Klopp sets counter-pressing challenge as Firmino ruled out of Forest clash

By Sports Desk April 21, 2023

Jurgen Klopp told Liverpool's forwards counter-pressing will always be the "ticket" into his starting lineup, as Roberto Firmino was ruled out of Saturday's game against Nottingham Forest.

Liverpool ended a five-match winless run by thrashing Leeds United 6-1 last time out, with attacking quartet Cody Gakpo, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez all on target.

Liverpool are looking to move within six points of the Premier League's top four when they host Forest, before Champions League contenders Newcastle United and Tottenham face off on Sunday.

The Reds will be without Firmino for their next game after he sustained a muscle injury, which could also force him to sit out meetings with West Ham and Tottenham next week.

"Unfortunately Bobby picked up a muscle issue, we'll see how long that takes," Klopp said.

"It's not too serious, but he's definitely out for tomorrow and next week we have two more games. I'd say those are impossible as well, we will see. We have to take it day by day."

With Luis Diaz's return from injury adding to Liverpool's options in attack, Klopp was asked how he selects a three-man frontline from the six elite forwards in his squad.

"The ticket into this team will definitely be counter-pressing," he said. "That's where everything started, I wouldn't say that we lost it a little bit… but we had so many games where I didn't like that.

"That's a pretty strict thing. All five available right now – six with Bobby – can do it pretty well. But if you do it in the games you play, you have the chance to start again.

"Everybody's super important and everyone will play, but again, the ticket will be the desire to win the ball back as soon as we lose it, because we had so many times where that made a difference."

The fierce competition for places in Liverpool's attack has seen Nunez start their last two games on the bench, and Klopp says the Uruguayan is still adapting amid a difficult debut season.

"Darwin is a player with a different skillset to all our other players. He's a real handful and he already scored a decent number of goals," Klopp said.

"Of course, he's still adapting, his English is still not great if it exists at all – we are working on that. 

"It's not helpful to go through a difficult debut season for the whole team. How can a striker shine when the whole team is struggling? 

"It's no problem at all, this is a long-term project. I understand that he wants to play from the beginning, but we have to find a way of playing that works for us, then fit in the players." 

Related items

  • Van Dijk welcomes Slot arrival as Liverpool captain commits to Reds future Van Dijk welcomes Slot arrival as Liverpool captain commits to Reds future

    Virgil van Dijk insists his future remains solely with Liverpool as the Reds captain welcomed incoming Dutch compatriot Arne Slot.

    Slot will replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager, with the Dutchman expected to take charge at Anfield from Saturday after sealing his switch from Feyenoord.

    The soon-to-be Liverpool boss leaves the Netherlands after three highly successful seasons with Feyenoord, having led them to the league title in 2023.

    Slot will be welcomed by two fellow countrymen on the red side of Merseyside, with Van Dijk and Ryan Gravenberch eager to link-up with their new manager.

    As Netherlands began their Euro 2024 training camp on Monday, Van Dijk told a news conference: "I still have a year left on my contract.

    "I am club captain and I have made it clear I am there for the new coach and enthusiastic over the next season.

    "Obviously, there will be a lot of changes but I am confident we will make a big success of it.

    "I congratulated [Slot] of course and I'm really pleased for him and his family. We spoke about the team and the future but now my focus is fully on the national team."

    Slot's reign ended with six straight league wins and Feyenoord did not lose any of his final 20 Eredivisie matches at the helm, their last defeat coming against PSV on December 3.

    The 45-year-old oversaw exactly 150 games in charge of Feyenoord across all competitions, winning 98 of those contests (65.33 per cent).

    Slot also won the KNVB Cup glory in April, overseeing a 1-0 win over NEC Nijmegen in the final of that competition, and Gravenberch believes that success has earnt his Liverpool move.

    "I think he can be good for my career, he's a coach who wants to play good football," added Gravenberch.

  • UEFA and FIFA warned to halt Super League opposition by Spanish court UEFA and FIFA warned to halt Super League opposition by Spanish court

    FIFA and UEFA have been told to stop their opposition against the European Super League (ESL), with a Spanish court ruling warning of anti-competitive behaviour and abuse of a dominant position.

    Madrid's commercial court said on Monday the European and world governing bodies violated competition law by banning and punishing clubs from participating in a proposed new tournament.

    FIFA and UEFA were told to reverse any anticompetitive actions committed in the past after A22 Sports Management, the company behind the plan to create the ESL, brought the case to Spanish court.

    "It's an important step towards a truly competitive and sustainable club football landscape in Europe," A22 CEO Bernd Reichart said in a statement after the ruling. 

    "For too long UEFA has been allowed to control and dominate club football at European level."

    Reichart added that UEFA's position on the ESL has "stifled innovation for decades", though celebrated "the era of the monopoly [as] definitively over". 

    The case was also brought against LaLiga and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), though that pair and UEFA insisted the court ruling did not explicitly support the creation of the Super League.

    "The court has not given the green light to, nor has it approved, projects like the Super League," UEFA said in a follow-up statement. 

    "In fact, the judge has asserted that the Super League project has long been abandoned and that she cannot be expected to rule on any abstract projects.

    "In short, the judgment does not give third parties the right to develop competitions without authorisation and does not concern any future project or indeed any modified version of an existing project."

    English football's so-called 'big six' – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – were founding members of the original Super League project in April 2021.

    Yet those Premier League clubs quickly withdrew amid fan protests and pressure from the football authorities, with Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid following a similar suit.

    UEFA has since changed its rules around new competitions following the collapse of the ESL proposal in April 2021 and the court says those new rules are unaffected by Monday's ruling.

    "The court also confirmed that the current version of UEFA's authorisation rules [as adopted in June 2022] is not affected by today's ruling," the European governing body added.

  • Bonmati named Women's Champions League Player of Season for second straight campaign Bonmati named Women's Champions League Player of Season for second straight campaign

    Aitana Bonmati secured the Women's Champions League Player of the Season for a second straight campaign after guiding Barcelona to European glory.

    The Spain international scored in Saturday's 2-0 victory over Lyon in the final, helping Jonatan Giraldez's side clinch an unprecedented quadruple.

    Fellow Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas produced the other goal in that victory, but Bonmati was named Player of the Match after another eye-catching performance.

    With six goals and six assists, the 26-year-old managed more goal contributions than any other player in this season's Champions League, and that earned Bonmati further individual recognition.

    "She influenced the game all over the pitch in and out of possession. High progressive passes, high ball recoveries and scored a great goal," UEFA's technical observer panel said in a statement.

    Bonmati also scored eight goals in Barcelona's victorious Liga F campaign this season, helping the Spanish giants win the competition for a fifth consecutive time.

    Having already won the Ballon d'Or and FIFA's best women's player award for 2023, this UEFA award caps a fine season for the impressive Bonmati.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.