With a mammoth game ahead at Man City, Jurgen Klopp had plenty to discuss ahead of the clash – one that he is still not calling a title decider.
Here are five key points from the manager ahead of Sunday’s huge game:
It’s the news that you can never tire of hearing, that a FULL squad remains available to Klopp this weekend.
The Reds escaped unscathed from the midweek trip to Benfica, with the manager confirming “everyone is available again,” meaning he has a big selection headache on his hands.
The biggest of which will be who makes up the front three?! We’re spoilt for choice and he really can’t go wrong.
Not a title decider
It’s hard to escape the permutations at the Etihad, and while Klopp knows exactly what they are he was still not prepared to label the clash as a title decider.
“I cannot decide what people think, but we can go through possible results: if we win, we are two points up. And everyone who thinks it is done and dusted, I cannot help.
“If we lose we are four points behind. If anyone thinks that’s it, I cannot change it, but I know nobody from a City point of view would think like that. If it’s a draw, one point behind. That’s it.
“A very important game, I’m really looking forward to it, one of the biggest challenges you can face in football.
“We qualified for this game with the work we have done this season. We will give it a try, that’s all I can say.”
Downplaying comments on Salah
After the win at Benfica, Klopp touched on the fact that Mohamed Salah has been affected by “all the stories” and while many inferred it extended to contract talks, he looked to downplay those comments.
“[The comments] were after the game, I know. I didn’t know about the stories around him,” Klopp explained.
“It just was the stories what I thought of being out [of AFCON and World Cup], intensity, playing 120 minutes six times – that is what I thought, not the stories that were written.
“I didn’t even know what was written.”
Fatigue is no surprise considering he has played more than 4,500 minutes for club and country so far this season, but here’s hoping he comes alive again at City.
It was ironic!
After Pep Guardiola spoke ironically of the criticism pointed his way for overthinking tactics, his words were presented back to Klopp but without their intended meaning, which the manager wanted to clear up.
“You all [reporters] have a responsibility on this planet, if you want to talk to us, then do us a favour and help us.
“He said ironically, ‘I overthink things, I like overthinking things’.
“Pep is the best coach in the world, I think we would all agree with that.
“It may be a coincidence that it didn’t work out so far in the Champions League, but if anybody doubts him, I have no idea how that could happen.”
This game has long been on the horizon and it has been hard to look anywhere else, and now the time has come and there is no questioning the focus of Klopp’s side.
“I’m not worried about the mentality of my boys, immediately after the game it was clear: now it is City time.
“We will not play the 5-5 [as Atletico did], there may be moments they force us,” he joked, “but from a football view completely different – both played Tuesday, plenty of time to recover and prepare.