Klopp plays down Liverpool fatigue concerns ahead of season run-in
(Reuters) – Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp is confident his players will have enough recovery time to avoid a European hangover as they switch focus to their Premier League title bid this weekend.
The Merseyside club, who clinched a Champions League semi-final spot after beating Porto on Wednesday, continue their tussle with Manchester City for the top-flight title when they travel to Cardiff City on Sunday.
City, who have a game in hand, face Tottenham Hotspur for the third time in just under two weeks on Saturday.
“We are still in the Champions League and title race. We are not tired,” Klopp told a news conference on Friday.
“Training is low intensity because we don’t have to do a lot because the boys know it. We have a little session tomorrow and then we go to Cardiff.
“Because of another very strong team in the Premier League, we have to win all our games, and the Champions League is like this anyway in pretty much all the games. Nothing has changed since July — we are in it, and now we want to win it.”
Following a trip to the Welsh capital, Liverpool must prepare for two more bottom-half clubs Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United and a two-legged European showdown with Spanish champions Barcelona over the next three weeks.
Klopp said his players have benefited from the experience of reaching the Champions League final as well as securing a Premier League top-four finish last year and it could come in handy as they approach another intriguing season finale.
“It’s always a challenge but it’s not anymore because we are used to it,” the German manager added.
“Barcelona? Before then it’s Cardiff and Huddersfield and that’s exactly the same importance to us than the game after that.”
Klopp was pleased with defender Joe Gomez’s display on his return from injury against Porto, while midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could also play a part in Liverpool’s final few games as he recovers from a serious knee injury.
“Joe looked good,” said Klopp. “He played 15, 20 minutes during the week. Will he start? I don’t know; we have a lot of players in a lot of rhythm.
“It’s good to have him and it’s the same for Ox… As long as the other players in training show no drop in form then we stay like it is, but it’s very good to have them in contention.”
Neil Warnock’s Cardiff are aiming to build on Tuesday’s victory over relegation rivals Brighton & Hove Albion and give themselves a chance to move out of the bottom three.
“They are now in a good moment. Lots thought they were done a couple of weeks ago,” Klopp said.
“We have to be careful of counter-attacks… each set-piece will be a scoring opportunity for Cardiff.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)