Jurgen Klopp has welcomed Pep Guardiola’s praise of his Liverpool side, but insists the odds remain balanced ahead of Thursday night’s clash with Man City.
The Reds head to the Etihad seven points clear of their title rivals, after capitalising on a pair of defeats for City to ensure their status as favourites in the Premier League.
Speaking ahead of their do-or-die meeting, Guardiola described Liverpool as “maybe the best team in Europe or the world right now,” and while the Spaniard spoke sincerely, this could mount the pressure on Klopp’s squad.
But previewing their trip to Manchester in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Klopp stressed that nothing has changed between Liverpool and City.
“It’s one of the most difficult games you can play in the modern football world, away at City,” he explained.
“We felt plenty of times it’s a really strong football team with an outstanding manager, and that’s how it is.
“We have to be prepared as good as possible, be brave, full of desire, angry again, all that stuff like in all the other games.
“But with the knowledge that the opponent is, for me, still the best in the world.
“I don’t say that to say it, I said it weeks ago, it’s 100 percent my opinion.
“Because of the way they play, all the things they have achieved, the things they will achieve.
“Nothing changed, only the points changed, but not the preparation for the game.”
It is impossible to ignore the progress Liverpool have made this season, however, as they preside over their best-ever start at this stage of the campaign, undefeated in 20 league games.
Naturally, they are being backed to secure another three points at the Etihad, which would give them a huge boost in their pursuit of the title.
But while Klopp praised his side for their efforts so far, and conceded they are “very excited” for Thursday’s game, he maintained that they must avoid the media hype and keep their focus.
“We are in a good moment, 100 percent,” he acknowledged.
“We have a very, very, very good football team as well, that’s why we have the amount of points, the results, but we prepare for one game.
“Would I say they are the best team in the world if nobody asked me? No. But we talk about it [in the media].
“It sounds like we have to go there and we are the more likely to win the game than them, that’s just not true.
“A big part of the football world is talking about it before it happens. We are there to let it happen.
“We are in a normal [mood], very excited because it’s an interesting game we have to play.
“We’re looking forward to it, but apart from that it’s a normal situation.”
Interestingly, Klopp went on to detail how he feels the attitude has changed in the Liverpool dressing room this season, highlighting the road to the Champions League final as key.
“I see their attitude, in the right mood and all that stuff, in the games and in the training sessions,” he added.
“We are all individuals but there’s nothing to talk about in the case of something going in the wrong direction.
“But results and performances give confidence, that’s how it is, and we’ve had results and really good performances.
“And the boys have the quality. I always said, as long as we mix up our potential with attitude, it will be quality.
“That’s how it is and that’s what the boys showed so far and what we have to do again.
“We finally got rid of the ‘backpack’ when we reached the Champions League final. We didn’t win it, yes, but not 20 teams in the past have reached the Champions League final.
“That was the moment when the boys did something really special, we didn’t win it but the ride there was unbelievable. Since then it feels different, that’s true.”
Buoyed by a positive summer of signings, the Reds have built momentum since Kyiv, and as Klopp rightly points out, should take to the field against City confident in their own abilities.