Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp did not expect ‘holiday game’ in Champions League
With a rubber Champions League tie in its middle, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp could have done with nine games in December to give his players a tiny breather.
That might have been the situation if the defending champions had conquered Napoli on Wednesday however a below-par functionality saw them need to settle for a 1-1 draw at Anfield, and the possibility of heading to Salzburg on 10 December needing a result to guarantee their progression into the last 16.
Saturday’s home game against Brighton is first of 10 but Klopp doesn’t believe his side were going to get the luxury of having the ability to drop their intensity during that run of fixtures.
“I am four years tell me as it had been simple,” he said after Wednesday’s game.
“I know just how human beings really are, folks wished we could complete the group tonight and have a holiday match against Salzburg however, it never happens, it will never happen.
“That’s the situation.”
There’s not any doubt the Red Bull Salzburg game is a fixture that is massive if Liverpool will be to retain hope of defending their title.
A draw will ensure their progression but that will be easier said than done against a Salzburg facet that came back from 3-0 down to level 3-3 in Anfield earlier this year, until Mohamed Salah’s strike got the Reds.
Salzburg have won eight of the 10 home games this season – scoring five goals or more in seven of those games.
It is a daunting prospect, while the final home game ended in a 2-2 draw with St 34, although their form will provide hope with Napoli winning 3-2 there in October.
“If we have aspirations at the Champions League we have to show it Salzburg,” Klopp said.
“Until then we must reveal our aspirations in the Premier League.”
Liverpool can go through with a defeat in that game, but could be reliant on Napoli losing at home to Genk, who have one point in five matches.
The next few months are arguably the biggest in Liverpool’s season.
They could come from December champions, at the Champions League and with their Premier League benefit that is healthful – now eight points – undamaged.
Or, if exhaustion and injuries take their toll, and they could be out of the league benefit may be a little less comfortable and the Champions League.
“This period’s massive and it defines everything about Liverpool’s year,” said former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher, who had been Radio 5 Live co-commentator in Anfield on Wednesday.
“They have put themselves in an unbelievable position in the team, we know how good they’re in the Champions League and they wish to win against the Club World Cup.
“If Liverpool don’t handle their players nicely they can wind up dropping things, picking up accidents.”
More concerning compared to Liverpool’s failure to get a win and also sew up Group E on Wednesday was that the injury to Fabinho.
The powerful midfielder limped off in the Reds of the first half never obtained a foothold in following his departure on the game.
Asked about the severity of Fabinho’s injury, Klopp explained:”I really don’t understand , he has pain and that is not good. He couldn’t continue.
“I really don’t wish to state what I anticipate because I expect it is not that serious.”
Former Liverpool defender and pundit Mark Lawrenson explained an protracted absence for Fabinho within this period could be a blow for the Reds.
“I think Fabinho’s probably the only real midfield player they’ve got,” he explained.
“He does a little of everything and people say,’well, [Jordan] Henderson may do that’, but he can’t do it too as Fabinho.
“Fabinho is arguably among the best players this season, for Liverpool definitely. It’ll be a struggle to replace him.”