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5 things we learned from Jurgen Klopp’s pre-Atletico press conference

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Jurgen Klopp lauded Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in his pre-Atletico Madrid press conference, also being wary of the threat the La Liga champions pose.

Here are five key things from Klopp’s press conference from Kirkby.


More praise for Mo

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the fourth goal, the eighth consecutive game he's scored in, during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Salah is in the form of his life, scoring in eight matches in a row and being widely considered the world’s best footballer.

Klopp even talked up the 29-year-old’s chances of winning the Ballon d’Or next month, admitting he would give him the prestigious award:

“I have no idea how you win the Ballon d’Or – if it is about being in a Champions League final and scoring goals then it might be difficult. But if it’s about performances over several years, then yes.”

Lionel Messi is the odds-on favourite after winning Copa America this summer, but Salah would be a more than deserving winner.

On Salah’s contract situation, though, he was less unequivocal, simply saying: “I don’t know, we will see.”

 

Jones misses out again

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Curtis Jones during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was hoped that Curtis Jones would be available for the game, having missed the Watford match, but that won’t be the case.

Despite being seen in training, Klopp confirmed that the 20-year-old would not travel to Spain with the squad, working on his recovery from a muscle problem at home instead.

It looks likely that Jones will be in contention for Sunday’s vital Premier League clash with Man United at Old Trafford.

That could mean a midfield-three of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita against Atletico, with the former coming in for James Milner.

 

Klopp wary of Atletico threat

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 11, 2020: Club Atlético de Madrid's head coach Diego Simeone during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético de Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp is yet to beat Atletico as Liverpool manager, losing in both legs of the Champions League last-16 clash back in 2019/20.

The German is under no illusions about how difficult Tuesday’s task will be, against arguably Europe’s best defensive team:

“If you win both games against Atletico then it’s pretty likely you go through! But we lost both last time. I’m a very positive person but not that positive that we already have them in our pocket. It’s a tough place to go.

Klopp did admit that he struggles to warm to their style of play, though:

“I couldn’t respect it more. Do I like it? Not really but that’s just me. It just has to be successful and that’s what they are. Atletico again look like the possible La Liga champion.”

 

Much-changed opponents

NANNING, CHINA - Friday, March 23, 2018: Uruguay's Luis Suárez during the 2018 Gree China Cup International Football Championship match between Uruguay and Czech Republic at the Guangxi Sports Centre. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp also believes this is a different type of opponent to the one that eliminated Liverpool before COVID struck:

“They have changed since then so we face a different but not a weaker Atletico. They were Spanish champions last season – it is not an easy thing to do. They know how to win games.

[…]

“Yes Atletico are different with a new system and new players. That’s a pretty special team but they are the results-machine they were before.

“It is incredible how Diego keeps them on their toes, so there is no criticism from me.”

Victory would be a major statement of intent by Liverpool, making them huge favourites to reach the knockout stages.

 

Bobby the “connector” hailed

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the third goal, the second of his hat-trick, during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Firmino bagged a hat-trick at Watford on Saturday, picking up further confidence after a hit-and-miss 18 months or so.

Klopp waxed lyrical over the Brazilian, however, making it very clear how important he remains moving forward:

“Bobby has been massive for our development of this team. He is a key player and the connector for all the key pieces on the pitch.

“I am never shy to praise him. If you forgot that, go back and listen. I say nice things about Bobby.”

“He got injured [in August] which wasn’t helpful but three goals at the weekend was great. He is our false nine but on top of that he is a very, very, very important player for us.”

Six goals in seven appearances this season certainly bodes well.

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