Joel Matip is aware of the need for Liverpool 'to fight in every second of the game' when they take on Atalanta BC in the Champions League this evening.
The Reds can secure qualification to the knockout stages of the competition with victory at Anfield, having defeated the Serie A outfit 5-0 away from home earlier this month.
Matip and his teammates head into the game on the back of a resounding 3-0 win over Leicester City in the Premier League.
With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez injured, Fabinho dropped back to partner the No.32 in the heart of the backline as they went on to deliver a well-earned clean sheet.
Read on as Liverpoolfc.com caught up with Matip to discuss his partnership with Fabinho and preview the Atalanta affair...
First of all, Joel, a great team performance on Sunday against Leicester City and a clean sheet, too – a perfect evening for you...
Yes, it was a really good night and something we can build upon and we are looking forward to the next game.
A new partner for you at the back, too, in Fabinho. The two of you looked like you had been alongside each other for years…
Fabinho made it great. He was looking like the most experienced centre-back I saw for a long time. But he did it really well and the whole team was really good. Everybody helped each other and we played good together.
Fabinho is so versatile, isn’t he? How important is he for this team?
Of course. He directly stepped in and helped the team and each teammate. I think he is a big help.
How impressed have you been with the Academy lads like Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams, who have got their opportunity this season?
They have both done really great. To come in is quite hard at this age and you have to be responsible for a lot of the defensive part. But they both did it great and it’s good to know for every Liverpool supporter that they are young players who have come in and have a lot of quality.
You were on the bench after returning to action for the away game in Atalanta, so how impressed were you with the display of Rhys that night?
He did really great. He did everything what was asked of him and it was a great performance. He played an important part in the game against Atalanta. He had a great impact.
Obviously without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, as the senior recognised centre-back, do you feel extra responsibility in helping those lads when they play alongside you?
Of course, you always try to help each teammate and it doesn’t matter who comes in or what age he is. We have a team on the pitch and everybody tries to help each other out. If I can help them, I will do it and it’s the way a good team works. You try to help them. It’s not easy for them to come into a situation like this to play at this level directly from the beginning, but you try to help them.
Alisson Becker is two away from 100 games for Liverpool. How special a goalkeeper is he?
As a person first, he is amazing. He is kind and everybody knows he is the complete goalkeeper. I am always amazed by what he does with the ball and against the ball. Sometimes I can see it from close up but it’s still amazing.
It was some performance from the boys that night in Italy against Atalanta, wasn’t it?
It was really great. Looking from the outside, it was like ‘wow’. From the sidelines, it always looks a little bit different than on the TV, but it was a great performance.
A perfect start in your Champions League group so far, with three victories and no goals conceded. How much confidence has that given the group?
I think it has helped a lot. But the results from the first three games doesn’t count for this next one, so you have to work at the next game again and that’s the only way you can go.
Atalanta have obviously got threats in attack with the likes of Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel. Do we have to be wary of them trying to put things right after a heavy defeat?
Of course. Their biggest threat is their attacking line and they have performed great in Serie A and they are a threat for every team. So we have to be prepared and be ready to fight in every second of the game. Otherwise, we will get a serious problem. So, we know what we need to do.
The Champions League group stage is tougher than ever this season with games scheduled every week. How tough is that for the players?
It’s a really tough schedule but we have to deal with it. We have to make the best of it. There will be some tough games but it’s the only way how it goes and everybody is happy we have the chance to play in the Champions League. It will be intense.