeping its dream of winning the Europa League, and a spot in next year’s Champions League, alive. But former Dortmund and current Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp isn’t thinking about the match that way.

“I don’t think we went to the limit of our performance last week and I don’t think Dortmund did either, but they are having a great season,” Klopp told reporters Wednesday. “Against Dortmund you can’t just defend, there is a balance between attack and defense.

“Forget about last week’s game, we have to go into tomorrow’s game with a different attitude and we certainly won’t be flying a white flag.”

It will be interesting to see if that Origi goal earns him a start over Daniel Sturridge. As for Dortmund, we could see Ikay Gundogan back in the midfield for what should be a tight, entertaining match.

Dortmund must score, and manager Thomas Tuchel is approaching things that way.

“We know what we have to achieve: to score,” he said Wednesday. “We are here to attack and here to take risks. We don’t want to score one, we want two or even more. We want to see what is possible in terms of our potential. We do not want to feel our boundaries. This is the pressure and I love it.”

We’ll see if he still feels that way later this evening.

There are three other quarterfinal matches today as well:

Sevilla vs. Athletic Bilbao (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 2) — The two-time defending Europa League champions are in the driver’s seat in this Spanish derby, having scored two road goals in a 2-1 triumph last time out.

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Braga — The Ukrainians also hold a 2-1 lead with a pair of road goals in their match up with the Portuguese side.

Sparta Prague vs. Villarreal — Sparta Prague returns home on the wrong end of a 2-1 tally in aggregate, but did manage to pick up a road goal in its trip to Spain last week.

About Randy Capps

South Carolina native, Fulham apologist, writer and sports fanatic.