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City semi-final & Mane’s absence – 4 key things from Klopp’s post-Forest presser

Jurgen Klopp reflected on a tough game at Nottingham Forest, a semi-final against Man City and his decision to leave Sadio Mane out of Liverpool’s 1-0 FA Cup win.

Here are four key things from Klopp’s pitchside press conference at the City Ground…

 

“Not everything they were shouting I liked”

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2022: 97 seats left empty in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster of 1989, pictured before the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As expected, it was a fierce atmosphere in the City Ground on Sunday night – though it was also a strange one, as the home supporters belted out “where’s your famous atmosphere?”

There were chants of “sign on” just two minutes in, while a section of fans resorted to “always the victims” towards the end, on a night when Forest left 97 seats empty in tribute to those who lost their lives to the Hillsborough tragedy.

Klopp seemingly acknowledged this, then, as he reflected on a largely positive atmosphere.

“It was an absolutely great atmosphere. They were quite competitive,” he said.

“Not everything they were shouting I liked, but the noise was absolutely outstanding.”

 

Fingers crossed for Jota

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2022: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Diogo Jota scored the only goal of the game to clinch progress to the semi-finals, in a typically enigmatic performance from the No. 20.

The Portuguese struggled throughout, but was there to touch home Kostas Tsimikas‘ cross and net his career-best 19th goal of the season with two months left to play.

Like many of Klopp’s squad, Jota will now head off on international duty, and the manager is hoping his in-form striker returns fit.

“What a player, what a boy. This goal was exceptional,” he said.

“It was a good cross from Kostas, a good ball, but he had to stretch the body to reach it. Scoring that goal was obviously massive.

“After injury he needed a little bit to get back on track, but now I hope he’s really coming back healthy from international duty, because he looks like he is better.”

 

That semi-final against City

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2022: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara after the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With the semi-final draw taking place before kickoff, it was either Crystal Palace, Chelsea or Man City for the winners at the City Ground – and, obviously, City were drawn from the hat.

That sets up a second clash with Pep Guardiola’s side in a week, with Klopp reflecting on a busy April full of “massive games.”

Watford, Benfica, City, Benfica, City, United, Everton,” he counted.

“From a Liverpool perspective, these are all massive games. We try to play them once at a time and not all together.

“I don’t think we are the dream draw for anybody, but it will be a tough one. We have to make sure that it will be a tough one for City as well.

“But there are a lot of games to play before that.”

 

The reason Mane missed out!

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 13, 2022: Liverpool's Sadio Mané during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp made seven changes for the trip to Nottingham, with Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah dropping out of the squad entirely along with Mane.

While it transpires that Robertson has tested positive for Covid and Salah is struggling with an ongoing injury, the manager suggested that Mane did not travel so as to not be seen as favouring Egypt ahead of their World Cup playoff against Senegal.

This came after a bizarre uproar among Africa fans and journalists after Klopp ironically referred to the Africa Cup of Nations as a “little tournament.”

“Mo felt the foot again, from the Brighton game. Not massive, but it was clear he would not be in a game like this if he would have a little bit of pain here or there. There is no chance,” he said.

“Then, in that moment, it was clear that we would not use Sadio for the game.

“Because the game is too big in Africa and I will not be twice the one who does things like that which could be misunderstood.

“The others were all unavailable. Mo was unavailable, only Sadio we left out.”

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