Jurgen Klopp has played down the significance of Liverpool’s final Premier League clash of the season against Middlesbrough as the Reds chase down a Champions League berth.
Liverpool must beat the relegated Teessiders to secure a place among the elite for the only the second time since 2009.
With a number of the club’s senior players saying the match will be ‘like a cup final’, Klopp has instead tried to take the heat out of the occasion by instructing his players to simply keep their concentration and play to their strengths.
“I don’t think we need different kinds of descriptions for this game, so it’s a ‘cup final’ or a ‘World Cup final’ or that it’s the most important game of however many years and everything,” he told the club’s official website.
“It is a football game. If we really—and I know we do—expected from ourselves that in each game we win the game, what is the difference?
“We always have this kind of pressure; that we want to win the game, that we have to do the right things.
“We have to defend well, we have to be good organisationally, we have to create chances and we have to score goals.
“So that is not a big difference and I don’t think that anybody needs this special motivation or whatever.
“In the end, we have to play football and I am really happy I have a team able to do this.”
Klopp on Liverpool blueprint
Liverpool were 4-0 winners in their penultimate match of the season at West Ham last weekend and Klopp thinks the success at the London Stadium can serve as the perfect blueprint.
“Let’s play football because that’s the only thing we can really do, the only thing we really have influence on—that’s what I tried to tell the boys,” he added.
“As long as you are focused on yourself, as long as you can use the good things from the situation, like really fighting for something, then everything is fine.
“If you only feel the pressure, it makes no sense.
“You cannot run, you cannot breathe, you’re not free and that’s what football needs so you really can perform.
“I was happy about the last game, especially the second half because we showed we are here for working hard and trying everything, and we put in the right tools to beat them.”