Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp urges ‘all or nothing’ approach against Spartak

• Manager describes last game of Champions League group as ‘a proper final’
• If Liverpool avoid defeat at Anfield they will qualify for the knockout stage

Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool must take an “all or nothing” approach to their Champions League showdown with Spartak Moscow and that qualification for the last 16 would signify progress at Anfield.

Liverpool need to avoid defeat at home against the Russian champions on Wednesday to guarantee a place in the knockout stage. Victory would seal first place – even a defeat will suffice for qualification if Sevilla lose at Maribor – and Klopp insists it is unrealistic to expect his prolific side to play for a draw against a Spartak team who must win to advance.

“It is a proper final, all or nothing,” the Liverpool manager said. “We know about the situation. They know the situation. It is Champions League. It is always important but the last game of the group stage is most important if you have to play for something, which we obviously have. It is exciting. All or nothing means you can either win or you lose. We know we can draw but this information is only useful after the game. We cannot play for that and we do not want to.”

Liverpool last reached the knockout phase of the Champions League in 2008-09, when they thrashed Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate, beating them 1-0 away and 4-0 at home, before losing to Chelsea in the quarter-finals. The club failed to qualify from their groups in 2009-10 and 2014-15 and Klopp says it will be another step in his team’s development to end that sequence against Spartak.

“It would be major progress,” he said. “I am not sure exactly when Liverpool last reached the knockout. Eight years? A long time. You only play the group stage as Liverpool to come through to the last 16. We all know if we do then we have a chance to reach the next round but first we have to make it. It is a tight group. We had some influence on that. We played good games and had good results but not enough points to go through already and now we have to finish the job.”

Klopp confirmed Liverpool’s defensive shortage had eased with Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez back in training after missing the 5-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday. Joël Matip remains sidelined with a thigh problem and Adam Lallana is unavailable as he continues to recover from long-term injury.

Klopp has apologised for annoying Chris Hughton but said a breach of managerial protocol, and not his touchline antics, prompted their fallout. Klopp admitted he upset Hughton by hugging Mohamed Salah before shaking the Brighton manager’s hand at the end of the match. “It was a misunderstanding, nothing else,” he said.


Andy Hunter

The GuardianTramp

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