For the first time in four seasons, the UEFA Youth League did not have an U19 Reds team.
Liverpool was back in the Champions League on Wednesday – but something was still missing before Jurgen Klopp’s team left the tournament in the Johan Cruijff ArenA.
Liverpool were back in the Champions League on Wednesday evening – but something was missing before they left the tournament.
Instead, from March next year, all 64 qualified clubs will compete against each other in a direct knockout competition, with the goal of a draw to decide who gets ahead.
However, the continuing effects of the coronavirus pandemic have forced UEFA to fundamentally change the competition.
The format of the tournament usually means that the matches in the group phase are similar to those in the Champions League, with the group winner advancing directly to the round of sixteen, while the eight runners-up compete in a play-off against qualifying matches from a separate qualifying process against 32 local youth league champions.
The UEFA Youth League has been a testing ground for a number of young players from Liverpool.
The semi-finals and final will be played in May at the Colovray Stadium in Nyon, Switzerland.
Rhian Brewster, who could face his former club on Saturday with Sheffield United, was a key player when the Reds reached the quarter-finals in 2018 before losing to Manchester City on penalties.
Curtis Jones and Rhys Williams, who both made their Champions League debut against Ajax, have several years’ experience in the competition, as do Neco Williams, Jake Cain and Vitezslav Jaros, who all sat on the bench in Amsterdam.
Liverpool were again eliminated on penalties the following season, losing in the round of 16 to Dinamo Zagreb and last season they were beaten 4-1 at the same stage by Benfica, a match in which Harvey Elliott, currently on loan to Blackburn Rovers, was seen.