Understanding all of the permutations as to how Premier League clubs will participate in European football next season is still considerably confusing.
For Liverpool, the simple breakdown is that a victory over Sevilla in the Europa League final on May 18th will confirm their qualification in the Champions League. A defeat to the defending champions of that competition will mean possible involvement in the Europa League again or no European football at all.
If Manchester United win the FA Cup, the seventh-place Premier League finisher will go into the hat for the Europa League qualification round. If the Red Devils lose, it will be the team to take sixth in the top-flight standings.
Heading into the last round of Premier League matches, Liverpool sit eighth. Although they could also catch West Ham in sixth, realistically Jurgen Klopp’s men need a better result at West Brom than Southampton gain at home to Palace to have a chance of reaching the top seven.
This is where the fine balancing act begins. Klopp has shown a prioritisation towards the Europa League in recent weeks, using a mix of youth, squad players and the odd regular starter to fulfil league obligations.
Success came of this strategy against Bournemouth and Watford, but the Reds were completely dominated in a 3-1 defeat to Swansea at the start of the month.
In an ideal world, Klopp would heavily rotate again, resting the majority of the players he plans to start against Sevilla. However, doing so and losing, could affect summer transfer targets, as well as European qualification.
Loris Karius is towards the top of the club’s goalkeeper shortlist, but he has aspirations of playing in the Europa League as a minimum next season. Current club Mainz have already secured this heading into the final day of the Bundesliga campaign.
Germany are blessed with a raft of talented goalkeepers under the age of 25 and even though Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Bernd Leno are the most globally known, Timo Horn and 22-year-old Karius are snapping at their heels.
A release clause of €10m makes Karius an even shrewder acquisition, especially based on this display against Borussia Monchengladbach earlier this season:
Liverpool are 19/10 to beat West Brom, which is a big price if Klopp goes with his strongest XI.
However, Sevilla will be able to rest players ahead of the Liverpool meeting with their Europa League participation next season already confirmed through their La Liga position. This may influence Klopp’s decision.
Getting the balance right will be tough, with transfers, alongside trophies, riding on the decisions made.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.