Jurgen Klopp on ‘always changing’ plans ahead of busy month of Liverpool fixtures

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Jurgen Klopp has stressed the focus is on a crucial game against Napoli, rather than looking ahead to a busy December including nine fixtures.

Victory at Anfield on Wednesday night would guarantee progress to the last 16 of the Champions League, and would do so in style as Group E winners.

That would, in turn, ensure the trip to Salzburg on December 10 would effectively serve as a dead rubber, sandwiched between clashes with Bournemouth and Watford in the Premier League—arguably, the Reds’ focus.

Next month will see Liverpool play nine times, including two fixtures at the Club World Cup in Qatar and another at Aston Villa in the League Cup which will already see an academy side fielded.

And with midweek offering a chance to lighten the load during the festive period, Klopp has insisted it would be his side’s “biggest mistake” to underestimate the occasion as group leaders.

“The biggest mistake we could maybe think about if we’ve already won it already, what would happen if we win it,” he told reporters.

“If we win it we have to think about all the other things, that’s the target actually but it’s the same for Napoli.

“[If] Napoli wins the game, they are through as well, and we are not—probably not—that’s how it is.

“So all these things are not really in our mind.

“There are two weeks between tomorrow night and the Salzburg game, three games in between. Why should I think about the Salzburg game then? There’s not reason for it really.

“Tomorrow night of course we try to win that game, which would be massive for us for different reasons: after the start we had in the group, that we could do that.

“But we don’t feel like we are halfway through, it’s really difficult.

“Napoli, with all the things that even here everybody could read about, is a very, very dangerous opponent tomorrow night, very strong.

“They won last year against us at Napoli when we were really bad, this year against us when we were not bad, but not good enough to win the game.

“And they gave us a proper fight when we played them here at Anfield [last season], so that’s what they will do tomorrow night as well.

“So that’s all I’m thinking about, not about the games after that.”

Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team-mate Virgil van Dijk during the UEFA Champions League match at Anfield, Liverpool.

Klopp is likely to name a familiar lineup against Napoli at Anfield, with James Milner and the injured Joel Matip the only likely absentees from the side that lost 2-0 in Italy in September.

With Dejan Lovren filling in at the back and Gini Wijnaldum preferred in the big-game midfield, the Reds are expected to opt for stability and proven quality, but over the festive period there are no guarantees.

The manager was asked whether he is able to plan for the weeks ahead of terms of training and his lineup, and he conceded it is an ever-changing process.

“We have plans for everything, as you can imagine, and we change them constantly,” he said.

“I have two smartphones, and when one of them is ringing it’s really rare there is good news.

“Nobody phones to tell you the player is fine or whatever, you only get the messages and stuff like this when a player is not fine.

“So then we have to make new plans, and we don’t know exactly how many players we have to train.

“We know in the long term what we have to do, that’s all set.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Liverpool's players during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between KRC Genk and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jons

“The athletic part of the session obviously we try to adapt to the specific situation of the players.

“The tactical things depend of course on the games we’ve played, what we have to make clear again, what we have to work on, where we have to put the focus on.

“So that’s it, that’s our life. It always leads to one highlight, and that’s the next game.

“That’s what we try, we try to do as much as possible but not too much in the sessions, just so the players are as fresh as possible in the games. That’s the job.”

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