Jürgen Klopp on Atletico, Simeone, Group B situation and more

Q&AJürgen Klopp on Atletico, Simeone, Group B situation and more

Published 2nd November 2021

Jürgen Klopp previewed Liverpool’s Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid by holding a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

The Reds’ boss discussed a variety of topics during his media briefing at Anfield – and you can read a full transcript below now…

Fabinho and Thiago in contention for Atletico, but Keita absent
2nd November 2021

NewsFabinho and Thiago in contention for Atletico, but Keita absentFabinho and Thiago Alcantara are in contention for Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, but Naby Keita is ruled out.

On what he expects from Atletico…

Similar intensity. Atletico never I don’t know, in the history since Diego [Simeone] is there, they never played a friendly game, so we should not expect that. The situation in the group sets the level as well, so it’s clear Atleti probably need three points - or think they need three points - and stuff like this and we want to win the game with all we have. We are at home and it is so long ago we played a home game in the Champions League; it was AC Milan, which was four or five weeks ago or something like that. We were so happy last year when we qualified for the Champions League because we knew we would have nights like this, so now a night like this is coming and we should celebrate it in a football way together with our supporters. Atletico is a good team, a very good team, an incredibly good team, everybody knows [that] difficult to play against, everybody knows [that] but we will give it a try.

On Liverpool’s defensive record in recent matches…

We aren’t perfect, I know that. I knew that before. We have to defend situations better, that’s absolutely clear and no doubt about that. But we had before, I don’t know how many clean sheets Ali had already this season. We cannot always make these discussions because of one game. You beat United 5-0 and the world is very rosy and then in the next moment you draw 2-2 against Brighton and you have massive problems. It is neither nor. We have to improve, that’s what we know. Against Brighton, the best way of defending would have been to keep the ball, to play football we played in our good periods, in the first half especially. That’s what we didn’t do and that was my problem. I knew before the game that we would have problems in moments against Brighton because all teams had it so far. That’s the quality of Brighton; they don’t finish those situations off always but against us they did and that’s why they deserved a point. It has nothing to do with tomorrow, but that we have to defend in general better, we knew that before. We work on that and we better do it tomorrow night because Atletico are a pretty good football team.

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On how significant it would be to qualify from the group with two games to spare…

Of course it would be big, it’s just that we usually don’t have to talk about these kind of things because we usually have a final in the group and I hope that will not happen this year like with the last matchday of the group stage when we need a 1-0 or something like and it is not allowed the opponent scores at all. Of course, we want to avoid that but we cannot make the second step before the first step - and the first step is to win against Atletico and that’s already difficult enough. What it means then and what kind of achievement it would be, we can talk about it afterwards. That’s not for the moment - for the moment we have to prepare a football game against one of the best sides in the world and one of the most determined sides in the world, one of the most motivated sides in the world. They obviously go for everything all the time - and that’s what we know. We played them now the fifth time tomorrow, in the tournament in Munich I think [pre-season 2017] and the two games one-and-a-half years ago. We know a lot about each other so there should not be any surprises, so we can prepare the game and play the best possible way we can. That’s the idea.

On the impact of Naby Keita’s withdrawal from Saturday’s game with Brighton due to injury…

It had an impact, but it nothing to do with Ox or whatever. We have clear patterns and if you watch us closely then you see a couple of them. The right side worked really well together with Naby, Trent and Mo, it worked really well. Then Oxlade came on and has a completely different skill set; he is a complete different player to Naby. He is a very good one as well, but different. By the way, he set up the second goal, so it was not about Oxlade, it was just about things and how you do them usually, then you have to change them and these kinds of things. Against a lot of of opponents that would have been not that really obvious, but against Brighton it was and that's all we can say. It was a lot about Brighton, how they used our little weaknesses in that game. That’s it pretty much and now we know he cannot play, so we prepare it in a different way - or maybe two different ways - and we know exactly what everybody is doing.

On A-League player Josh Cavallo’s announcement that he is gay and why men’s football is not seen as a safe environment for people of all sexualities… 

Actually, of course, I think we all agree that it should not be like this. Obviously that Josh is doing that and it is such a big story – that is actually the problem we have, that it is not ‘normal’, or that he has to make an announcement and is not just living his life, his private life, and nobody should be bothered about that. What I can tell you [after] 30 years in the industry how you said it, I never had a dressing room where it would have been a problem at all. So, the problem is not the inner circle, obviously, the problem is the wider thing and we all have to work on it still, obviously. That’s very disappointing that we have still to work on it but we have to, that’s how it is. These kind of news [announcements] are not necessary, nobody has to make an announcement like that and nobody has to open up. I didn’t say that I am heterosexual, I didn’t have to. These kind of things should be just completely normal, but we cannot change that now. Again, it’s not in the dressing room, where is it then? How would the media deal with it, how did the media deal with it, I have no idea. How much they are pushing it or does Josh just going back to what he actually wants to do, which is playing football. Crowds in the stadium, that’s how it is… we had our thing in Manchester, they were shouting a few things and didn’t know why, to be honest, but these things they try to give you some stick in a stadium. That would happen with these kind of things for sure so it’s about being strong enough to get through this. I saw his speech or his announcement and he looks like a really strong, smart young man and I wish him really all the best. I am really thankful that he did it because now we talk again – I’m not sure when we spoke last time about this subject, now we speak again and that’s always a good start for changes. 

On his respect for Simeone…

I respect a lot what he is doing, I said that before and after the game. But as private people we cannot speak about each other, well we can of course but we don’t know each other pretty well. That’s the case but I couldn’t respect him more. The things he is doing at Atletico and for how long he is doing it, absolutely exceptional. Against a lot of really strong sides, being in such a good position year after year after year, that’s really impressive. I think part of the question was about the handshake. How I said after the game, if I would have known after the game that he doesn’t do it [post-match] - and I didn’t know - I wouldn’t have tried it. Then I tried it and I was waving or whatever, that was not necessary from me. I was really not happy with that but I know we are both emotional and that was my emotion then, it was not necessary. But now I know he doesn’t want to do it after the game so no problem. We shook hands actually before the game so we will do that tomorrow night probably before the game as well, I assume. But after the game, not – fine, absolutely no problem. Then we all can go home happily, at least in that department, but in between the two handshakes it’s a very important game for us and that’s what I’m much more concerned about, what I’m much more thinking about. It will be a tough one. We know that, but it’s our home ground and we want other teams to feel that as well. We want to create a really special atmosphere tomorrow night in a highly emotional game – not only the managers are emotional but the players as well, both teams are really determined, great attitude, they fight for everything and that’s what we will probably see tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s a massive game against a super side – but we are not too bad as well.

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On whether Liverpool’s recent record of conceding goals this season is down to issues in the backline or injuries in midfield…

Look, we can talk about that, it’s no problem. We talk about that internally, you can imagine. In analysis goals we concede are obviously part of it and most of the goals happen because something is not right and that is what we are working on. Unfortunately there is not a massive pattern now that the goals always happen in the same way. We have some things which we recognised, saw and hopefully stopped. But then, sometimes in football, in the next game a different problem. We see the game as a complex game, it is a complex game and that means you have to consider pretty much each part of the game. You have the ball, that doesn’t mean you are only offensive, you need people in protection. You don’t have the ball, that doesn’t mean everybody is in the challenge, you need help around, you need good positioning for after winning the ball, all these kind of things. That means the general thing is OK, but in details we have to improve, we know that and that is what we are absolutely working on.

On how he reflects on the Reds’ last home meeting with Atleti in March 2020, their final match before football was suspended due to the pandemic…

Not too much really, but now before the home game again from time to time you think a little bit about it. A strange 18 months since then really, the world turned in parts upside down. I’m not sure we could have imagined that that night, I think most of us had the sense of it that something really drastic can happen to us and to society and that’s what happened but that night I didn’t know to which extent. But yeah, it’s 18 months ago, crazy. When I thought about this game later, in April or May or whatever, it was the last game we played but I never thought about a football game. Just in my mind it was a really strange moment, to be honest. Before the game, after the game, everything that happened. The news you got before the game, the changes in Madrid, here we were not that far. Then all of a sudden, no mascots in the stadium, so you realise ‘OK, somebody thinks that would be not good’. It was really a strange kind of situation we were all in and I see it as that. But the football game, we lost. If I am right we played a pretty good game but we lost and that’s it.

On Atletico’s performance in the game in Madrid a fortnight ago…

It was a little bit a game of different parts. We started really well, we scored incredible goals, were really on the front foot, dominating the game and then, not out of nothing but, we conceded a goal and then the stadium was there, the atmosphere was really exceptional then so it was a really tough game. They scored a second one, red card, 3-2, goodbye. Pretty much that was it. It was a tough game, we know that, and it will be a tough game [on Wednesday]. Atleti has a specific style of play, we have as well, so there will be probably ways in the game where one can be superior but in the end in your good moments you have to make decisive things and that’s what we will try tomorrow again.

Published 2nd November 2021