Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes only the brave prosper against Manchester City — which is why he has every faith in his players.
City’s only Premier League defeat on their way to a title which is all but won, and could be secured this weekend, came at Anfield in January after Pep Guardiola’s side were blown away in 10 second-half minutes.
But the thrilling 4-3 victory was not just about that brief, irresistible spell, but the approach Liverpool took from the start as they were on the front foot from the off.
It is the only way Klopp knows to play and is part of the reason why the six victories he has masterminded in 12 matches against Guardiola is more than any other manager.
“What they (City) do, they do at the highest level. They have a specific way of playing and that makes it all difficult,” he said.
“If you are brave, if you are ready to make mistakes, if you are ready to enjoy the work and your attitude is at the highest level, if your character is at the highest level, then you have a chance — and that’s the only thing I need.
“It’s difficult to be brave against them because you can suffer.
“If you are, I don’t know, West Brom, you cannot be brave against Manchester City because you cannot attack them high or they run through you like a warm knife through butter. You have no chance.
“When you have the ball you need to be brave, you need the skills and the skills of my boys are not too bad.”
Klopp has always asked his players to be positive and aggressive in their football.
However, he admits it takes a lot of practice and a certain mindset to get them to go toe-to-toe with a side like City, whose 82% possession in last weekend’s win at Everton set a new Premier League record since such data became available 15 years ago.
“Use the spaces. It is much easier to say that. Go in the challenge, try to win it. Be next to someone, try to help them. Be there. Not waiting or giving the opportunity, using the space. Be lively,” he added.
“Everything we do with the ball can cause City problems. Sitting back is not a solution. It is not a solution against Manchester City.”
Left-back Andrew Robertson concedes that, other than facing the Barcelona maestro, Lionel Messi, City present a defender’s toughest test.
“Of course. You are playing against the best team in the league this season,” he said.
“The people you are coming up against our world class players and you need 100% concentration.”
Klopp meanwhile revealed the Reds’ preparations for next week’s second leg have not gone to plan.
Ideally Liverpool would have trained at the Etihad Stadium the night before the match and then had a closed session on the morning of Tuesday’s game. However, the club have been unable to secure a behind-closed-doors pitch on which to practise and so may end up remaining on Merseyside and travelling to Manchester on the day of the game.
“We would’ve liked to have trained next week ahead of the away game as well but we didn’t get a pitch for the next morning because no Manchester club could give us a pitch for the next morning,” Klopp said.
It is understood Liverpool did contact Manchester United to ask about the availability of the Red Devils’ The Cliff training ground, where Napoli trained ahead of their tie against City earlier this season.
However, the complex in Salford, used by United’s youth teams and for football in the community events, was already being used for the dates Liverpool requested. The club are not aware of any enquiries being made about using the first-team’s Carrington training complex or Old Trafford.
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