Manchester United will be looking to win their fifth consecutive game against Liverpool under Louis Van Gaal when they take on the Reds at Anfield in their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 clash on Thursday.
Liverpool host rivals Manchester United at Anfield, with the two giants of English football aiming for Champions League qualification via the Europa League. The Red Devil’s 1-0 loss against West Bromwich Albion has put even more pressure on the team to win against Jurgen Klopp’s side, and to continue their fight to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition next season.
According to the club website, Louis van Gaal said in his pre-match press conference, “You have to win – there is no difference with it being a Cup competition. It’s historical and even bigger now because both teams are fighting for a Champions League place.”
Since the Dutchman took charge at Old Trafford, the club has won all four fixtures against Liverpool, including two at Anfield.
“It’s curious we have beaten Liverpool so many times under me, but it’s good for me as the appreciation is higher from the fans,” Van Gaal added.
Louis van Gaal dismisses claims that the two English giants — Liverpool and Manchester United — have fallen
In the press conference, Louis van Gaal was asked to comment on how England’s two most successful teams in the Champions League are now struggling to even qualify for the tournament.
He dismissed the question, claiming that the media in England give the Europa League unwarranted negative coverage. The Red Devils boss said, “I noticed that you have a negative view of the Europa League in England, but against teams like Midtjylland there were how many fans? 58,000.
“How many fans do you think we’ll have against Liverpool, I think maybe 75,000. I think also Liverpool is sold out, so that’s what I have to say, it’s very important for both teams and the fans are liking to see the duel between us.”
Antonio Valencia and Chris Smalling will be making a return to the first-team squad for the clash against Liverpool, while Bastian Schweinsteiger will not be featuring despite appearing in training earlier this week.
The importance of this competition at this point in time cannot be overstated, as Europa League glory looks like the only path to a Champions League spot next season. Manchester United and Liverpool lie 6th and 7th in the Premier League table at present, separated by just three points. Klopp’s men also have a game in hand, meaning they could potentially go level on points with their arch rivals.