Jürgen Klopp on Napoli win, formations, Milner injury and more

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Napoli win, formations, Milner injury and more

Published 1st November 2022
By James Carroll and Chris Shaw at Anfield

Liverpool delivered the exact reaction Jürgen Klopp wanted to see as they beat Napoli 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Highlights: Liverpool 2-0 Napoli

The Reds grasped the first chance to bounce back from their weekend loss against Leeds United, with Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez scoring late goals to defeat the Serie A leaders at Anfield.

Both teams progress from Group A to the competition’s last 16, with Klopp’s side runners-up and set to discover their next opponents in Monday’s draw.

During his post-match assessment of the game, the manager explained the improvements in his side’s performance, the need to carry that level forward, a change in formation and more.

Read a transcript of his press conference below…

On the reaction he saw from his players on the night…

The reaction I wanted to see. We all agreed that we have to show a reaction – and we did, in a very difficult game against a really good opponent. We were compact and so it was never easy for Napoli to play out. You see a football-playing side, in all moments they could play out you saw immediately how good they are in one-on-one situations and collectively as well. But we did really well. How I said, we kept the spaces small and all of a sudden we found challenges. All of a sudden we have the challenges, then we can win challenges. The distance was there, a lot of good counter-pressing moments, good football moments.

Liverpool 2-0 Napoli: Five talking points from Anfield
1st November 2022

AnalysisLiverpool 2-0 Napoli: Five talking points from AnfieldLiverpool concluded their Group A Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory over Napoli on Tuesday night.

Second half, after the disallowed goal for Napoli it got a bit hectic, I understand, like everybody is now really up to speed and then we lost a little bit, too many situations then for Napoli in counter-attacks and we were not compact enough anymore and then all of a sudden they had more moments. [We] could calm that down a little bit again and then scored two really nice goals, where we showed as well the right determination – we were there for the rebounds and finished it off and won the game. Very good.

On the impact Nunez made off the bench…

Yeah, absolutely good. In these games, for us it was obviously not a game for massive rotation or whatever because of the situation. But a little bit we had to and that’s why we didn’t start all three [strikers] because we have to see how you get through a game. And I thought Curtis [Jones] did really well on an unfamiliar position for him. Did really well, was involved in the game. And then when you can then bring on a fresh player with the quality of Darwin it’s very helpful, so really happy about that.

On the injury sustained by James Milner and how serious it is…

Don’t know. He seemed to be fine now but we have to probably do further checks.

On what the victories over Manchester City and Napoli say about the quality of the Reds…

We don’t doubt the quality, I don’t think anybody doubts the quality. But that’s part of the problem as well – we don’t show consistency. That’s why I mentioned the second goal against Leeds as an example for our situation. It’s a situation where you have to defend with all you have but we are chasing the game, even when it’s around our 18-yard box. And you can see nobody wants to have a throw-in for Leeds and they can let time run down, and nobody protects the box pretty much because everybody thinks, ‘We have three players out there, we will win the ball.’ That’s a little bit the situation we are in, that’s why we have to make a proper step back and tonight we did that.

To be really [that] when we defend, we defend with all we have, what we did tonight. We were really compact, really close to the challenges and then in the challenges we showed the determination we have to show. We are Liverpool, a top team. Nobody forgot what we did last year, the boys didn’t forget that, but it’s now not important really. I know people might get sick of it when I say it but we really have to fight through and in that moment then the football has a good chance to come back as well, the real football we can play. But we showed tonight everything. We showed pieces of really, really, really good football, and the defensive stuff was on a high level.

Napoli is in the moment a real force, really, and so it could have been extremely difficult for us tonight but the boys played a really good game and that’s why it was not. So, again, consistency, stability is what we need to get. Tonight we will take the right conclusions of this game, even when the next one will be a completely different game for different reasons. We will take the good stuff out of this game and then start the next fight against Tottenham.

On whether he had any regrets from the night...

I don’t regret anything tonight, that we didn’t go for the third and the fourth goal. That’s not the case. We had the worst possible start into this group with a very bad game against Napoli; maybe we helped Napoli a little bit with our performance [so] they got all the confidence they needed and show now in the league in Italy. It’s the third time we have the last game against Napoli in the group stage, if I am right. Usually our situation was different, we needed a point or had to win or whatever. Both times it worked out for us and tonight it worked out as well, but Napoli deserve the first place in the group. No regrets.

On Trent Alexander-Arnold’s battle with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia...

He’s a good player. Both are good players, so it’s a really difficult one. I know people will talk about one or two situations when Trent tried to be in front of him and the ball goes through. But he is really good, the boy, and really quick and you have to defend him together in these moments. When he has the advantage of the first movement then he is already gone. You have to try to be there in the moment when the ball arrives, but if you cannot do that then you need to be protected because he has speed, he is cheeky, he goes inside, he can go outside, that makes it always really difficult. A good player and I thought Trent played a really good game against him, he was really on fire, he was really in, didn’t get frustrated by one or two situations where he was second-best, stayed in the game and I liked Trent’s game tonight.

On who he would like to face in the last-16 draw...

We are not in dreamland. I couldn’t care in the moment, really. I can wait until Monday.

On returning to a 4-3-3 formation...

It’s the system we played most often, it’s the system which is familiar to us when we played well and we can defend better in that system. We didn’t do that that often when we played it recently, [so] that’s why we had to change a couple of things – to give the boys a few new things to think about, a few new [pieces] of information and all these kind of things. It was always on the table for us; it doesn’t mean we will play it from now on all the time. Darwin came on and offensively it’s not a problem, there is no difference to a diamond really, but defensively it is a big difference and we just have to figure out what is best for us when which players are playing.

I thought Curtis did extremely well, to be honest – he did really well. We had Fabio [Carvalho] who can play there as well in the league maybe. [Alex] Oxlade[-Chamberlain] is now ready for the league as well, so we have a couple of players who can play there. But no decision made, we will see what we will do against Tottenham, but it was never off the table this system, it was just that we had to change a little bit, to give ourselves a new impulse and to feel the defending stuff again in a new way. That’s sometimes how it works. We had good games in the other system, especially in the Champions League, where we played really well in a 4-4-2, for example. That’s the only positive thing that happened so far in the season, that we played and won in different systems. Not often enough, but at least a couple of times.

Published 1st November 2022