Liverpool’s draw with Napoli means they need a draw in Salzburg in final Champions League group game
Jurgen Klopp admits it is never easy at Liverpool and says he had not planned ahead to go to Red Bull Salzburg with a weakened side after their Champions League progress was halted.
The 1-1 draw with Napoli on Wednesday night means Liverpool need a result in Salzburg in a fortnight’s time, and means Klopp cannot rest some of his star players amid a hectic period of fixtures.
But Klopp said he never expected to have it easy enough to have the luxury of going to Salzburg not needing anything.
“I never planned it for this,” Klopp said after the game. “Why would we plan for Salzburg when we have Napoli?
“Come on, I am four years in, tell me when it was easy. Last year we had to win at home 1-0 against Napoli, I cannot remember a bigger pressure game than that. It was really difficult and we did it, so now we have to go to Salzburg.
“In this moment, the game is over, so my problem is Fabinho is injured and Brighton [is next] – not Salzburg, not at all.
“But I know how human beings are; people wished we could finish the group tonight and make kind of a holiday game in Salzburg. Never happened, will never happen.
“So, that’s the situation. If we have ambitions in the Champions League, we have to show that in Salzburg – and until then, we have to show our ambitions in the Premier League. There are a couple of games to play until then and we have to be focused on them – and we will be, no doubt.”
Liverpool’s packed end of 2019
- Nov 30: Brighton (h)
- Dec 4: Everton (h)
- Dec 7: Bournemouth (a)
- Dec 10: RB Salzburg (a)
- Dec 14: Watford (h)
- Dec 17: Aston Villa (a)
- Dec 18: CWC semi-final (n)
- Dec 21: CWC final or 3rd PO (n)
- Dec 26: Leicester (a)
- Dec 29: Wolves (h)
Klopp, who has a poor record against Napoli in management, added that the Italian side changed approach for their trip to Anfield, playing more defensively than he had expected.
“Obviously I struggle when I play Napoli, sorry for that! It’s more about how good they are, that’s how it is.
“Napoli were anyway set up mainly for a proper fight; whoever sees Napoli playing usually, it was a different approach tonight. It was clear going for a result, scoring a goal and defending with all you have.”
Klopp faces an anxious wait to discover the extent of the injury suffered by his key midfielder Fabinho in the first half, but it is a waiting game for the manager.
“The biggest thing is the Fabinho injury, that’s massive,” said Klopp. “It’s early and we all hope it’s not too serious but it’s pretty painful and in an area you don’t want to have pain, around the ankle.”
Thommo: Liverpool were poor
Phil Thompson on Soccer Special…
“I thought they were just poor, the decision-making, the pass was so slow, and they just didn’t move the Napoli defence about.
“Once Napoli had that lead to cling onto, they were settled. This wasn’t a good Napoli side, that’s the disappointing thing. If they’d got into second gear, they should have beaten them.
“It just wasn’t to be tonight, it just wasn’t Liverpool. I was a little bit disappointed with the attitude, that they didn’t go and nail it early on.”
Liverpool now host Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm, and their final group game at Red Bull Salzburg on December 10.
The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League takes place on Monday December 16 in Nyon, with proceedings set to start at 11am, UK time.