Gotze admits regret over failed Liverpool move in 2016

By Sports Desk July 06, 2022

Mario Gotze acknowledges he was wrong to reject a move to Liverpool upon leaving Bayern Munich in 2016, when the Reds were at the beginning of their rebuild under Jurgen Klopp.

Gotze returned to the Bundesliga this month, joining Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt after spending two seasons with Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven.

The creative midfielder, who scored the only goal of the game as Germany overcame Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final, became one of European football's hottest properties during a four-year spell with Klopp's Borussia Dortmund between 2009 and 2013, winning two Bundesliga titles and reaching a Champions League final.

After moving from BVB to rivals Bayern Munich, where he scored 36 goals in 114 appearances, Gotze was targeted by the Reds in 2016, and now admits a move to Anfield would have benefited his career.

"Liverpool had finished eighth in their first season with Jurgen [2015-16] and had not qualified for the Champions League," he recalled in an interview with Bild.

"Even in previous years, it wasn't a club that always played at the top.

"Dortmund had previously played a top season under Thomas Tuchel, BVB was on the up. Jurgen was still building something.

"In retrospect you have to say, Liverpool would have been better."

Reds boss Klopp has won six major trophies during his spell with the Merseyside club, lifting both domestic cups during a marathon 2021-22 season which saw them narrowly miss out on a historic quadruple. 

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    Chelsea will host Milan on Wednesday in what could well be a must-win fixture for the Blues, who sit last in Champions League Group E.

    England has not been a happy hunting ground for Milan, but the group leaders and reigning Serie A champions will be hoping for a change of fortune when they roll into Stamford Bridge.

    Meanwhile, Mykhaylo Mudryk will get a chance to show why he is considered one of the top young talents in Europe as Shakhtar Donetsk head to the Santiago Bernabeu to take on Real Madrid.

    Paris Saint-Germain will look to change their poor historical record against Benfica, with Kylian Mbappe on the brink of becoming the club's record European goalscorer.

    Stats Perform has dug up the most interesting facts and angles for each contest on Wednesday.

    Chelsea v Milan

    This is the first time these two teams will meet in the Champions League since they were in the same group in 1999, with both of those matches ending in draws. They have not met in a competitive game since, with all four of their 21st-century contests coming in the International Champions Cup (Chelsea won three of those with Milan recording one victory).

    Chelsea have only lost twice at home to Italian teams in continental competition, collecting eight wins and three draws. They lost to Lazio 1-2 in 2000, and to Inter 1-0 in 2010.

    Milan's record in England also gives no reason for optimism, with only one win from 20 tries in European play (D7 L12). 

    Olivier Giroud was subbed off in Milan's dramatic 3-1 win over Empoli on Saturday. The France striker could become the 10th player to score for and against Chelsea in the Champions League, and first since Loic Rémy for Lille in December 2019, should he net in this meeting.

    Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk

    This is the third consecutive season these sides have met in the group stages. It is the fifth time teams have ever been paired together in three consecutive seasons, and Shakhtar was involved in the most recent occasion as well, against Manchester City from 2017-18 through to 2019-20.

    Over the past two seasons, they have split the wins evenly, with Shakhtar winning both games in the 2020-21 campaign, before Madrid triumphed in both fixtures last season.

    After a win and a draw in the first two matchdays, Shakhtar boast the highest shot conversion rate in the competition, scoring with five of their 10 shots, including two goals from 21-year-old rising star Mudryk.

    On the other side, Vinicius Junior leads the Champions League with 33 chances created and seven assists from open play since the start of last season, and he shares the mantle for most goal involvements at 18 with Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski.

    Benfica v Paris Saint-Germain

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    However, PSG are a different beast now then they were back in 2014, and have only lost one of their past 11 matches in the group stage (8W 2D).

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    62 – City's Erling Haaland averages a goal every 62 minutes in the competition, netting 26 goals in 21 appearances. He is well clear of second-placed Mario Gomez, who scored his 26 goals on an average of every 102 minutes.

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    3 – Sevilla have failed to score in each of their past three Champions League games. They have never gone four consecutive games in European competition without scoring.

    Juventus v Maccabi Haifa

    29 – It has been 29 years since Maccabi Haifa defeated an Italian team in European competition (3L 1D), with their only victory coming in 1993 against Parma. 

    8 – The Israeli side have lost all eight of their Champions League fixtures since 2002, by a combined aggregate score of 13-1.

    Salzburg v Dinamo Zagreb

    6 – Salzburg can become the first Austrian team to ever go six games unbeaten in the Champions League if they can avoid defeat against Dinamo Zagreb, with three wins and two draws from their past five.

    23 – The last time Zagreb kept a clean sheet away from home in this competition was 23 years ago, drawing 0-0 against United at Old Trafford in 1999. Since then, they have conceded 52 goals in 18 away games (2.9 per game).

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    Liverpool ran out comfortable 2-0 victors against Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side in the Champions League, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah on target.

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    The former Benfica striker's six efforts were the most a Liverpool player has had without scoring in a Champions League group stage game since Sadio Mane against Salzburg in December 2019 (also six).

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    "I think you can see that. The way the boys moved together up front today was extremely good for just one [training] session," Klopp said of his attackers responding to a change in shape against Rangers.

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    "There are moments you are more clinical, there are moments like in the game against Arsenal and today; you create chances, but make a mistake with the last pass.

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