LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 7, 2023: Liverpool's Thiago Alcântara (R) embraces Wolverhampton Wanderers' manager Julen Lopetegui after the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Julen Lopetegui insists Wolves need to be “close to perfection” to beat Liverpool

Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui accepts his side will have to produce a near-perfect performance to get a positive result against Liverpool at Anfield.

The teams are set to meet for the fourth time this season on Wednesday night, having also played twice in the FA Cup after their third-round tie went to a replay.

Wolves fought out a 2-2 draw on their last visit to Anfield in the cup during January and Lopetegui feels it will take another strong showing to continue their Premier League progress.

“This is the fourth match we play against them, but all three of the matches were different,” said the Spanish coach, who watched his side beat the Reds 3-0 at Molineux at the start of February.

“We have to be ready for a new match knowing the strengths of the team we have in front of us.”

Lopetegui told a press conference: “This is going to demand from us our best, because to be able to compete with Liverpool at Anfield you have to be very close to perfection.

“It is going to be demanding. Anfield is a stadium where they push a lot.

“I have seen the last match they played against Real Madrid. They have made a fantastic first half and they deserved a lot more, but this is football.

“Tomorrow I am sure we are going to find a good team and a good environment, so we have to be ready.”

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 4, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (C) shoots wide during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds saw their Champions League hopes left hanging by a thread after Real Madrid, one of Lopetegui’s former clubs, recovered from 2-0 down to run out 5-2 winners.

Liverpool followed that up with a goalless draw at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Lopetegui, though, fully expects Jurgen Klopp‘s side to produce a response back in front of their own fans.

“I do not put focus on what position the opponent is in, I put the focus on what kind of team we are going to play,” the Wolves boss said.

“I am sure we are going to be playing against one of the best teams in the world, with fantastic players and a fantastic coach.

“Tomorrow we are going to be demanding, so the most important thing is to put the focus in our answer – that we are able to make a good match in all the phases.”

Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui gestures on the touchline during the Premier League match at Ashton Gate, Birmingham. Picture date: Wednesday January 4, 2023.

Lopetegui confirmed Matheus Cunha had escaped a serious ankle problem after the Brazilian forward was forced off during the second half of the draw at Fulham last Friday night.

“He doesn’t have a big injury, but he was more or less difficult [to train] in these five days and tomorrow we are going to make a decision,” said Loptegui.

“It depends if he is better, but I don’t know if it will be enough. It is not serious, fortunately, and now we must learn if he is able to play.”

Forward Pedro Neto could return to the squad after his ankle issue, but midfielder Boubacar Traore has picked up a fresh groin problem having returned to training following surgery.

“Pedro is working better and day by day he feels better,” Lopetegui said.

“He is closer to starting to help us. We are happy for him and maybe we will see him [involved at Liverpool].”