Andy Hunter on 20 February 2018
Steven Gerrard has said Liverpool’s Under-19s “are in the wrong place” if they need motivating to beat Manchester United when the fierce rivals meet in the Uefa Youth League on Wednesday.
Liverpool host Nicky Butt’s United in the last-16 tie at Prenton Park (kick-off 3pm GMT), with the winners of the one-off fixture meeting Manchester City or Internazionale in the quarter-finals. Bayern Munich against Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain against Barcelona are other standout ties in the round.
Gerrard’s squad, who will include the Wales international Ben Woodburn at Tranmere, topped their qualifying group while United progressed as runners-up behind Basel. And the former Liverpool captain believes there should be no greater incentive for his players to reach the last eight than a renewal of rivalries with United.
“In games like this you shouldn’t have to motivate your players,” said Liverpool’s coach, who is without the injured Rhian Brewster. “This is the last 16 of the youth Champions League with a chance to qualify at a big stadium, if we need to motivate players for this then we are in the wrong place.
“You’ve got to realise it’s Manchester United and there’s a lot at stake. It’s a 50-50 game and this is one that would be tough to get over if it doesn’t go your way, that’s just the way it is. It is one of those fixtures that is a little bit juicier and there’s a lot more riding on it because of the rivalry. You have to deal with that, take that responsibility and manage it.”