Carragher: Liverpool should be happy with Europa League

Defender talks down pressure but Benitez refuses to give up as Reds play for Champions League survival

Jamie Carragher prepared Liverpool for the likelihood of elimination from the Champions League last night by insisting it would not be "a disaster" and declaring that the Europa League would still present them with the chance of winning silverware against a strong field.

Carragher has always ranked the Uefa Cup triumph, which was part of Liverpool's 2000-01 treble, as an even greater achievement than the side's Lazarus-style recovery in the Champions League final against Milan in Istanbul four years later. Though the prospects of progress in the elite tournament are not entirely dead ahead of tonight's encounter with Debrecen, he insisted that the side must "accept it and move on" if they are eliminated at the group stage for the first time in manager Rafael Benitez's five-year tenure.

"I think because we have done well in recent seasons other people outside the club tend to take it a little bit for granted that Liverpool will get into the knockout stages," Carragher said. "But it isn't easy. Manchester United didn't make it through a few years ago and Barcelona have had a couple of setbacks this season and they aren't sure of making it. It shows how well we have done in the past."

Elimination would represent a blow for Liverpool in their critical pursuit of new equity partners. Their destiny lies 456 miles away in Florence tonight, where Fiorentina will progress along with Lyons from Group E if they defeat the French side. But providing Liverpool defeat the Hungarian champions, who have conceded more goals than any other side in the tournament and are yet to record a point, a draw in Florence would mean Liverpool needing to beat Fiorentina 3-0 at Anfield. If Lyons win, any victory for Liverpool in the final game would see Benitez accomplish another piece of Champions League escapology.

Carragher is preparing mentally for the worst, though. "Stevie [Gerrard] and myself won what was the Uefa Cup back [in 2001] and it was a great moment," he said. "It is still a chance to win silverware and there are some great teams in that competition. Benfica looked really strong against Everton and Valencia are in it too. Obviously, we are all still hoping we are in the Champions League come Tuesday night. Whatever happens, you have to move on and look forward."

Benitez may well have Daniel Agger returned to central defence. The Dane trained with a headband around a wound which had required five stitches on Saturday. Glen Johnson should also start though Yossi Benayoun, a recipient of human – not horse – placenta in his attempts to recover from a hamstring injury, said he was not fit to play a full game. "I can't see myself playing the full 90 minutes. I don't believe that is a realistic aim after missing so much training," he said. Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel did not travel.

Despite suffering cramps and looking less than fit against Manchester City on Saturday, Gerrard is also fit for a game Liverpool will surely win. "He was tired the other day; it was a difficult game to play 90 minutes of," Benitez said.

Benitez is in a tighter spot than ever before. Liverpool had the same four-point tally from four games two years ago and advanced at Marseilles' expense by winning in southern France. But they trailed Marseilles by three points after four games, while Fiorentina are five points clear of them.

Tonight, they will need to make history again, not least by winning a match on Hungarian soil for the first time. The last man to find the net for them in this country was Emlyn Hughes, in a 1-1 draw at Ferencvaros, 39 years ago.

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea