‘They pressed like crazy, they made a really hectic game of it’: Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool ‘couldn’t calm it down’ during ‘really tricky’ Champions League win over Midtjylland as he praises fringe players for stepping up
The German left big name stars like Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino out of the starting XI for the clash at Anfield as he looked to manage his squad and maintain fitness levels, but his new-look side still got the job done.
Goals came from Diego Jota and substitute Salah from the penalty spot as the Reds secured victory in the second half, and Klopp said the match was ‘tricky’ and that the away side caused them problems with their relentless pressing.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admitted his side had to overcome a ‘tricky’ game v Midtjylland
He praised his fringe stars such as Diego Jota (C) and Takumi Minamino for stepping up
‘We made a lot of changes and it’s my job to decide obviously, I have all the information of what the boys did,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘But for different reasons again, the game was really tricky. They pressed like crazy, they made a really hectic game of it and we couldn’t calm it down in the decisive moments.
‘But actually the individual performances, for not playing that long, like [Divock Origi] didn’t play for a while, that was absolutely OK. [Xherdan Shaqiri] didn’t play for a longer period, absolutely really good – 90 minutes, incredible. [Takumi Minamino], very lively but obviously not exactly in the game.
Klopp said Liverpool were given a ‘hectic’ game with the visitors ‘pressing us like crazy’
‘You saw when a team defends like them then you need your patterns and we didn’t show them tonight. That doesn’t help.
Liverpool got their goal against a stubborn Midtjylland just after the interval thanks to a slick passing move between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Xherdan Shaqiri, with Jota finishing well, and Klopp said he wanted to the team playing with that kind of confidence throughout.
‘We scored a goal anyway in probably the best football moment where we really passed through exactly like we should have. They had really big chances – two or three. Then, you just have to fight and that’s what we did. It’s like in a marriage, it’s in good and in lesser good times, you have to stick together.’
The German said young defender Rhys Williams ‘did really well’ after coming into the action
Without a number of his usual senior group to call-upon, coupled with the loss of makeshift centre-back Fabinho, Klopp had to rely on fringe stars such as Minamino, Origi and Shaqiri, as well as young prospect Rhys Williams.
He singled out the 19-year-old for praise, but with the youngster now looking in contention to feature against West Ham on the weekend, he said it was up to him to deal with the pressure to succeed.
‘He did really well. The only problem we have now is unfortunately we have four days to the West Ham game and you will make every day a story of him and then he has to prove he can deal with that as well because before everything was calm around him.’