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“No-one will want us” – Robertson on Liverpool’s fear factor across Europe

Defender Andrew Robertson believes Liverpool’s reputation in the Champions League is so fearsome no-one will want to face them in the knockout stages.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have reached a European final in three of the four seasons he has been at the club, starting with the Europa League in 2016 and then back-to-back appearances in the elite competition culminating with a sixth European Cup in June.

Having booked a last-16 spot as group winners after a 2-0 win over RB Salzburg in Austria, the club head into the new year eyeing a third successive Champions League final.

And Robertson believes none of their opponents will want to be pitted against them in Monday’s draw in Nyon.

“We respect every opponent we play but we know the way we have done things in the last two years and nobody wants to play against us and that is clear – but it is up to us to keep proving that,” said the Scotland captain.

“We cannot rely on that and we need to keep proving why people don’t want to play against us but, so far, we have done that.

“We will wait for the draw and see who we get in the last 16. We know it will be tough regardless but we look forward to the challenge as we want to go far in this tournament again.”

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (#11) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate captain Jordan Henderson during the final UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have made a habit of making life tough on themselves in the group stage, having taken qualification to the final game for the last three years, but coming alive in the knockout phase.

It is that form which makes them such unenviable opposition, having beaten the likes of Bayern Munich, Roma, Manchester City and – most famously Barcelona in May over the last two seasons.

“That is the atmosphere we have created in the last two years, a team which has been to the final twice and has obviously lost one and won one and we are respected in this tournament,” Robertson added.

“Maybe the first season when we went to the final, I don’t think we were really respected until maybe after the quarter-final when we went to Porto and washed them away (winning 5-0 in Portugal).

“We did not get the respect we deserved. Now, we know we are respected in Europe. No-one will want us but everyone who gets into the last 16 will fancy themselves.

“Last year and the year before we have been excellent in the knockout stages and we have controlled games but we know that now, we are the champions and everyone wants to beat us.

“That is what we have to deal with and hopefully we can deal with it well. But there are about 40 games between now and the last 16 (in February) – so we will worry about that when the time comes.”

The win in Salzburg was seen as a breakthrough moment for midfielder Naby Keita, which could be considered strange for a player who is in his second season at the club.

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Liverpool's Naby Keita celebrates scoring the first goal during the final UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Injuries have meant the £52million signing in the summer of 2018 has been restricted to just 43 appearances, although he has marked starts in his last two games with a goal in each having found the net just three times in his previous 41 matches.

“Our squad is full of quality and unfortunately for Naby this season, he has picked up an injury which has kept him out a bit and he came back and the midfield has done so well,” said Robertson.

“But he has had an opportunity in the last two games and he has been excellent. He has added to our options and that is what we need to create.

“Naby replicates what this team is about. He was the man of the match on Saturday and again (against Salzburg) he was excellent. Long may that continue.”

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