Champions League: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers relishing challenge

Image: Brendan Rodgers: Excited by prospect of Liverpool's Champions League campaign

Liverpool begin their first UEFA Champions League campaign for five years on Tuesday night against Bulgarian side Ludogorets and manager Brendan Rodgers says he is relishing the challenge.

Rodgers believes his side can shrug off the disappointment of Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Aston Villa and make their mark once more among Europe's elite.

It is five years since the five-time champions competed in European football's top club competition and Rodgers knows how much the game matters to the supporters.

He said: "This is a group that has shown over the time that I've been here that we have to get over disappointment and move to the next game.

Success is about qualifying from the group. We will take it one game at a time. But the overall first objective is to perform well and get out of the group and qualify.
Brendan Rodgers

"We dominated the game against Villa but didn’t get the result we wanted but we have to move on. Our focus now goes straight to Tuesday night.

"It will be a wonderful occasion for us to be back in Champions League football and hopefully getting over the weekend result by getting a win in the first group game.

"I am very excited. Five years is a long time. We deserve the right to be in it. Last year, we had a great season. Success is about qualifying from the group. We will take it one game at a time. But the overall first objective is to perform well and get out of the group and qualify."

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While many are tipping Liverpool to progress from a group that also includes Real Madrid and Basel, Rodgers is taking nothing for granted.

He said: "Like all games at this level, it will be a tough game. They are the top team in Bulgaria and we have had them watched and have done a lot of research on them. They play 4-2-3-1 and the full-backs look to get forward. They want to attack.

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"They come here with confidence and will want to perform like they have been doing in Bulgaria. We now have to be really aggressive with our pressing and passing. We know they will be a tough opponent.

"It is only the last couple of days that it has brought home how long it has been away. This was my main priority to get the club at this level.

"This is one of the football greats around the world and this is the elite competition. This game can’t come quick enough for us. I have had supporters in my office, telling me about it. We do this for our supporters.

"The key is to build towards making this a sustainable club. The Champions League is the elite level."

Meanwhile, Dejan Lovren is also looking forward to making amends for the defeat by Villa.

He said: "We have shown to everyone that we can play and are not scared about defeats.

"Aston Villa was a little bit painful, we didn’t expect it, but it happens. We need to keep our head up and concentrate. We need to move on.

"We have the Champions League now and we have to forget about the weekend result. Of course we need to improve in every game but I am really confident in our team. We are practically a new team with a lot of new players. Everything will settle down.

"I think for everyone it is a pleasure to be back in after five years. We want success here. It will not be easy but I am sure that we can get out of the group."

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