Wednesday’s Champions League tie against FC Porto comes with the Reds already qualified for the knockout rounds.
With Liverpool having won the consensus toughest group in the Champions League with two games to spare, there is plenty of uncertainty about the kind of team manager Jürgen Klopp will send out against Porto.
At his pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday night’s clash, the Liverpool boss admitted that their status as having already qualified will impact his team selection—but says he still wants to win the game.
“We always respect the competition, obviously, but also we have to think about ourselves, our players, and our schedule,” Klopp said of the challenge. “Everyone expects us to win each match so there is pressure.
“We don’t have to win the game tomorrow but we want to win the game tomorrow. In the Champions League we usually fight until the last second of the last group game and we will still try to win tomorrow night.”
However, while rotation is likely, it won’t be a squad of limited youth and reserve players, with Klopp being asked about an injury to Diogo Jota in a meaningless final Champions League group game last season.
The German manager noted that while Jota’s injury was obviously a blow, at the time it made sense to give the Portuguese forward the start and that in similar circumstances he would make the same call again.
“We respect the integrity of the competition,” Klopp noted. “Diogo was unlucky [last season]. If I leave everybody out we won’t have a team, so we have to line up a team to try to win a football game.”