Klopp gets 1st taste of Anfield in Europa League
It will hardly rank alongside the classic European nights that Anfield has staged down the years, but Liverpool’s home match against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on Thursday will be significant in its own right.
Two weeks into the job, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp takes charge of his first match at the famous stadium and is expected to be given a great reception by fans who see the German coach as the man to bring the good times back to the five-time European champions.
The Klopp era at Liverpool began with a 0-0 draw at Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday. The Reds’ final league position is what Klopp will be judged on this season, but his pedigree in European football was a big factor in his appointment and he takes over a team in a decent position in its Europa League group.
Liverpool has drawn its opening two matches in Group B, which also contains FC Sion and Bordeaux.
At former club Borussia Dortmund, Klopp reached the final of the Champions League in 2013 and the quarterfinals the following year. To get back in Europe’s premier competition, he’ll have to lead Liverpool to a top-four finish in the Premier League or to the Europa League title.
Klopp sought Wednesday to manage expectations ahead of his first Anfield experience.
”We have to be patient, in a football way,” he said. ”I hope no one is waiting for it to be 4-0 after three minutes and is then disappointed.”
Klopp may be able to call upon the services of leading striker Daniel Sturridge against Rubin, with the England international having missed the game against Spurs as a precaution after hurting his knee in training. Fellow striker Christian Benteke could be on the bench after injury.
Whoever plays will have to fit into Klopp’s blueprint, which was evident at Tottenham: A fierce pressing game and a high-energy approach.
”The stats show we ran further and did more sprints,” Liverpool midfielder Emre Can said.
But Klopp said his style of play could be misunderstood.
”We don’t have to run 115km only to be successful,” he said. ”We must know turn the screws in the right moment – better thinking, better timing.”
Here are other things to know about the third round of games in the Europa League:
It’s time for Michel to get tough on his Marseille players.
A couple of weeks after criticizing what he perceives as a culture of laziness in French football, the Marseille coach is moving from talk to action.
Ahead of Marseille’s trip to Braga, the struggling French league club posted a video on its website showing the Spaniard shouting orders and exhorting his players to listen carefully during a training session.
Sitting just four points above the relegation zone in the French league, Marseille is on the verge of crisis after going six matches without a win in all competitions. The club’s last win came in September, when Marseille won 3-0 at Groningen in Group F.
”We are worried,” said Michel, who replaced Marcelo Bielsa in August.
Borussia Dortmund has left Armenia midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan at home for its trip to Azerbaijan for its match against Qabala. Armenia and Azerbaijan are involved in a long-running territorial conflict.
”He felt somewhat uncomfortable in the situation,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said. ”This is the best soluition for all sides.”
The Armenian has been in outstanding form this season but Watzke said the midfielder was not upset about being left behind and added that it was the club’s duty to care for the player.
Dortmund has four points from two matches and a win in Baku would take the team a big step toward the next round.
Having only recently begun coaching in Serie A after more than two decades in the lower divisions, Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri is alarmed by the injury rate to key players.
Key midfielder Dries Mertens pulled up with a strained thigh muscle in a weekend win over Fiorentina and standout forward Lorenzo Insigne is also returning from a muscular problem.
Sarri suggested the problem stems from an overcrowded calendar, especially after breaks for national team play.
”For European qualifying, there should be a prequalification tournament for the smaller national teams and the big teams should enter qualifying later on,” Sarri said. ”We’re at the start of a stretch of seven matches in three weeks and it’s always like that after the national team breaks.”
Napoli visits Danish side Midtjylland with both squads topping Group D with a full six points.
Despite the injuries, Napoli has won three straight in Serie A over elite clubs Juventus, AC Milan and Fiorentina.
AP Sports Writers Sam Petrequin in Paris, Nesha Starcevic in Frankfurt and Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report.