Jürgen Klopp described Liverpool’s Champions League draw as a ‘really interesting’ one before detailing his joy at the individual awards scooped by Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker on Thursday night.

The Reds were paired with Napoli, Salzburg and Genk in Group E following the draw in Monaco as they prepare to begin their defence of the European Cup.

There were also individual accolades presented to Van Dijk at the ceremony, with the centre-back named as the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and Champions League Defender of the Season for 2018-19.

Alisson, meanwhile, was awarded the Champions League Goalkeeper of the Year prize for his role in last term’s victory.

Immediately after the event was concluded, Klopp sat down with Liverpoolfc.com in his office at Melwood to offer his instant reaction...

His initial reaction to the draw…

Napoli again! I don’t know how often I’ve now played against Napoli, but they’re obviously a very experienced side. I will need now to have another, closer look at Genk and Salzburg, but I already know they are very young, very exciting and very fresh, so it will be interesting, 100 per cent. I don’t think I’ve ever played against Salzburg or Genk, so that’s interesting. It’s how it always is, it’s not an easy group and not a group where we can hide behind anybody. We have to try everything to go through, but we are really looking forward to it like always. Now we know the opponents, when we were walking off the pitch from training I immediately spoke with Divock about playing Genk! We will do our analysis and research on all three teams, but we know they all played exceptional seasons last year. Of course, Salzburg are famous for bringing through new players, like they did with Sadio and Naby – they’ve found a lot of others, too. It will be really interesting.

On facing Napoli again, as well as Salzburg and Genk for the first time…

Napoli are just a really good side. The home game we played against Napoli was one of the best games we played because it was so rock solid. It was not allowed to concede against Napoli with the strength they have in counter-attacks. The way they play is clear and it’s really good. In the pre-season games, when we won 5-0 in Dublin I was not interested in the result. Now this year we lost 3-0 and that’s not too interesting, but you see just how good they are. They were not complete, we were not complete, but they are a really good side. Carlo [Ancelotti] has such experience and has won the competition so often. When they went out last year, it was pretty close – Ali made a big save in the last seconds, so they will remember that and it will be emotional, I am pretty sure. With the other two teams, I know how people are and immediately they will say these are the two 'smaller teams' of the group. They are not. I am not sure how it is for Genk, but for Salzburg they fought for so long and so hard to be part of the Champions League, so they will fight with whatever they have. They will have 30,000 in their stadium who will show how long they were waiting for it. That’s the group, so now let’s prepare for it.

On Van Dijk winning Men’s Player of the Year…

Brilliant! It’s really big. I wanted to call him immediately but he had to go on stage. I’m so happy for him; I’m happy for us as well because he knows that without the boys around him, he cannot win that prize. It’s a prize for all of us – but we send our big man there to get it. It’s big. It’s really rare for a defender. It’s such important information for football, such an important sign for football. Yes, we all love goals – we want to score them and see them – but more and more and more people get excited about defending. Virg is an exceptional defender, in the moment 100 per cent the best defender in the world, so he deserves that prize absolutely. It’s now the icing on the cake of the Champions League campaign last year. It’s really big and I’m completely happy for him and his family.

On Alisson receiving the goalkeeper award…

Congratulations as well. I would say well, well, well deserved. He had exceptional saves. In the final he made it look like all these finishes of Tottenham were so easy to save them – but they were not. He kept his nerves, calmed the game down in the right moment, made it quick in the right moment, saved our lives so often. So it’s so deserved. In the first season with us and immediately winning the Champions League. What a year he had, he won the Champions League, won the Copa America and now is the best goalie of last year 100 per cent. For me, he is the best goalie in the world in the moment. We just have to make sure it stays like this. He is now injured; when he is back, we are all waiting for that already, even when Adrian is doing an incredible job. Sending two players there and both winning the competition they are in, it’s big. It’s a really big day for Liverpool.

On the excitement to go again in the Champions League…

Of course. We think now about the Champions League and that’s it, from now on nobody thinks about the Champions League. We have enough time to prepare the games and we’ll do that. It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I’m really looking forward to it. How everybody knows, everybody in Liverpool enjoys Champions League football, so it will be great. European nights at Anfield, everybody is welcome. And let’s do it as well as we can.

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