Football: Liverpool's Klopp relishing return to Germany

BERLIN (AFP) - Juergen Klopp returns to Germany for the first time as Liverpool coach on Thursday hunting a Europa League win at Augsburg in his quest to quench the Reds' thirst for silverware.

Klopp returns to the sidelines at a Bundesliga ground for the first time since the 48-year-old quit Borussia Dortmund last season, then replaced Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool coach in October.

Fans have clamoured for tickets for the round of 32, first-leg clash at the WWK Arena in deepest Bavaria to see Liverpool, who are unbeaten in their six European games under Klopp and buoyed by Sunday's thrashing of Aston Villa.

Augsburg received 5,000 applications for just 2,000 away tickets for the Liverpool game, which will be a 26,160 sell-out, with the return leg at Anfield on February 25, just three days before the Reds play Manchester City in the League Cup final.

While he is looking forward to returning home, Klopp is focused on the job in hand.

"During the draw, I wasn't thinking 'please let it be a German club'. At that point, I'd only been away for four months," he admitted.

"I'm looking forward to coming to Germany, but it's work and it's not as though I've been waiting for it.

"(For Augsburg) Liverpool would have been an exciting enough draw, without a German coach (being involved).

"The stadium would have already been full." Liverpool arrive in Bavaria buoyed by their 6-0 drubbing of Villa which left them eighth in the Premier League.

After a mid-season injury glut, Liverpool are getting back to a fully fit squad.

Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi all played in the drubbing of Villa after recent injuries.

Sturridge, who scored the opener at Villa Park, made his first start since early October, while it was Coutinho's first start since January 5.

Klopp is expected to name a strong side, as Liverpool do not have any games between the two legs after being knocked out of the FA Cup by West Ham earlier this month.

In the Bundesliga, Augsburg are 14th, just a point from the relegation places after Sunday's 3-1 defeat at home to runaway league leaders Bayern Munich.

After the League Cup, the Europa League presents Klopp with a second chance at silverware in his first season to bring some European glory back to Merseyside.

"I have never said that we have to win a title, but people here make it clear how important silverware is," said Klopp.

While the Reds are on the rise, hosts Augsburg are battling to stay up.

They are 14th in the Bundesliga, just a point from the relegation places, after Sunday's 3-1 defeat at home to runaway league leaders Bayern Munich, but the Germans want to show what they can do.

"This is an absolute dream game for all of us at Augsburg," said the club's director of sport Stefan Reuter, while coach Markus Weinzierl described it as a "highlight in the club's history".

From his Dortmund days, Klopp knows all about Augsburg, who qualified for the Europa League by finishing fifth last season, their highest placing in the club's history.

Klopp has faced Augsburg ten times while in charge of either Dortmund or Mainz and has lost only once in five games as a coach at the WWK Arena.

The Bavarians have struggled with their key playmaker Daniel Baier out with a fractured ankle since the start of January.

"Augsburg have huge qualities and have developed well," said Klopp.

"I like the club and have a lot of respect for the work of Markus Weinzierl. But their key player is injured. I have seen a lot of Augsburg games, but none without Daniel Baier."