Jurgen Klopp hopes to avoid a ‘final’ in the Champions League group after Atletico Madrid. Liverpool host the Spanish champions tomorrow.
This always looked like a tough Champions League group but Liverpool are storming it. They’ve won three out of three and host Atletico Madrid tomorrow.
Beat Diego Simeone’s side and Liverpool actually qualify. It would put them eight points clear of Atletico and at least 10 ahead of AC Milan.
That would be enough, then. Liverpool would be through to the knockout stages and, in all likelihood, as group winners.
One person who would particularly like that is Jurgen Klopp. The Liverpool boss says he’s keen to avoid a ‘final’ like recent years.
Three years ago, for instance, Liverpool went into the final game against Napoli needing a positive result. They got it – just.
They scraped first place in the last two years, too, and things haven’t been as comfortable as Liverpool would have liked. But perhaps that can change this year.
Klopp hopes win vs Atletico avoids ‘final’ in group
“Of course it would be big [to qualify with two games left],” said Klopp, per Liverpoolfc.com.
“It’s just that we usually don’t have to talk about these kinds of things because we usually have a final in the group and I hope that will not happen this year like with the last matchday of the group stage when we need a 1-0 or something like and it is not allowed the opponent scores at all.
“Of course, we want to avoid that but we cannot make the second step before the first step – and the first step is to win against Atletico and that’s already difficult enough.”
It would certainly benefit Liverpool to avoid some crunch games in the group. The Reds host Arsenal four days before Porto, for instance – it would be nice to focus entirely on the Gunners.
Though, fans will point to last year where Liverpool didn’t have a group ‘final’ but started Diogo Jota against FC Midtjylland anyway. The forward picked up a long-term injury in that game.
You’d hope the club learned their lesson, though. Qualifying early could be a big boost to Premier League form over the next few months, allowing for extra rotation.
And with midfielders dropping like flies, that could be vital.