5 key things from Klopp’s pre-Villarreal press conference – with huge Thiago praise

Jurgen Klopp gave an injury update on Roberto Firmino and more praise for Naby Keita and Thiago ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League decider at Villarreal.

Here are five key things from Klopp’s pre-match press conference…


A reminder

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In a strange start to the press conference, it was put to Klopp whether he felt a 2-0 lead from the first leg was ‘job done’ for Liverpool.

“When I was younger I would have been really angry now,” he replied, “because of the question!”

Klopp added: “If it would be a cup game, only one game and it would be decided and we would have to go to Villarreal, we would try to win there.

“That’s what we want to try there. Knowing that they will go with all they have.”


What he expects from Villarreal

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Villarreal supporters during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Unai Emery made eight changes to his lineup for Villarreal’s clash with Alaves at the weekend, which resulted in a 2-1 defeat.

That effectively put his cards on the table for the second leg, with Klopp expecting a high-intensity approach from the hosts.

“We have to be ready to play a top, top, top, top game, because they will go for us,” he said.

“High press, they will try to play much more football than we allowed them in the first game.

“Because of changing eight players and two [only] playing 45 minutes, I’m pretty sure yesterday they had a normal session.

“So Unai will for sure try to adapt a few things to our style in this short spell. It will be really interesting, definitely.”


More praise for Keita

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 30, 2022: Liverpool's Naby Keita celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Keita has been one of the more polarising figures within Klopp’s squad ever since his big-money arrival from RB Leipzig.

But as he finds a consistency in fitness during the run-in, he has established himself as one of the form players for Liverpool – and a regular focus in press conferences.

“Long may that continue, because that’s crucial, that’s key to everything,” Klopp said on the shape his No. 8 is now in.

“If you have the talent and the skills of Naby Keita and you are not fit, then nobody sees it.

“If you then come back, not in the best possible shape, all these kinds of things, that’s normal, physically.

“The player was never in doubt for a second, because he’s outstanding.

“But no, it’s good that he is now available. It’s a good option, a very good option to have.

“He played on the weekend obviously a really good game, so we will see how often we will use him tomorrow.”


No Bobby…again

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 28, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. Leicester City won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wednesday will see Firmino miss his fifth consecutive game due to a foot injury, though Klopp provided an optimistic update on the striker’s fitness.

“Bobby is now running, so it’s OK,” he explained.

“I said it’s nothing serious, it’s not serious [but] very painful.

“[He has] a little strain on the middle foot bone – at least how we’d say in Germany. It’s very painful, each step, but he was running again today.

“He will travel with us, but will not be involved in the squad yet. But we hope sooner rather than later.”

Divock Origi is now back from illness, however, with “no concerns” among Klopp’s squad other than Firmino.


The highest priase for Thiago!

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 16, 2022: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara celebrates with the supporters after the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thiago is, undoubtedly, one of the best and most talented players in the Liverpool squad – and he is now showing it more consistently than he ever has for the club.

The 31-year-old has not been a regular feature for Spain over the past two years, though, and more recently he has been left out of Luis Enrique’s squad entirely.

But Klopp is in no doubt that, on current form, Thiago would be a key player for any club and any country.

“When Thiago is in the shape he is now, he would play in each team in the world and he would perform for Spain as well,” he said.

“It was just he had problems when he arrived here, he got injured.

“Spain obviously has a lot of options in midfield, because it’s an incredibly talented football team, but in the shape he is in the moment, he would play for each national team.

“Not only play for it, but would probably be the outstanding performer.

“That’s how it is. Like each person in the world, Thiago as well, he needs to be fit, needs to gain rhythm, needs to gain all the physical aspects and then he can show his best football.

“It’s nothing to do with playing for Spain or Liverpool or Bayern or whatever, it’s just when he is in the right place physically, then he would show everybody how good he is.”