Klopp explains Liverpool selections – and can’t resist cheeky quip at Zlatan age
Jurgen Klopp insists he was happy to ring the changes, but remains hopeful of a win, as Liverpool brought their Champions League Group B campaign to a close against AC Milan at the San Siro.
The Reds are already through to the knockout stages, having claimed an impressive five wins out of five so far. Indeed, a win on Tuesday will ensure they become the first English side to win all six group games.
However, despite the goal of achieving that, Klopp opted to make eight changes to his starting line-up. And he opted to hand another start to teenage midfielder Tyler Morton, of whom much is expected.
But star men Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah did make the cut – and Klopp insists he still is looking for the win.
“We want to win the football game, that’s why we selected the line-up we have tonight,” he told BT Sport.
“This is the only game where we can really change things. It’s my first time in this stadium and I thought ‘wow’.
“The pitch is not so good but the rest is outstanding. So we come here and we want to give it a go.”
Morton start explained
On handing a start to Morton, Klopp added: “We shouldn’t make much of these kinds of occasions. He is ready for us and that’s why he is playing. I’m happy we could give him this opportunity.”
Milan need the win to secure their passage into the knockout stages and also made five changes.
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Included in their line-up is veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who continues to defy old father time. Indeed, Klopp has spoken warmly about the longevity of the Swede before.
Now 40, Klopp couldn’t resist a cheeky quip about the player in light of some of his substitutes.
And on what to expect from Milan, the German stated: “A proper fight. They have to win. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is probably as old as my whole bench! It’s just a nice opportunity.”
Pundits divided on Klopp selection
Klopp’s selections, which also included a rare start for Nat Phillips, was also given backing from pundit Neil Lennon.
“You’ve got to get the [selection] balance right,” he told BBC Radio Five. “The only thing Liverpool are playing for is the six-win record.
“But in the context of the season, that’s not that important.”
Pat Nevin, however, felt the decision to play Mane and Salah is an unnecessary gamble.
“It seems like a risk playing both Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. It’s totally unnecessary,” he stated.
“At the end of the game, if either of those players are injured and out for six weeks, we’d know it’s a mistake.”
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