Klopp on team selection for Porto, Minamino form and Morton’s progress

Q&AKlopp on team selection for Porto, Minamino form and Morton’s progress

Published 23rd November 2021

Jürgen Klopp touched on a number of topics during his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League encounter with FC Porto.

Matchday five sees the Reds host the Portuguese side at Anfield, with top spot in Group B already secure thanks to four victories in the opening four contests. 

Klopp previewed this latest fixture on Tuesday afternoon by answering questions from journalists via video link – read a summary of what he had to say… 

On his team selection and the fitness of Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson... 

We always respect the competition but we have to think about ourselves, our schedule and the situation of our players first. Hendo, we will see. Yesterday, I would say he was maybe not at 100 per cent. So he can play, he can do pretty much everything but it's really being at 100 per cent fit. So I thought when he came on against Arsenal it was just to see the game out and controlling a little bit – that was exactly actually what he had to do from the rehab point of view, so he used these few minutes. But now we have to see. I don’t know 100 per cent. 

Robbo, similar. Both are OK, but are both now ready to play, ready to start with the schedule, with games coming up? We have to make these decisions. We didn't make these decisions yet because, how we all know, in this time of the season the medical department has a big hand in line-ups. So we will see. But whatever line-up we will show tomorrow night, it is only about winning the game and winning this game, and winning the next and winning the next, all these kind of things. That’s what we are here for. So, we will see.

We know that our opponent will be motivated on the highest level for two main reasons. One is we won there in a way which they didn’t like for sure. And on the other hand, if they win the game tomorrow night they have a final against Atletico on the last matchday of the group, so that's what they want, that's clear. It will be a difficult game for us. I really hope that everybody at Anfield is absolutely at their best because we only show up tomorrow because we want to try to win the game. That's Champions League, you can never take these things for granted and I hope nobody is doing that. We need to be ready as a whole, altogether we need to be ready to put a proper fight out there. In the moment I am pretty positive that we can do that.

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On how difficult a game it is to prepare for and whether it's the best form any of the team have ever been in... 

Let's start with [question] No.2: No, I don't think so. From a goalscoring point of view, maybe. It's good. The boys have quality, the boys have desire, the boys are ruthless, all these kind of things. But again, we don't take these things for granted because it's so tricky to create a chance in football on this level. It's just we have to keep doing that. But we need to find a rhythm obviously between scoring and not conceding and stuff like this. That's always a challenge, of course, and we try to do that as well, that's an ongoing process. First part of the question: Was it difficult to prepare? No. When you sign a contract for LFC as a manager and as a player, pretty much you have to win all games. Each game you play, everybody expects that. It means there is a lot of pressure on your shoulders and that’s a little difference that we don't have to win the game tomorrow, but we want to win the game tomorrow – we can show how that looks, to be honest. I really hope that it gives us the freedom to play but keeps the desire to defend and all these kind of things. We will see tomorrow. We all know in our Champions League history since I am here we usually fight until the last second of the last game of the group stage to get somehow through the group. It's the only difference and it’s not in my mind really – but I know it's a difference. It's just we try to win the football game tomorrow night and hopefully we can do.

On Takumi Minamino...

He played for Japan in the last few games because he is in a great shape, that's how it is. That helps always when you want to start football games for club and country. He's in exceptional shape, we knew that and that’s why it’s important for us. I knew before the game that Taki is pretty much our first option for changing on five positions for the Arsenal game. That says a lot because he can play all these different positions. When he came on, it was just a wonderful moment, 40-odd seconds on the pitch and scoring the goal. From that moment on, you can see his confidence now, with how the confidence grew in the last few months and how good a player he is. I'm really pleased for him, really. He will get his minutes, definitely.

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On whether last season's game at FC Midtjylland plays on his mind in regards to team selection…

It is really easy to sit there where you sit or where all the people who judge us in this moment sit and say, 'Leave him out, leave him out.' We leave them all out and we play with a team which is not a Champions League team – we don’t have enough players for that, by the way – and then nobody can get injured. The first question was how much we respect the integrity of the competition. So, it is so easy to sit in your chair and ask these kind of questions, to be honest. We have to line up a team who has a chance to win the football game. The Diogo situation was very unlucky and I hated it that I made the decision. But would I have done the decision the same again? That's the only question I have to answer. Yes, because you need stability. We cannot play football games like with this line-up and then next game [a] line-up who no chance to win a game and then bring them back again. Players need rhythm, all these kind of things. So really, that you only bring it up, I don’t think it’s fair that you bring up this old story that a player got injured. They all can get injured. Do I make the decision who I don't care if he gets injured with the line-up tomorrow night? No, I can’t and I will not. These things happen in football and hopefully nothing happens tomorrow.

On Tyler Morton's progress this season...

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow night but the progress from Tyler Morton is pretty impressive. So Tyler had a full pre-season with us. In the pre-season, he was one of the kids we had in the pre-season with us. You could see his technical skills and all these kind of things. But how well-educated and well-behaved young people are, he was not overly confident, let me say it like that. He tried to adapt a little bit to what the first team is doing and you could see that. In the games he was good, not spectacular, but good. Then we had the game against Norwich, where he came on in the second half and played a super game, to be honest, and that made all the difference. You could see the next day how the confidence level exploded overnight. Pep and Vitor knew him before very well, that's why he was with us pre-season. But I saw then after that game for the first time the real Tyler Morton 2021. Then he plays the Preston game, obviously a really good performance, really mature, all these kind of things. You can see that in training again. That’s how development with young players works. It’s a really good example. You can speak a lot about these boys and you can let them train with us, but bringing them then in a game in the right moment has the biggest impact from all the things you can do to help them. Tyler is a really good example for that. He's in a good place, I would say, in the moment and I'm pretty sure he would give the same answer. Now, let’s work from here.

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Coming up on BT Sport... 

  • November 24: Liverpool v Porto
  • December 7: AC Milan v Liverpool
  • December 16: Liverpool v Newcastle United
  • December 26: Liverpool v Leeds United 
Published 23rd November 2021