EPL

Liverpool defenders Van Dijk and Gomez set to face Bologna, says Klopp

By Sports Desk August 01, 2021

Jurgen Klopp says Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will be involved for Liverpool when they play Bologna on Thursday.

The Reds step up their preparations for the forthcoming Premier League season with two 60-minutes matches against the Serie A side.

The central defensive duo made their long-awaited returns from injury against Hertha Berlin last time out, playing the final 21 minutes of the 4-3 defeat.

Van Dijk had not played since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Everton in October 2020, while Gomez played his first minutes since damaging a tendon in his left knee while on international duty with England the following month.

Klopp is pleased with the progress the pair are making and is confident they can get more minutes under their belts against Bologna.

"Hopefully, yes. That's how it looks in the moment," he told the official club website. "I want to make it really clear, we push nothing. 

"We know exactly how they feel – how they really feel and not what they tell us because they obviously are desperate to play again. 

"It looks good, this morning [it was a] normal training session. Sometimes in moments, we swap Virgil and Joe a little bit so maybe the intensity doesn't get too high, but in general it looks really good. 

"How many minutes on Thursday, I don't know but there will be some minutes for sure."

Klopp may also have Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino available for selection.

All three have returned from their extended break after helping Brazil reach the Copa America final, which they lost 1-0 to Argentina.

With Liverpool launching their Premier League campaign away at Norwich City on August 14, Klopp admits the returning trio's preparation time is far from ideal.

Nevertheless, the German said they could feature against Sinisa Mihajlovic's side, who finished 12th in Serie A last term.

"The players who play international football never have enough time; that was always like this," he added.

"You never have enough time to train and stuff like this – a week, two weeks before the season.

"[The Brazilian players] will start tomorrow with training properly with us.

"Maybe on Thursday in our two 60-minute games against Bologna, we can involve them already. I don't know yet – maybe 15, 20, 30 minutes. We have to see how they look exactly."

Related items

  • Nagelsmann on Rudiger to Bayern rumours: I'll have to see if I have any money in my wallet! Nagelsmann on Rudiger to Bayern rumours: I'll have to see if I have any money in my wallet!

    Julian Nagelsmann has been impressed by Antonio Rudiger's development under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea but insists he has not yet discussed a move for the centre-back.

    The Bundesliga champions are rumoured to be among a number of clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, keeping a close eye on the Germany international.

    Rudiger is into the final year of his Chelsea contract and will therefore be able to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from January unless fresh terms are agreed.

    According to reports that emerged on Thursday, Bayern have already been in contact with Rudiger's agent about an end-of-season switch to the Allianz Arena.

    But Nagelsmann was unwilling to discuss his side's supposed interest in Rudiger any further during Thursday's news conference previewing the trip to Greuther Furth.

    "I'm not talking about players from other clubs, particularly outside of the transfer window," he said. "But I will speak of him as a football fan: He has developed very well.

    "Thomas Tuchel has coached him well. Before he was sidelined at Chelsea but now he is a crucial player. I can't saying anything else.

    "Believe it or not, I haven't spoken to Brazzo [sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic] about it yet. Even if I had, I wouldn't give that away. 

    "I have to see how long he still has to go on his contract. Then I will see if I have any money in my wallet."

    Rudiger's importance to Chelsea since Tuchel took charge on January 26 is reflected in the statistics.

    The 28-year-old has helped the Blues to 20 clean sheets in 32 matches in all competitions across that period – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

    Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are next on the list with 15 each, highlighting Chelsea's defensive solidity under Tuchel.

    Rudiger has played seven times this season and has won 0.55 tackles per 90 minutes, compared to 0.76 for Niklas Sule, 0.88 for Lucas Hernandez and 1.64 for Dayot Upamecano among Bayern's regular centre-backs.

    The German's 73.77 touches per 90 minutes and 56.86 successful passes is also fewer than each of Sule, Hernandez and Upamecano have managed, albeit in different competitions.

    Sule and recent acquisition Upamecano have been Bayern's most regular pairing at centre-back this term and may get the nod for Friday's trip to Trolli-Arena. 

    Bayern enter the game on a seven-match winning run in all competitions, scoring 37 goals across that spell, and have lost only one of their last 48 league games against promoted opposition.

    Nagelsmann has Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala back in contention following recent lay-offs, but he will not take any risks over the fitness of the attacking pair.

    "The good news is that Gnabry and Musiala have both been able to return to training, with Hernandez also taking part today," Nagelsmann said.

    "Serge and Jamal are both looking good and ready to play. But we have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

    "Both of their conditions could cause a reaction after training, so we have to wait and see how sensible it is to field them from the start. We also have a Champions League game coming up next week.

    "Looking at today's training session alone, I'd say that both players can start tomorrow. But the probability they will both start is very low."

  • Tottenham move collapsed because Paratici wanted defensive football, claims Fonseca Tottenham move collapsed because Paratici wanted defensive football, claims Fonseca

    Paulo Fonseca claims his move to Tottenham collapsed because incoming director Fabio Paratici preferred a coach with a more defensive style.

    The 48-year-old former Roma boss had looked primed to take over from Jose Mourinho until the deal fell through, with some reports initially blaming problems with Italian and United Kingdom tax laws.

    Spurs went through a host of prospective candidates, including Gennaro Gattuso and Antonio Conte, before Nuno Espirito Santo was appointed in June.

    Nuno has endured a mixed start to life in north London, winning his first three Premier League games before suffering comprehensive defeats to Crystal Palace and Chelsea.

    Spurs have only scored once from open play in their five league games in 2021-22 from 2.5 expected goals, the lowest such figure aside from Burnley, Norwich City and Aston Villa. Ignoring set-pieces, they have created 27 chances in those five matches, the worst return in the league.

    They have averaged only 44 per cent of the possession, the sixth-lowest in the division, while they have registered just eight build-up attacks – open-play sequences of 10 or more passes that end with a shot or a touch in the box – which is a figure less than half that posted by Nuno's former side Wolves (18).

    Still, Fonseca claims this more safety-first approach was favoured by Paratici when he arrived at the club as managing director of football in July.

    "The agreement was done," he told the Telegraph when asked about his own talks with Spurs.

    "We were planning the pre-season and Tottenham wanted an offensive coach. It wasn't announced but we planned pre-season players. But things changed when the new managing director arrived, and we didn't agree with some ideas, and he preferred another coach.

    "I have some principles. I wanted to be coach of the great teams, but I want the right project and a club where the people believe in my ideas, my way to play, and this didn't happen with the managing director.

    "I cannot be a different way. All my teams will have these intentions. In Rome or Shakhtar [Donetsk] in the Champions League against the biggest teams, I'm not sending out my teams to defend near their own box.

    "We have an obligation with supporters to create a spectacle, a good show. That is the obligation of the coach. I want to win every game but just winning is not enough for me. I have to be offensive and dominate the games and have an offensive midfield and show courage in the game. These are things which will die with me.

    "It happened so many times when I got home after winning a game and my wife asked 'why are you unhappy?' And it is because I didn't win the way I wanted to. It is not enough. I have to create a good show for the people who pay the tickets and love football. At least I try. I cannot be a coach in another way."

  • Lukaku questions effectiveness of taking the knee following team-mate Alonso's doubts Lukaku questions effectiveness of taking the knee following team-mate Alonso's doubts

    Romelu Lukaku believes taking the knee could be losing its effectiveness in football's fight against racism as he called on social media companies to do more to combat online abuse.

    Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso recently revealed he would no longer be taking the knee before matches, with the Spain international saying the gesture is "losing a bit of strength".

    Players in Premier League teams have been taking the knee before games since matches resumed in June 2020 following the United Kingdom's first coronavirus-enforced lockdown, after the unlawful police killing of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis the previous month had sparked protests against racial injustice across the globe.

    Some players, such as Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha, have since elected not to take the knee, though the majority of teams and players in the top flight still do so.

    However, Lukaku - who was the subject of racist abuse during his time with Inter in Serie A - has now joined his team-mate Alonso in doubting the strength of the gesture.

    The striker told CNN: "I think we can take stronger positions, basically. Yes, we are taking the knee, but in the end, everybody’s clapping but, sometimes after the game, you see another insult."

    Lukaku added that social media executives must take the lead in tackling online hate.

    "The captains of every team, and four or five players, like the big personalities of every team, should have a meeting with the CEOs of Instagram and governments and the FA and the PFA, and we should just sit around the table and have a big meeting about it," Lukaku said.

    "I have to fight, because I'm not fighting only for myself. I'm fighting for my son, for my future kids, for my brother, for all of the other players and their kids, you know, for everybody.

    "At the end of the day, football should be an enjoyable game. You cannot kill the game by discrimination. That should never happen."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.