Reds look for Euro progress ahead of League Cup final

LONDON • Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has insisted he will not be viewing today's Europa League clash with Augsburg as an unwelcome distraction despite the game coming less than 72 hours before the League Cup final.

Klopp has the chance to lift his first trophy as Anfield boss at Wembley on Sunday, but he is keen for European progress as well.

The last-32 tie against the Germans remains finely poised after last week's first leg in Bavaria ended goalless, so Liverpool need to be especially wary not to concede an away goal.

A strong Liverpool side took to the field in the first leg and Klopp hinted later that a similar line-up would run out for the return.

"A strong team in second leg? Yes. I think so, maybe it's a different team, but we should not think too much about the final," said the former Borussia Dortmund coach.

Augsburg travel to Anfield missing a host of players due to injury, with midfielder Markus Feulner their seventh player sidelined.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas is confident the clean sheet kept in the first leg tees them up nicely for the return game.

"When you don't concede away from home, it's good," he told Liverpoolfc.com. "We have to approach it with confidence and hopefully get through to the next round because we want to challenge for this tournament."

Liverpool have also taken the League Cup seriously. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet believes victory over Manchester City this weekend could instigate a period of sustained success for Klopp, similar to the trophy-laden spell Jose Mourinho enjoyed in his first stint at Chelsea. It was Chelsea's 3-2 win over the Anfield side in 2005 that set Mourinho on course to become the club's most decorated manager.

"I remember for Chelsea a few years back, it was the League Cup they won and after that, they managed to win a lot of trophies," the Belgian told Sky Sports. "It gives everybody a confidence boost when you win your first trophy for a long time,"

Mourinho won three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and the League Cup twice more in his two spells at Stamford Bridge and if Klopp's team were to prevail on Sunday, it would end Liverpool's four-year wait for silverware.

The Merseyside club's last major honour was the League Cup they won under Kenny Dalglish in 2012.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

LIVERPOOL V AUGSBURG
Singtel TV Ch112 & StarHub Ch212, tomorrow, 1.55am.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'Reds look for Euro progress ahead of League Cup final'. Print Edition | Subscribe