Jürgen Klopp on facing Inter, away goals change and squad choices

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on facing Inter, away goals change and squad choices

Published 15th February 2022
By Chris Shaw

Jürgen Klopp explained why Liverpool have to produce a ‘top-class’ performance to gain a positive result at Internazionale on Wednesday night.

The Reds resume their Champions League campaign where it left off in December, at San Siro, for the first leg of their last-16 meeting with Simone Inzaghi’s team.

At a pre-match press conference today, Klopp outlined what he expects up against last season’s Serie A champions, the removal of the away goals rule, the depth of options currently in his squad, and plenty more.

Jordan Henderson fitness latest
15th February 2022

NewsJordan Henderson fitness latestJürgen Klopp provided an update on the fitness of Jordan Henderson ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Internazionale.

Read a summary of the manager’s chat with the media below…

On how different a test Inter will pose compared to the weekend clash with Burnley in the Premier League…

The difference is massive between Burnley and Inter in some parts obviously, but in other parts not so much because it’s a football game and still a football game. If we are dominant then Inter will defend pretty compact. I’m pretty sure it will not be as windy or rainy as it was at Burnley, so that’s a big difference as well. Apart from that, Inter is an absolute top, top, top-class team. Top-class players, top-class manager, were champions last year. With all respect to the other teams, I think it’s probably the best team this year again in Italy, you can see it in the table at the moment. They look really rock-solid, they have creativity on the pitch, they are very well organised, very well drilled in everything they do. And the individual quality is big. So that’s Champions League, no doubt about that. That is a top-class team and we need to show a top-class performance to even have a chance. But why shouldn’t we try?

Inside Burnley: Reds win 1-0 at Turf Moor

On the removal of the away goals rule…

We can say more about that after the two games. But actually, I can’t remember a game when we went somewhere and thought, ‘OK, at least a goal would be great’ or something like that. So we go there to get a result, whatever that means. I don’t know what would be a good result in the moment – winning would be great, maybe a draw we have to take. We will see that. First and foremost, we have to play the game. Actually, I liked the rule always even as a supporter before – longer in my life I watched the Champions League than I was part of it and I liked the rule. I don’t know exactly why they scrapped it but it’s now gone and it’s all OK. We deal with that, but I think it’s not a massive impact on the way we play because we don’t go there to get somehow through the game, we try to play our best game, to be honest, and to win it. But that’s really difficult.

On the amount of options he has to choose from in the squad…

Yeah, that’s absolutely a good situation to have, no doubt about that. But I don’t know how often I have to say that it’s much more important how we play than who is playing. That’s how it is. It helps of course if we have solutions for different problems or options for different situations. That’s what we try to use of course as well. We need fresh legs for this game but much more important is that we have the chance to change five times in the game, which is just a massive boost for football in general, in a really tough period of the year. It’s good to have the boys around but the boys have to deal with it as well. It’s really like this. If I have the opportunity to make more changes, that’s how it is, that means I cannot just play always the same line-up just because we won the last game. That’s something we have to learn together and that’s what we do, because we never had it before. It’s pretty exciting.

On whether winning every game in the group stage, or being away from home in the first leg against Inter, give Liverpool any advantage…

Historically, the results in the group stage don’t count in the knockout stage. So there’s no advantage. It’s good, it was good when we did it but we didn’t expect that in that group. Actually, I didn’t think there was a chance to do that but the boys did it so that was incredible, but doesn’t help now obviously. It just shows we are a good football team, but we knew that before. In the years when we went to the final we had pretty average group-stage results, we came through pretty much on one wheel, but that didn’t hold us back from trying to play a proper knockout stage. That’s what we do this time again. It’s game 51 in the Champions League since I’m here, so we gained some experience in the competition and that’s what we want to use. We know we face an incredibly strong team with a specific style, a football-playing side but defensively very well organised. It’s a tough one. It will be good.

Hopefully [playing away first can be an advantage], you never know before the game. Actually, it should be, but it depends on the result we get at Milan. It’s good this way round but it’s not the decisive point because we actually don’t want to rely too much on Anfield. It’s fine when we need it and Anfield delivers and can push us, but it would be better if we don’t have to rely too much on it.

On the absence of Nicolo Barella due to suspension…

That Barella is not able to play is not bad for us. He’s a really good player, a really good player and I like him a lot. He has all the things you want from a midfield player: he is aggressive, he is technical, he can run for ages and all these kinds of things. That’s a top-class player. I’m not 100 per cent sure but probably the replacement will be Arturo Vidal, maybe? That’s experience at its best, he played everywhere on the top level and I think in these games Arturo is especially motivated. So I’m not so sure if it’s an advantage for us that he will play instead of Barella, but that’s not so important. I like to say in these situations it’s not so important who is playing, it’s much more important how we play. It counts for us very much but it counts for other teams as well. It’s what kind of mood can you create in a game, what kind of mentality can you produce, what kind of football can you show? It depends on the players obviously but it depends even more on the team. So, that will be really interesting. It’s one of these games, if I wouldn’t be there I would watch it definitely.

On what Luis Diaz will bring to the team…

He’s a top boy, a top-class player. He showed that already in two appearances he had for us now. The last game he didn’t come on. Like it is for a new player, you have to get used to different things in the team. We have all other players fit so they know exactly what I want from them. We give Luis a little bit more time to adapt to it, but he is an incredible player. His joy and love for football is so obvious. When you see him training, he cannot stop smiling. I’ve never had a player like this, it’s crazy. We are so, so happy to have him here, it’s absolutely great. We expect a lot from him in the future; now already but in the future as well. I have a good feeling it will be a really nice story with Luis at Liverpool.

Published 15th February 2022