Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said the surprise 2-0 Champions League defeat against Atalanta at Anfield on Wednesday night was fully deserved.
But the Reds boss couldn’t stop himself from making another dig at the TV scheduling. Liverpool take on Brighton in the Premier League’s early Saturday game, a decision that Klopp said was a ‘crime’.
Klopp changed three of his back-line for the visit of Atalanta. Teenagers Rhys Williams and Neco Williams came in alongside Kostas Tsimikas. That left Joel Matip as the only recognised first-teamer at the back.
Divock Origi also started his first game in nearly a month.
And despite the return of Mo Salah, the disjoined Reds failed to muster a single shot on goal.
They’d gone into the match knowing that victory would have sent them into the last 16 with two group games to spare. However, they’ll now need to win one of their final two games – home to Ajax and away to Midtjylland – to progress.
“It was not a good game,” Klopp told BT Sport 2.
“Both teams did not create a lot until they scored their goals, which we had seen a little bit coming.
“They wanted to make an advantage of the size, and in the end we could not defend it.
“We had moments, but not real chances. It was a deserved defeat in a difficult game.”
Klopp has been vocal in his despair at TV companies, feeling their scheduling is impacting on Liverpool‘s performances and string of injuries.
He told BT Sport’s Des Kelly: “I am afraid to say but I think it (not a shot on target) could happen not only to us, but it could happen to other teams as well.
“You, my special friends, you ask us to go on Saturday at 12:30, which is nearly a crime to be honest, nearly a crime.
“It has nothing to do with that game tonight, but congratulations for that.
“My only interest at the moment is just I get the thumbs up, nobody injured, let’s recover immediately, take it (disappointment), but we don’t have time for it to be honest so it is just get fresh legs as quick as possible and go again, that’s it.”
Milner reflects on ‘poor performance’
Reds midfielder James Milner accepted it had been a poor performance from the English champions.
Even when Klopp did shuffle his pack, the tone was already set.
Liverpool brought on Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, Andy Robertson and Fabinho just after Atalanta’s first goal. But it made no difference as the Reds couldn’t get up a head of steam.
“It was pretty flat,” Milner conceded. “There were a lot of changes again and we never got going. It was disappointing.
“The schedule is busy. Sometimes you have to try to get the win when you are not at your best and not at the level you have.
“We didn’t have that sharpness tonight, but we are still top of the group. We have to recover and go again.
“The effort was there, we just could not produce our best, so we have to move on pretty quickly.”