Jrgen Klopp was in no mood for joking as he landed in Salzburg with Liverpools Champions League campaign hanging in the balance
The Austrian media who were expecting a bit of light-hearted banter with Jrgen Klopp at the Red Bull Arena were to be disappointed. It was not the time or place. There was confusion over where to sit alongside Jordan Henderson at the pre-match press conference, a TV light on full beam was shone directly into the face of the Liverpool manager, who then had to correct the interpreter over a mistranslation of his captains words. As you can see, said Klopp by way of apology, I am in competitive mood already. Salzburg should know to expect nothing less.
Liverpool find themselves on familiar ground in the final game of their Champions League group: needing a result to qualify and to keep alive hopes of reaching the final of every European competition they have played under Klopp. Two years ago they needed to avoid defeat against Spartak Moscow and won 7-0. Last season they had to beat Napoli, one of the teams who could prompt the holders elimination on Tuesday, and won 1-0. RB Salzburg have nothing to lose according to their prolific 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haaland, who has predicted a 3-1 win for the Austrian champions and a hat-trick for himself in the biggest game of my career so far. Liverpool know what it takes to win.
I am not nervous but I am tense, said Klopp. It is a special kind of tense. If something is important to you, you want to reach it. That is why you have the situation of stress but, over the years, you learn how to deal with it and learn that you wont die because of these situations. I have won and lost many important games but in the last few years it has gone well. Salzburg are going in the right direction.
I have a big interest in this club [Salzburg]. They create opportunities for young players and people in football and in other sports too. That is important. They fought for years to get into the Champions League and now they have the chance to go to the knockout stages. This situation has caused a lot of fear and whoever can overcome this fear best will make it into the next stages.
Jesse Marsch, Salzburgs American coach, was filmed at half-time at Anfield in October berating his team for showing Liverpool too much respect as they fell 3-0 behind and rallied to level at 3-3 before Mohamed Salah sealed victory for the hosts. Show them we are fucking here to compete, raged Marsch, who also urged his forwards to be more ruthless against Virgil van Dijk. That is easier said than done.