Big Match

Reds 'Ambitious like hell'

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp saw a lot of positives from his players despite their 3-0 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first-leg tie on Wednesday.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp saw a lot of positives from his players despite their 3-0 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first-leg tie on Wednesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Klopp says Barca loss won't dampen resolve to beat Newcastle in Premier League today

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his team can put their chastening 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat by Barcelona out of their minds and focus on winning today's crucial Premier League trip to Newcastle.

With the Reds trailing leaders Manchester City by a point heading into the final two league games of the season, the German insisted the mood in the dressing room did not need any lifting as "when you're in the race, you don't get tired".

He said yesterday: "We didn't need to pick players up in Barcelona (on Wednesday) and give them a hug. It's in us.

"If you want to win in football, you have to accept that you can lose. I had more positive thoughts about the game than negative because of what we did on the pitch.

"The boys are completely on fire. When you're in the race, you don't get tired.

"We are ambitious like hell. All we can do is beat Newcastle and that's unbelievably difficult, what other teams do on Monday night (when City play Leicester at home) isn't our problem.

"The performances in recent weeks have been brilliant. Now, we need to carry on like this."

His team are on a seven-match Premier League winning streak, scoring 20 goals and conceding just five. They are unbeaten in 15 matches and beat Newcastle 4-0 at Anfield on Boxing Day.

Klopp said with Naby Keita ruled out for the season, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is now back in full training after recently returning from a year-long injury absence, was in line for at least a place on the bench at St James' Park.

Guinea midfielder Keita suffered a ruptured tendon in his abductor against Barcelona, ruling him out for two months, a situation Klopp rued as "bad news for us".

However, Oxlade-Chamberlain has similar qualities, with his ability to make penetrating runs from deep. While Klopp refused to be drawn on whether the "brilliant" England midfielder was set to start his first game of the term, he confirmed he would be part of the travelling squad.

Asked about the possibility of a title play-off game, which would only occur if Liverpool and City ended the season level on points, goal difference and goals scored, Klopp admitted the scenario, while somewhat far-fetched, would "fit with the season, a big showdown at high noon somewhere".

He added: "Wow, I didn't think about that, to be honest. It would be cool but I don't think it's too likely."

For now, Klopp is not concerning himself with hypothetical situations as Newcastle are "pretty uncomfortable to play".

FIRED UP

The boys are completely on fire. When you're in the race, you don't get tired. We are ambitious like hell.

All we can do is beat Newcastle and that's unbelievably difficult...

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager.

And Magpies manager Rafa Benitez is not about to do his former side any favours despite "his relationship with Liverpool".

He is, however, winless in five previous league games against Liverpool (three draws, two losses).

The Spaniard, who retains the affection of most fans in the red half of Merseyside after leading them to their fifth European Cup in 2005, said he was "very clear about being professional and doing our job".

He added: "The fans know that you have to do what you have to do. I have friends at Liverpool, but also at City. We have 52,000 fans and we want to do it (secure the win).

"Everything about Liverpool now is that they are doing great. They are favourites but, if we do everything right, we have a chance."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'Reds 'Ambitious like hell''. Print Edition | Subscribe