Liverpool want to be a team no one wants to play, says Klopp

The team is in top form having lost only once in their last 22 games in all competitions, winning 18 times

By Reuters/AFP

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Published: Wed 13 Apr 2022, 12:38 AM

Liverpool’s goal is to become a team nobody wants to face, manager Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday ahead of their Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Benfica at Anfield.

Liverpool lead 3-1 after victory in Lisbon last week and Klopp’s side are in a rich vein of form having lost only once in their last 22 games in all competitions, winning 18 times.

“We were good in Benfica, I liked the game. The main target is again being the one team no one wants to play,” Klopp told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s clash.

“Really aggressive in a football sense, defending well, knowing more about the way they play.”

The English League Cup winners have what Klopp described as a “super intense” schedule and are on track for an unprecedented haul of four trophies this season.

Liverpool are second in the Premier League, trailing leaders Manchester City by a point, and have also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Klopp added his team selection would not be made with one eye on Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against City, with whom they drew 2-2 in the league on Sunday.

“The next game has no influence on the line up for tomorrow but the last game has so we have to see,” Klopp said.

“There is nobody injured as far as I know but we need to look at who is fresh enough for this game.

“We see it as a super important game to us. We tried so hard last year to qualify for the Champions League and now we can make it to semis, which is incredible.”

Klopp said the game would be as tricky as their last-16 second leg against Inter Milan, when they lost 1-0 after a 2-0 win in the first leg.

“A good basis (3-1 lead). But if they score one, like we felt against Inter, the game changes,” Klopp said.

“We felt it when they scored last week. We really need to make them feel this is a place they don’t want to go.”

As for Liverpool’s ongoing bid for the quadruple, Klopp said: “We are part of four competitions, and thankfully we are good enough this year not to go out early.

“We just try to squeeze everything out of every competition. Some are possible, we will see.”

Anfield factor

Liverpool raced into an early 2-0 lead in Lisbon last week before Darwin Nunez pulled a goal back for Benfica.

And it was only when Luis Diaz scored three minutes from time that Liverpool restored their two-goal lead.

“Knowing more about the way they played, they try to isolate Darwin and Ibou (Konate) one-on-one a little bit,” said Klopp.

“But they play football, and if you don’t defend (Julian) Weigl then you have a problem as well because he connects the people. They have speed with Rafa (da Silva), things like this.”

He added: “I don’t know (how they will play) but I know what I would do. I would go for it, full throttle. I would try to put us under pressure, score early, and if not try to score a bit later. That’s what we expect.

“But now, bad news for Benfica, it’s Anfield: they don’t only play against us, they play against the whole crowd.”

Klopp also suggested television broadcasters were almost as much a threat to Liverpool as their opponents in a renewed attack on the scheduling of the Merseysiders’ matches.

If Liverpool defeat Benfica, they will face either Bayern Munich or Villarreal in the last four, with Klopp angry that after that potential midweek semi-final Liverpool would have to travel to Newcastle for a Saturday lunchtime kick-off.

“The schedule, and how people use the fame in the moment -- Liverpool is hot and everyone wants to see them -- they couldn’t care less,” said Klopp.

“It’s just not OK.

“If we play a Champions League semi-final, find me another league in the world and another broadcaster in the world who would put that team in a 12.30 pm (1130 GMT)?”

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