Klopp Hopes For Champions League Respite For Struggling Liverpool

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp reacts during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 3, 2021. Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes a change of competition will give his side a break from their wretched Premier League form that has put their chances of a top-four finish in jeopardy.

A sixth successive home league defeat, the latest to struggling Fulham on Sunday, left the Reds well adrift of Champions League qualification, having played more matches than the teams immediately above them.

On Wednesday they will play in Budapest again — the “home” second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against RB Leipzig, holding a 2-0 lead.

Not playing at Anfield, due to coronavirus travel restrictions, could be a relief to Klopp following his team’s dismal run.

“If we can go through, which is not guaranteed, then that could give confidence,” said the German manager.

“Then we have Wolves, which is a tough one, and then we have a couple of weeks off because of the international break and all these kind of things.

“We have to use that time, we have to hope all the boys who go to their national teams come back healthy, like always.

“Then I think there are another nine or 10 games to go, sounds like 27 or 30 points, so a lot to go for and we will try.”

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Diogo Jota and Fabinho are both likely to start against Leipzig after returning from lengthy injury spells but Klopp does not believe his side will be able to recover the swagger they had over the past two seasons until everyone is fit again.

Captain Jordan Henderson should play again this season after groin surgery but centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have been ruled out of the remainder of the current campaign.

“For being the successful team again, for being the team we can be in the best possible way, of course we have to be complete,” said Klopp, who led Liverpool to their first English top-flight title for 30 years last season.

James Milner, captaining the side in the absence of Henderson, said Liverpool, who were top of the table at Christmas, were letting their fans down.

“It definitely hurts,” he told Sky Sports. “When you’re playing for a club with the history of Liverpool, the history we’ve created as a group of players, the standards we’ve set, we’re not hitting them at this moment in time and it’s not good enough.

“It’s disappointing and hard when you’re letting the club down and letting the fans down.

“It’s for us to keep pushing and dig ourselves out of the mess.”

AFP

Klopp Threatens To Withdraw Liverpool Players From World Cup Qualifiers

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp reacts during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 3, 2021. Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has threatened to withdraw players from international matches this month if there is a chance they will have to quarantine on their return under coronavirus rules.

Arrivals in Britain from “Red List” countries are subject to 10 days’ hotel confinement, which would apply to Brazilian trio Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho and Portugal forward Diogo Jota.

World governing body FIFA has given clubs dispensation to prevent players who may be affected by the regulations from joining up with their countries for the matches, which include World Cup qualifiers.

And Klopp fully intends to apply it, saying: “I think all the clubs agree that with the same problems we cannot just let the boys go and then sort the situation when they come back by placing our players in a 10-day quarantine in a hotel, it is just not possible.

“I understand the needs of the different FAs (football associations) but this is a time where we cannot make everyone happy and we have to admit the players are paid by the clubs so it means we have to be first priority.”

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Alisson is set to return to the side for the visit of Chelsea on Thursday after missing the win at Sheffield United as he was mourning the death of his father in a swimming accident in Brazil.

Sixth-placed Liverpool, who are one point behind Chelsea in the race for top-four spots, have not won at home since mid-December as their title defence has collapsed.

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 7, 2021. Manchester City won the game 4-1. Jon Super / POOL / AFP

 

Klopp, speaking at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, said Chelsea, still unbeaten under new boss Thomas Tuchel, would be tough to beat.

“It is quite difficult to get more possession than Chelsea,” he said. “You have to defend, work a lot, you have to be patient in moments and show your desire to defend all the time because they are a top team.”

But he said he was focused on the challenge of finishing in the top four, which would mean qualification for next season’s Champions League.

Liverpool are two points behind fourth-placed West Ham after beating Sheffield United.

“A week ago we were out now we’re around it again,” said Klopp. “The challenge and job is clear. We have to win games and as many as possible to make it. We know that.”

AFP