Jürgen Klopp on Benfica analysis, Reds' defensive unit, Lisbon call and more

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Benfica analysis, Reds' defensive unit, Lisbon call and more

Published 4th April 2022
By Joe Urquhart

Jürgen Klopp discussed a wide range of topics during his pre-Benfica press conference on Monday afternoon.

The Reds boss previewed the first-leg Champions League quarter-final clash in Lisbon on Tuesday evening by answering journalists' questions at the AXA Training Centre.

Read on for a summary of Klopp's comments…

On what improvements need to be made against Benfica from the Watford win...

I don't think about being better, I think about being top of our game, that's the plan for all of the games. It doesn't happen that you try to improve here or there, you try to improve in general, and Benfica is obviously a different opponent. One of the most successful teams in Portugal, this year maybe not exactly where they want to be in the table but they went far in the Champions League so it's a tough opponent. I know we know a lot of players, obviously, from Premier League or Bundesliga or wherever so you can say it's a proper team and we have to be really good, that's true.

Photos: Reds prepare for Benfica trip at the AXA Training Centre
4th April 2022

Champions LeaguePhotos: Reds prepare for Benfica trip at the AXA Training CentreCheck out photos from the AXA Training Centre as Liverpool prepare for their Champions League clash with Benfica.

On Mohamed Salah's contract situation...

I'm happy with it because there's nothing new to say, that's good. It's just good. The decisive parties are talking to each other and that's all I need, and that's it.

On the importance of Liverpool's defensive unit...

It's the mother, if you want, of all the things we do. That's what I'm asking for constantly, that will never stop, because it gives you stability, it gives you [the] opportunity to win games 1-0, which is important, because you cannot always score plenty of goals because of the quality of the other opponents, so that's how it all starts [and] that's how it all ends. It's absolutely the basis for all the things we do.

On the call he took in Lisbon that brought him to Liverpool...

It did change my life, but it was not Mike Gordon on the phone, to Mike I spoke later, it was my agent on the phone. He told me about the interest. When I told the story to our website it was like, the situation was like, we [weren't] completely in a holiday mood but there was some rumours around which we didn't really follow. But with two sons they pick up pretty much everything, so I knew from them a little bit that [a] couple of things could happen. These kinds of things, and then when we were sitting there the phone rang and I didn't pick up a lot of phone calls at that time - my family was around so why should I talk to anybody else - but it was my agent, who is my friend as well, so I picked the phone up and then when he said, 'Yeah, Liverpool is calling...' then the boys were just looking at me, like staring at me, and I said, 'It's Liverpool...' and in that moment for them the decision was made and Ulla had to put the thumb up! Then it was clear we will do that, because it just felt right from the first second. So, it was life-changing, definitely.

On the threat Benfica's Darwin Nunez poses his team...

He's not the only one, they have a really good team, I have to say, a really talented team and a good way to play. But, yes, he's a good striker. The next one from Uruguay, I don't know how they play together [Edinson] Cavani, [Luis] Suarez and him. In one team, that's probably a challenge as well to put that in place. But, it's a top, top boy. Yes, the goals he scored, obviously the one against Ajax at Amsterdam was massive, a big one. Yes, in the group stage as well. So, he is not shy. He did now not start the last game, he came on at half-time because of coming back from international duty, so we expect him to start tomorrow. We have to make sure he will not get a lot of balls, but [they have] other players. Rafa [Silva] with the ball, wow, really quick. And, yeah, the others. I know Julian Weigl, obviously, Joao Mario we all know. There's a lot of quality in this team and experience as well, with [Jan] Vertonghen, [Nicolas] Otamendi, that's interesting. It's quarter-final of the Champions League, who cares, that's how it should be. I'm really happy and really looking forward to it.

On the challenge that Benfica will pose...

It's a football-playing side, they have odd positions, high full-backs, stuff like this as well. We have high full-backs as well in moments but it just shows they are ready to take a risk, [it] means when they are in possession they open up the formation. There's a lot of space to defend, so we have to make sure that we can win balls so we could use that as well. We expect that they do that, because that's what they did so far in pretty much all the games. But, maybe against us they play completely different. We have to adapt to that. It's a mix of these technical players, of speed, and good organisation, I have to say, and that's what makes them dangerous. The fact that they came through the group, in the league they are for sure not exactly in the position - the distance to Porto is, for sure, a bit too big for their understanding.

But in the Champions League, they overachieved. They were not in the group the favourite, for sure not. They were not against Ajax the favourite, for sure not. Ajax... everybody knows the talent of Ajax is insane and they kicked them out and that shows they know how to get a result. We have to make sure that we have a hand in that as well.

Published 4th April 2022