By Andrew Robinson | Europa League
The result means Rodgers’ men travel to Italy knowing they need to equal the result of the Swiss side, who play host to Russian big spenders Anzhi Makhachkala in Bern.
The former Swansea gaffer says his improving Reds side are ready to take the next step into the knock-out rounds, with a win the only way to guarantee qualification against an already-eliminated Udinese side.
Despite recent Europa League results, the Italians will be confident as they picked up their only win of the campaign so far in Liverpool, claiming a 3-2 victory.
Fit-again midfielder Lucas Leiva and Daniel Agger will both be rested and Steven Gerrard hasn’t made the trip due to illness, but Luis Suarez has, showing how much Liverpool want to make it to the next stage.
With the Uruguayan hitman in the squad, Liverpool are 19/20 favourites to pull off a win. The draw may not be enough for Rodgers, but it is on offer at 13/5, while Udinese are 11/4 with Paddy Power to break Anfield hearts.
It’s time for Downing to shine. Yes, really
Rodgers is understandably under some pressure heading into the game and wants to continue the club’s legacy in European competition. Doing so could set up a mouth-watering tie with one of the sides entering the competition from the Champions League.
“This is a club that over the years has had a terrific association with European football,” Rodgers said. “It is important for us in our present and future that we can have as much involvement into the latter stages of these competitions as much as we can because this is what this great history is all about.”
His squad are also desperate to continue in the competition, with winger-come-left-back Stewart Downing keen to keep the playing time the Europa League has given him. “I’ve had a couple of good goals and some good performances. It’s obviously nice to play – that’s where most of my appearances have been this season,” he said.
If Liverpool do crash out, the former England man could be resigned to a season in the reserves, but if you think he can pull a goal out of the bag tonight, he’s on offer at 12/1 to grab the first of the game.