Klopp: Fab four can dominate in Europe

Sadio Mane Mohamed Salah Roberto Firmino Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick for Liverpool in the 7-0 Champions League win against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday. Sadio Mane scored twice while Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah had one apiece.
Sadio Mane Mohamed Salah Roberto Firmino Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick for Liverpool in the 7-0 Champions League win against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday. Sadio Mane scored twice while Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah had one apiece.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Sadio Mane Mohamed Salah Roberto Firmino Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick for Liverpool in the 7-0 Champions League win against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday. Sadio Mane scored twice while Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah had one apiece.
Sadio ManePHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Sadio Mane Mohamed Salah Roberto Firmino Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick for Liverpool in the 7-0 Champions League win against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday. Sadio Mane scored twice while Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah had one apiece.
Roberto FirminoPHOTO: REUTERS
Sadio Mane Mohamed Salah Roberto Firmino Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick for Liverpool in the 7-0 Champions League win against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday. Sadio Mane scored twice while Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah had one apiece.
SadiMohamed SalahPHOTO: REUTERS

Reds' 7-0 demolition of Spartak Moscow sends ominous warning to last-16 opponents

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool's formidable attacking quartet will strike fear throughout the Champions League after his team swept into the last 16 with a decisive 7-0 destruction of Spartak Moscow.

Philippe Coutinho, with the maiden hat-trick (fourth minute, 15th and 50th) of his Anfield career; Roberto Firmino (18th); Sadio Mane (47th, 76th) and Mohamed Salah (86th) were all on the scoresheet on Wednesday as Liverpool reached the knockout stage for the first time in nine years.

The Reds also became the highest-scoring English team in a Champions League group campaign with 23 goals, the second-highest ever, behind this season's Paris Saint-Germain side (25).

And Klopp admitted the attacking prowess of his "Fab Four" would intimidate every team in Europe, provided it is maintained.

"If we perform like this tonight, if we are that clinical, then yes we can (strike fear into opponents)," said the Liverpool manager, who also oversaw a 7-0 win away in Maribor .

"But we had the same players before and they didn't score and then it is not that we talk like this. That is not a criticism of the past. If we perform like this then we are obviously a threat, 100 per cent."

Wearing the captain's armband on a night when Jordan Henderson was relegated to the bench, Coutinho was nominally on the left in a 4-4-2 but frequently drifted inside, joining forces with Mane, Salah and Firmino.

  • 21 

    Goals Liverpool's Coutinho (5), Firmino (6), Salah (6), and Mane (4) have scored in this season's Champions League group stage.

    306 

    Total goals registered in this term's group stage. Coutinho's hat-trick goal eclipsed the previous tally of 292.

Injury has prevented them from being in tandem that often, but the devastating potential was seen in its full potency at Anfield.

Liverpool's second goal provided an illustration: Mane advanced down the right, slipping the ball to Salah, who timed his run with typical cunning, collecting the ball before turning it right to Firmino. Liverpool's No. 9 took a touch and then picked out the unmarked Coutinho, who drove the ball left-footed past Aleksandr Selikhov.

By the 86th minute, the quartet had taken their collective tally for the season to 47 goals.

"It's really difficult when we go to the next gear and use the space. It was nice to watch tonight," Klopp told BT Sport.

The victory ensured there will be a record five English sides in the last 16. The Premier League clubs - including Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur - will not be able to face each other.

Liverpool's prize for winning their group will be a last-16 tie against either Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk or holders Real Madrid.

"I think it's strange this year," Klopp said of the group stage, which produced a record total of 306 goals, eclipsing the previous mark of 292. "There are a lot of really strong teams in second place.

"Obviously all the teams in the last 16 are strong but this year is quite special. It's not often you can face Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Juve if you win your group."

Liverpool will find out their opponents in the draw on Monday but first there is the small matter of the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Everton might be sturdier opponents now that Sam Allardyce has been parachuted in to restore some sense of order on the other half of town but, on this evidence, Klopp's team will take some stopping.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp: Fab four can dominate in Europe'. Print Edition | Subscribe