Benitez relishes Europa League challenge

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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes the quality of the Europa League has been underestimated this season.

Liverpool dropped into UEFA's second-tier competition from the Champions League, along with the likes of Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Marseille, Wolfsburg and Thursday night's opponents Unirea Urziceni. And although the Europa League is not where Liverpool expected to be, Benitez believes it will be a difficult trophy to win.

"To be fair, if you analyse the teams that are in the competition there are some very strong teams," he said.

"It will be a difficult competition, the only one we can win now, so we will try to do our best from the beginning.

"We have to progress, we have to win the first round and go forward because we might have Juventus, Valencia or Atletico Madrid.

"Any club in the Europa League which reaches the semi-final will be good enough to be in the Champions League too.

"To win a European competition against top sides is important and if you cannot be in the Champions League you have to do your best here and try to bring something for the fans.

"The response of the players to being knocked out of the Champions League was fantastic and we have to keep doing the same."

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