Klopp warns Liverpool not to fall for Atlético Madrid’s tricks

Manager wary of repeat of gamesmanship from last-16 first leg defeat

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp  admits his side can not be distracted from their objective at Anfield as they pursue a third successive Champions League final appearance. Photograph:  Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits his side can not be distracted from their objective at Anfield as they pursue a third successive Champions League final appearance. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

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Champions League last 16 second leg: Liverpool (0) v Atlético Madrid (1)

Kick-off: 8pm, Wednesday. Venue: Anfield. On TV: Live on Virgin Media Sport and BT Sport 2.

Jürgen Klopp has warned Liverpool not to fall for any gamesmanship by Atlético Madrid on Wednesday when his side need another Anfield comeback to maintain their defence of the Champions League.

The Liverpool manager withdrew Sadio Mané at half-time of the 1-0 first-leg defeat amid concern that Atlético’s players were targeting a second booking for the Senegal striker and the Polish referee, Szymon Marciniak, was being easily influenced. Klopp has discussed Atletico’s antics with his players ahead of the last-16 second leg and admits they can not be distracted from their objective at Anfield as Liverpool pursue a third successive Champions League final appearance.

“We spoke about that already but we will probably mention it again,” said the Liverpool manager, who has captain Jordan Henderson available but will be without goalkeeper Alisson due to a hip injury. “In a similar situation in the second game I probably wouldn’t do the same, but in the first game it is not over in that moment. We are 1-0 down, yes, but with 10 players you have much less of a chance to fight back.

Experienced performance

“You always need a referee who is aware of situations like this, we cannot do it by ourselves. Sadio did nothing wrong, absolutely nothing, and I still thought in the next situation it will be like this [a second yellow card]. But if it was always that easy for you to get out the best player of the opponent then there is something wrong with the game. If the player does nothing wrong but it’s still possible – wow! Everyone runs against his elbow or whatever – that should not happen. We expect a really ‘experienced’ performance from Atlético, let me say that. In all different departments experienced, but we have to deal with that.”

Andy Robertson believes Wednesday’s referee, Danny Makkelie of the Netherlands, will need to control Diego Simeone’s players should they resort to the dark arts at Anfield, although the first leg in Madrid provided a valuable lesson.

“We have experience of coming up against them now,” said the Scotland captain. “We’ve had that one game and to be honest over there I felt we dealt with it pretty well. Of course it is frustrating at times but it is not going to change. We don’t have control of that. It is up to the referee to deal with it if it is getting too much.

“We need to be focused on our game and we can’t get annoyed at things we can’t control. We need to stay clear and calm in our heads and if we do that it gives us the best possible chance to perform at the highest level.”

Klopp accepts matches may have to be played behind closed doors in England if the coronavirus spread escalates but is unsure what effect it would have. Matches in Serie A and LaLiga have been suspended, Ligue 1 games must be behind closed doors or in front of no more than 1,000 spectators while individual fixtures in the Champions League and Europa League are also being played without crowds. Such a measure has yet to be implemented in this country and

Klopp said he was not sure whether it would be effective even if it was. “There are things that are more important than football. I think we realise that again in this moment,” he said.

Solution

“What we need is time to find a solution for that. How can we win that time? By avoiding different situations. I don’t know enough about how much it would help with [closing off] football games.

“The problem with football games is if you are not in the stadiums, then you go watch it closely together in rooms and I’m not sure which is better in this case, to be honest. We all have families, we are parents, we have kids and friends. Whatever will be decided, we will respect, but I don’t know how much sense it will make. If people think it will help, then we will do it.”

The Liverpool manager was asked by a journalist from Spain whether he was concerned about infection for his players in a contact sport. It provoked an animated response from the German.

“You flew from Madrid to here. So stay there – they’ve closed schools and you’re obviously concerned but you think football is worth it to travel,” he said. “That’s our common problem – we play football, but we cannot stop it [the spread of the virus] with football.

“Playing football is just a game. We are not the society, we are only are part of society and we should all be worried in the same time.” On the potential effect on his players.

Klopp added: “In this moment, they are all healthy. Why should we worry? What we do by not shaking hands is sending a sign. It’s good for you, it’s good for me, that we don’t shake hands now. It’s important that 22 completely healthy players are sending this sign for society.”

– Guardian

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