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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Klopp hopes for Champions League respite for struggling Liverpool

AFP , Monday 8 Mar 2021
Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (AP)
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes a change of competition will give his side a break from their wretched Premier League form that has put their chances of a top-four finish in jeopardy.

A sixth successive home league defeat, the latest to struggling Fulham on Sunday, left the Reds well adrift of Champions League qualification, having played more matches than the teams immediately above them.

On Wednesday they will play in Budapest again -- the "home" second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against RB Leipzig, holding a 2-0 lead.

Not playing at Anfield, due to coronavirus travel restrictions, could be a relief to Klopp following his team's dismal run.

"If we can go through, which is not guaranteed, then that could give confidence," said the German manager.

"Then we have Wolves, which is a tough one, and then we have a couple of weeks off because of the international break and all these kind of things.

"We have to use that time, we have to hope all the boys who go to their national teams come back healthy, like always.

"Then I think there are another nine or 10 games to go, sounds like 27 or 30 points, so a lot to go for and we will try."

Diogo Jota and Fabinho are both likely to start against Leipzig after returning from lengthy injury spells but Klopp does not believe his side will be able to recover the swagger they had over the past two seasons until everyone is fit again.

Captain Jordan Henderson should play again this season after groin surgery but centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have been ruled out of the remainder of the current campaign.

"For being the successful team again, for being the team we can be in the best possible way, of course we have to be complete," said Klopp, who led Liverpool to their first English top-flight title for 30 years last season.

James Milner, captaining the side in the absence of Henderson, said Liverpool, who were top of the table at Christmas, were letting their fans down.

"It definitely hurts," he told Sky Sports. "When you're playing for a club with the history of Liverpool, the history we've created as a group of players, the standards we've set, we're not hitting them at this moment in time and it's not good enough.

"It's disappointing and hard when you're letting the club down and letting the fans down.

"It's for us to keep pushing and dig ourselves out of the mess."

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