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Europa League football was Liverpool's worst nightmare - but a silver lining is just 135 miles away

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It was only 12 months ago that Europa League football seemed unthinkable for Liverpool Football Club. Preparing for their third European Cup final in the space of five seasons, were back in their natural habitat of the Champions League and looked unlikely to be leaving it any time soon. They may have lost against Real Madrid in Paris but with the arrival of a striker who'd scored six times in that season's Champions League and netted 34 goals overall for Benfica, Liverpool's place among Europe's elite looked secure.

But, as the old saying goes, a year is a long time in football and 12 months on the Reds are gearing up for a season in European football's second tier competition after Manchester United's win over Chelsea on Thursday night saw fifth place confirmed before Liverpool's final day trip to Southampton.

For some, a season without European football entirely is preferable to playing Thursday-Sunday in the Europa League pattern.

But with between £25m-30m on offer for the winner of the Europa League, not an insignificant chunk of money.

And what Europa League football does for Liverpool immediately is guarantee some more European adventures to a fanbase that adores and embraces them like no other.
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