Last-16 spot not a guarantee: Klopp

Roberto Firmino (foreground, left) and Sadio Mane during a training session. The Brazilian, who scored twice in Liverpool's 5-1 win at Brighton last Saturday, has notched five goals in his five Champions League appearances this season and will be a p
Roberto Firmino (foreground, left) and Sadio Mane during a training session. The Brazilian, who scored twice in Liverpool's 5-1 win at Brighton last Saturday, has notched five goals in his five Champions League appearances this season and will be a pivotal player against Spartak Moscow.PHOTO: REUTERS

Liverpool manager will field 'best team' against Spartak, avoids issue of Coutinho

LONDON • Liverpool may need only one point against Spartak Moscow today to make it to the last 16 of the Champions League, but Jurgen Klopp is taking nothing for granted.

"If we win that's cool. I know a lot of people think we could already be through but that's not... Spartak could say the same," the Liverpool manager said at his pre-match conference yesterday ahead of the Group E clash at Anfield.

"They gave four points away against Maribor.

"I am really looking forward to it. They are in a good moment, they have very important offensive players back."

Klopp's side are unbeaten (two wins, three draws) and are currently top of the group on nine points going into the final game.

Sevilla are second on eight, while Spartak are two points behind the Spanish club in third. Maribor lie bottom with just two points.

Klopp has once again called on the home crowd to provide a boost.

"I think that the atmosphere can and should help us tomorrow," he said.

"We all know how special this place can be. Thank God it's cold so everyone needs to move to keep warm."

The German added that he does not know if Philippe Coutinho's long-term future lies with Liverpool. The Brazilian forward nearly left for Barcelona in the summer.

"Nothing... I don't think about it. Not one second that I thought about that," Klopp said.

"I am not sure. Nobody knows what will happen in January (in the transfer window)."

Klopp is also optimistic of having Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez back to bolster his defence.

Both were ill last week with the former barely fit enough for Saturday's 5-1 win at Brighton and Gomez not even making the squad.

Forward Sadio Mane is expected to return to the starting line-up after being rested at the weekend and the Senegal international is targeting a victory to progress as group winners.

"For us, it is very important. It is still possible so we will try and do it tomorrow," he said. "Every game is important for us. We are improving every single game."

Following the Spartak match, Liverpool will face Everton at home in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

"We have enough time after tomorrow night to think about Sunday's game. We won't hesitate to line up our best team," Klopp added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

LIVERPOOL V SPARTAK MOSCOW
Singtel TV Ch112 & StarHub Ch212, tomorrow, 3.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2017, with the headline 'Last-16 spot not a guarantee: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe