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Leicester Europa League loss to Slavia Prague means Brendan Rodgers has now tripped up FIVE times

Brendan Rodgers must be waking up this morning with an unsettling feeling of Deja vu.   

He shouldered the blame after Leicester were dumped out of the Europa League by Slavia Prague in the last-32 but this is familiar territory for him. 

Rodgers is regarded as one of the brightest talents in management and has done a brilliant job at Leicester, however, Europe remains a blot on his copybook. 

Brendan Rodgers' side were dumped out of the Europa League by Slavia Prague

Brendan Rodgers' side were dumped out of the Europa League by Slavia Prague

Brendan Rodgers’ side were dumped out of the Europa League by Slavia Prague

There were wild celebrations from the Czech side after they upset Premier League opposition

There were wild celebrations from the Czech side after they upset Premier League opposition

There were wild celebrations from the Czech side after they upset Premier League opposition

Tuesday’s limp defeat against unfancied opposition at the King Power was the latest failure for the Northern Irishman in the first knockout round. 

It has become something of a hoodoo for him. 

Leicester will have been confident about seeing off the Czech team, particularly having battled hard to take a 0-0 draw back home for the second leg. 

Jamie Vardy, Wilfried Ndidi, Youri Tielemans, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü and Kasper Schmeichel all started. 

The spine of the team was more than capable of doing a job despite the absence of James Maddison and Harvey Barnes starting from the bench. 

But the Foxes lost the bite that has made them such a dangerous team in the Premier League this season. 

Afterwards, Rodgers reflected: ‘It’s my responsibility, I pick the team with the players we have available and clearly it didn’t work as well as I would have liked.

‘Overall, they were better than us and deserved to go through. We have to go away and learn from that. 

BRENDAN RODGERS’ FAILURES IN EUROPE 
Team Opponent For Against Venue Result Season Competition Round Progressed/Eliminated Leg
Liverpool Zenit  0 2 A L 2012-2013 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 1
Liverpool Zenit  3 1 H W 2012-2013 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 2
Liverpool Besiktas 1 0 H W 2014-2015 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 1
Liverpool Besiktas 0 1 A L 2014-2015 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 2
Celtic Zenit  1 0 H W 2017-2018 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 1
Celtic Zenit  0 3 A L 2017-2018 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 2
Celtic Valencia  0 2 H L 2018-2019 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 1
Celtic Valencia  0 1 A L 2018-2019 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 2
Leicester City Slavia Prague 0 0 A D 2020-2021 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 1
Leicester City Slavia Prague 0 2 H L 2020-2021 UEFA Europa League Last 32 Eliminated 2

‘It’s disappointing but I said to the players afterwards we have to learn from it. We can accept it a lot easier as we weren’t good enough on the night and over the two legs.

‘We’ll get back in, move on and we’ve enjoyed the European experience and we want to fight this year and be better next year.’

Enjoying the European ‘experience’ is an interesting insight into Rodgers’ mentality. 

There’s no way to sugar coat being eliminated from the Europa League in the first knockout round. 

Realistically, Leicester will be fighting for a top six place every year to qualify for these competitions. So when they’ve reached the destination, surely it is worth aiming for more than just enjoying the ride. 

Nobody would have wanted to draw Leicester in the next round and it feels like a huge missed opportunity. 

Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League last-32 by Zenit under Rodgers in 2013

Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League last-32 by Zenit under Rodgers in 2013

Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League last-32 by Zenit under Rodgers in 2013

Rodgers consoles Raheem Sterling after Liverpool's defeat by Besiktas on penalties in 2015

Rodgers consoles Raheem Sterling after Liverpool's defeat by Besiktas on penalties in 2015

Rodgers consoles Raheem Sterling after Liverpool’s defeat by Besiktas on penalties in 2015

Rodgers must be sick of this stage of the Europa League by now. He’s now lost five times in the round of 32. 

With Liverpool back in 2012/13, Steven Gerrard, Luiz Suarez and Co fell to a two-legged defeat by Zenit St Petersburg having lost 2-0 in Russia. 

They won the return 3-1 but dropped out on away goals. Rodgers praised his side as ‘phenomenal’, adding: ‘To have to score that many goals and nearly do it gives me so much pride.’

It was positive spin on a night when the Reds’ last chance of silverware that season went up in smoke. 

Two years later, Beskitas took Liverpool – who had dropped down after a humiliating Champions League group stage exit – to penalties and won the shootout at the same stage. 

Rodgers cited the state of the pitch as a factor in the match, saying: ‘We didn’t come to lose, we came to win. It was a good game, not much in the game and the pitch was very difficult for both teams.’

Martin Skrtel, Javi Manquillo and Rickie Lambert (L-R) look dejected after the defeat

Martin Skrtel, Javi Manquillo and Rickie Lambert (L-R) look dejected after the defeat

Martin Skrtel, Javi Manquillo and Rickie Lambert (L-R) look dejected after the defeat

Zenit again proved too much for Rodgers in 2017-18, this time as Celtic manager. 

The Scottish side took a 1-0 advantage into the second leg but were well beaten 3-0 in Russia. He took aim at his side’s lack of courage on the ball afterwards. 

Rodgers said: ‘We were much better than them in the first game. If we played with a little bit more courage and belief tonight, we could maybe have got a result.

‘At 2-0 we still have an opportunity in the game. But everything was too sideways and backwards and that’s about bravery and having that courage to play.’

It was the same old story in 2018/19 too. This time Valencia put Celtic to the sword, winning the first leg 2-0 at Celtic Park and shading the home game 1-0. 

This time it was individual errors that Rodgers blamed for the defeat, lamenting: ‘Unfortunately for us we made too many mistakes. When you do that against good teams it kills your momentum, puts you on the back foot.

Celtic did not make it past the round of 32 stage under Rodgers against Valencia in 2019

Celtic did not make it past the round of 32 stage under Rodgers against Valencia in 2019

Celtic did not make it past the round of 32 stage under Rodgers against Valencia in 2019

The Northern Irishman will want to fix the pattern of Europa League last-32 exits

The Northern Irishman will want to fix the pattern of Europa League last-32 exits

The Northern Irishman will want to fix the pattern of Europa League last-32 exits 

‘Concentration is so important, you can get away with it domestically at times, but at this level, against good players, you don’t concentrate and you bring pressure onto yourself. It ended up being a disappointing night for us.’

Liverpool are a big enough club, particularly with their European pedigree and Celtic live for those games under the floodlights so prioritising the league does not really wash as a reason for the persistent failure from Rodgers. 

Only Valencia were the superior team on paper out of the five defeats and it has happened too many times for Rodgers not to be concerned about it. 

If he has ambitions beyond Leicester, at one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and Europe, his European record will certainly cast a shadow of doubt in the minds of those recruiters. 

The Leicester boss must now focus on the FA Cup and Premier League this season

The Leicester boss must now focus on the FA Cup and Premier League this season

The Leicester boss must now focus on the FA Cup and Premier League this season 

Of course, the Premier League is the main focus with Leicester doing so well, sitting level on points with Manchester United who are in second on goal difference. 

If the table looked the same at the end of the season, Leicester fans would soon forgive the Slavia Prague disappointment. 

But if their form dips and Rodgers’ side end up in the Europa League spots again, Thursday night’s failure will sting that bit more.  

Source: Daily

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