Complacency has been a killer for Liverpool throughout their Champions League campaign, but going in to the final match of the Group Stages, the Reds need to only draw with Sparktak Moscow when they visit Anfield tomorrow to secure their place in the knock-out round of Europe’s most important club competition.
“[It is] the game – it’s the game because we are only part of the Champions League because we want to go to the next round,” explained Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, his priorities perfectly in line with those of Kopites around the world. “It’s very important. I think we are stronger than we were when we played them, but they are stronger as well,” mused the German, knowing the job isn’t done quite yet. “They are in a good moment in the league, they have important players back, very important players offensive back, so it will be an exciting game and that’s how the Champions League should be.”
It goes all the way back to their very first match of the group — Liverpool twice ran out draws with Sevilla when they should have won and having dominated the first leg against Spartak in Russia, they could only share the spoils with their hosts as their misfiring attack came up short away from home. Bagging five against Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend, that’s no longer the case with the Reds front three running rampant. All said, the Anfield outfit has found the net a staggering 15-times in their last five matches in all competitions and they’ll be hoping to that impressive tally tomorrow.
While sealing a spot in the next round is of the utmost importance, Klopp will also have to keep in mind that we’ve got the Merseyside Derby coming up on the weekend. Everton, of course, have struggled this season, but they’ve been back on the up since naming Sam Allardyce as the permanent successor to the sacked Ronald Koeman. The Toffees have European commitments of their own on Thursday when they play out a dead rubber with Apollon Limassol in the Europa League, but having already been eliminated from the competition, Allardyce will almost certainly fluff this one off as he looks to keep his squad fresh for the short trip across Stanley Park on Sunday.
Klopp, with something to play for, doesn’t have the same luxury.
“I don’t have the resources to think about the game on Sunday already. We have enough time after tomorrow night to think about that and we will be prepared then for that game,” stressed the Reds boss. “I don’t believe in this kind of influence. We want to go through, we have the chance to do it, so we will not hesitate to line up our best team – as we did always so far,” continued Klopp, putting thoughts of the derby off to one side. “We will prepare this game, we will line up for the game tomorrow night and we cannot line up for the derby as well in the same moment.”