Jurgen Klopp appears set to repeat his group stage risk of last season. It’s one that cost Liverpool in 2020.
Liverpool confirmed qualification from the Champions League group stage with a win over Atletico Madrid last night. The Reds ran out 2-0 winners thanks to a couple of first-half goals.
It’s the first time in Liverpool’s history that they’ve won the first four group-stage games. Their run is enough to not only qualify but win the group with two games to space, in fact.
Now for us, that makes this Liverpool’s greatest ever group-stage performance. Not only have they progressed with room to spare but they did so in a very tough group.
There are two games left with no real meaning for the team. Jurgen Klopp can afford to rotate over the rest of the group stage, then.
But will he?
Klopp on the Champions League group stage
“Forget that because we already qualified but all the rest is exactly like it was before,” said Klopp, per Liverpoolfc.com. “It is a Champions League game, the next one is at home, the game after that is at the San Siro and I’ve never played there, so I’m really excited about that.
“We will play at home [against Porto] and play real football. Can you imagine we play Porto at home, the crowd is really coming from all over the world to watch the games and then you offer, I don’t know, a half-cooked dish? That is pretty not much how it will be.
“We go for it, we want to win football games, that’s all. Sometimes you can qualify for something, sometimes not, it is still the same thing – you play a game, you want to win it, show it.”
Those comments will likely bring back fears from 2020. Liverpool qualified from last year’s group stage with a game to spare but still put out first-team stars in a dead-rubber vs FC Midtjylland.
And Diogo Jota got injured. His problem actually kept him out for around a month and right at a time when Liverpool struggled for goals. It was a nightmare scenario.
But it really sounds as though Klopp will somewhat repeat that risk in this group stage. He’s ready to put some stars out in the remaining games and while we can’t imagine he’ll go full-strength, we’re hardly going to see EFL Cup lineups, either.
Let’s hope Liverpool don’t pay a price for that this time around.