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Champions League: Advantage Liverpool but Juergen Klopp wary

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah gave the Reds a win over the Italians in February, putting them in a commanding position for Tuesday’s game
Juergen Klopp
Juergen Klopp
File Photo

Reuters   |   Published 08.03.22, 12:59 AM

Liverpool must forget their 2-0 advantage over Inter Milan when they face the Italian side in the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at Anfield, manager Juergen Klopp said on Monday.

Inter, second in the Serie A standings, have won one of their last six games in all competitions but thrashed bottom side Salernitana 5-0 on Friday.

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool a win over the Italians in February, putting them in a commanding position for Tuesday’s game, but Klopp warned against complacency.

“Two-nil is probably the lead that has been turned over most often in the history of football,” Klopp told a news conference. “If you are (at) half-time and two up and you think you are already through then you are already on the wrong path.

“The result (in the first leg) was much better than I expected. It was a really tough tie and a difficult game to play. We know they have real quality. They won their last game 5-0... it was really impressive.

“It’s an experienced team, and they don’t come here (Anfield) as tourists. They want to attack the game, and we are not a team who defends results and tries to scrape through. Let’s see what we can get from it.”

The German also gave an update on the injured trio of Thiago Alcantara, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino, who all missed the 1-0 Premier League win over West Ham United on Saturday.

“All of them trained fully yesterday (Sunday),” Klopp said. “We have to see how they react, but Thiago will probably be fine since he was only out for a week. With Joel it was just three or four days, so he should be fine too.

“Bobby (Firmino) has been out for longer, so we have to see if it makes sense to give him just a few more days with proper training.”

Klopp also repeated his call for Premier League clubs to be able to use five substitutes, saying the rule change was necessary to help teams deal with a congested schedule.

“We played Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday and (now) Tuesday. That’s a horrible schedule,” Klopp said. “It’s essential that we go again for five substitutes in the Premier League.

“In one competition we don’t have that. It makes so much of a difference. I don’t see why it takes so long to understand that. The Premier League has to save their top-class players as well. It’s not an advantage.”

Neuer boost

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has been ruled fit to play against Salzburg following his recovery from a knee injury, coach Julian Nagelsmann said on Monday.

Neuer, who had missed the 1-1 first-leg draw in Austria, has been out for a month after having knee surgery in February. His services will in high demand on Tuesday with Bayern desperate to remain in the running for European silverware.

“If there is no reaction to the knee then he will be able to play,” Nagelsmann told an online news conference. “We know of his importance as a player and person for Bayern. I am happy that he is back and hopefully (will) play tomorrow.”

Bayern are the overwhelming favourites to reach the quarter finals but are under pressure to advance following their last-gasp equaliser to avoid defeat in the first leg.

A rule change this season means ties that are level after the second leg go to extra time and penalty shootouts irrespective of the number of away goals scored.

Bayern are nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga but they slipped up with a 1-1 home draw against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday and are also out of the German Cup. “Obviously, we know it’s an important game for us,” said Nagelsmann, in his first season at Bayern. “If we do not get a positive result it is clear that it won’t be a special season.

“But I do not expect that we will be eliminated. I have the justified hope that we will advance and that should be our demand and we have to deliver the performance to match that. We need to keep up the tempo.”

The Bavarians last won the Champions League in 2020 en route to a six-title haul.

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