Liverpool, last season’s finalists, were given a tough UEFA Champions League group-stage drawn but Jurgen Klopp has insisted that he didn’t expect anything less from the biggest footballing competition in the world.
The Merseyside outfit, steeped in rich continental history, will be battling it out against the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade for a spot in the last-16 of a competition they have won five times.
“To be 100 per cent honest, it was not that I had a group I wished for or whatever. I expected a difficult group, we have a difficult group and that’s what the Champions League is all about,” Klopp told the club website.
“PSG are one of the most exciting teams in the world and I think their target is to win the Champions League, so that will be two interesting matches. Napoli, we beat them in pre-season but it goes without saying these two games will be completely a different challenge.”
PSG have comfortably outspend most European sides in the past and can call upon mercurial talents such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Most experts feel it will be a titanic battle with Les Parisiens and Jurgen Klopp’s men for top spot, while Napoli look to be the dark horses of the group.
“I’ve been to Napoli with Dortmund, so I know what the atmosphere is like there. In fact, it’s where I got a suspension. I can do better, obviously!”
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“Red Star, I watched them last night. They came through and it will be, again, a very, very intense atmosphere I am sure. But that’s how it is, it’s the group and I am fine with that. Now let’s go.”
Thomas Tuchel, the former Borussia Dortmund manager, has taken up the reigns in the French capital and Klopp admitted he was intrigued by the prospect of watching PSG play under his compatriot.
“I am looking forward to watching PSG a bit more often, which is a very interesting project for sure over in France with Thomas Tuchel. Facing Neymar will be, for our Brazilian guys, like meeting a friend again and all that stuff. It’s a big challenge, but for all the others it is a big challenge to face us.”
Last season, Liverpool took the world by storm as they reached the finals, but Klopp insisted there was no time to rest on their laurels as the slate is now clean for all clubs.
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“Yes, but last season is last season and now we have to do it again. That’s normal.”
“All the teams have to do it again. We want to go through the group. It will be difficult but still we want to go through. That’s the plan, so now let’s start working on it,”the German tactician added.