Klopp laughs off claims UCL exit could benefit Liverpool’s EPL challenge

Jurgen Klopp insists he is not entertaining the thought of a Champions League exit being a blessing in disguise for his Liverpool squad.

The Reds are currently eight clear of Leicester City at the top of the Premier League and hold a whopping 14-point advantage over last season’s champions Manchester City who sit third in the table.

And Klopp says he won’t be contemplating the thought that a relinquishing of the European crown will aid their hopes at a first domestic title for 30 years this term.

He said: “Can we go out of the Champions League and into the Europa League [with a defeat]? Ah, we will be in the last 32 then? Interesting!

“So we are not part of these thoughts, obviously. We are really ambitious in this tournament, really. So yes, actually, we want to go until the end again. We have nothing better to do in the middle of May or whenever the final is played!

“So [last year] was cool, and we want to do it again. There is absolutely nothing else on our mind, but – we know it is step by step. Tomorrow will be really difficult and we have to be ready for that.

“We have to make Salzburg realise after all the positive things [about us], then bang!

“It’s difficult, it’s Liverpool. We have to make sure they realise that. Before the game they think ‘the only thing we have to do is win against Liverpool’ and then realise ‘oh to win against Liverpool!?’ It should not be easy and we have to make sure it is not easy.”

For the third season running, Liverpool’s participation beyond the group stages hinges on the final game of the fixture list. Klopp insists the Reds’ recent history gives him little to worry about, but says he isn’t taking qualification for granted against Jesse Marsch’s Salzburg.

“I am not worried, but I don’t take it for granted,” he said. “I am not worried that we played finals, learned from finals. Yes Middlesbrough (on the final day of 2016/17) is a good example, Brighton last match day (2018), then the finals we always were there.

“Did we always play the best football of our lives? No. But we didn’t fail really. And that’s of course what they have to make sure of again. But it is really big for Salzburg and they are talented, they are really talented.

“We showed in that game where we can cause them problems and we have to show that again, and all the other things where we let them back into the game we have to make better than the first game.

“But that’s football eh, you can not do it before the game, you have to do it on the pitch. So we know what we have to do – now we have to do it.”