Klopp hints at Liverpool concern Ajax exposed; defends tactic that’s been blown out of proportion

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp addressed Liverpool’s much maligned high line that resulted in another concession, and hinted at a slight concern over the mentality of his squad.

Liverpool were made to wait, but through the unlikely source of Joel Matip, got their Champions League campaign back on track.

The Reds hosted Ajax on the back of their 4-1 humbling in Naples last week. With their Premier League clashes against Wolves and Chelsea both postponed, the UCL assumed even greater significance than it otherwise might have.

Liverpool came out with renewed vigour and took the lead in the 17th minute through Mohamed Salah.

A simple long ball from Alisson was headed on by Luis Diaz to Diogo Jota who in turn fed Salah. After taking a touch to steady himself, the Egyptian finished clinically to ease the nerves.

However, Ajax levelled the scores 10 minutes later, raiding down Liverpool’s right before Mohammed Kudus rifled in off the crossbar.

That would prove to be the visitors’ only shot on target as Liverpool set about laying siege to their opponents’ goal.

The Reds looked dangerous at set pieces all night and with mere minutes remaining, Joel Matip blew the roof off of Anfield when heading home Kostas Tsimikas’ corner.

Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Klopp hinted his squad may still require a confidence boost after their pressing noticeably fell off once Ajax scored.

He initially said: “I think everybody could see that we understood and that we had to put a completely different shift into the game.

“The boys did that. We played a lot of good stuff against a hard fighting opposition. Scored the first goal and should’ve scored more goals, from set pieces especially. I don’t know how those balls didn’t go in.

“I’m not sure it was their first attack, but Ajax didn’t have a lot. That’s how it is in our situation, anything can happen, but it was an incredible strike from [Mohammed] Kudus.

Liverpool must press properly or not at all – Klopp

“It’s like another test. Everybody is hoping you go in the right direction and then you get another setback. You could see the impact of that.

“The pressing before the goal was much better than after the goal. Only a yard or two but if we press, we have to do it right.

“At half time: 1-1. It was clear we had to go back to how we started because it was very intense for Ajax as well. Finally one of the many set pieces went in… nice.”

When asked if he’d have chosen Joel Matip as his goalscorer given his last UCL goal came nine years ago for Schalke, Klopp beamed before adding: “I’m not picky, in that sense.

“It was a nice celebration that showed pretty much everything about what the boys thought today.

“Nothing is over, either negative or positive. It is a first step, a very important step. Now we have a strange break, pretty long (Liverpool’s next match is against Brighton on October 1). Brighton is waiting.”

Klopp unconcerned by another high line concession

On the subject of another team getting in behind Liverpool’s high line too easily for Kudus’ goal, Klopp replied: “I have to watch it back.

“In the end you cannot avoid all balls in behind. I thought we dealt really well with that, in that situation not, but that will always happen in football.

“If Ali [Alisson] has to make a save, then something went wrong beforehand.

“I understand that we talk about little details but for us it’s not that important because it’s about conceding a chance, which can always happen, and then getting back to how it should’ve been.”