Why Liverpool boss Klopp must use Champions League opportunity to answer some key questions

Big moment: Jürgen Klopp braces himself for Liverpool’s game in Porto in the Champions League
Big moment: Jürgen Klopp braces himself for Liverpool’s game in Porto in the Champions League

All the excuses are there for Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool prepare for Porto, far from a European heavyweight but the type of side who they’ve come unstuck against time and time before.

There’s Coutinho, gone and not replaced and all the mental scars left from losing their best player by far a few years after it happened with Suarez.

Don’t forget the domestic game, the race to get back in the Champions League of equal importance than having a good run in it.

Then there’s inexperience to lean on. The Estadio do Dragao is as intimidating as its name, and the Portuguese just don’t lose there. This, remember, is Liverpool’s first match in the knock-out stages of the competition for nine years.

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They are making up for lost time, and the hour has arrived for their manager to step up and seriously produce.

The jury is still out on Klopp, outside of Anfield. The accusation levelled at him is that while they haven’t obviously regressed under his tutelage, there’s little evidence to suggest they have risen, either.

His high-tempo, aggressive style pleases some, and not others. The German took a while to implement his counter-attacking beliefs and his great start was stopped in its tracks once teams figured them out.

Two-and-a-half years after arriving, questions still remains. Answers could well be given over the next two legs.

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It’s hard to trust a manager who doesn’t know his best goalkeeper. One too who feels it wise to persevere with Alberto Moreno in a backline which has not only undermined a challenge but has made Klopp, at times, appear second rate.

Though there’s no denying Liverpool are a joy to watch, an entertaining must-see when you know what you’re getting from the rest near the top . The joy is that however poor the opposition, they always find a way to make a meal of it.

Though the real delight lies in how their swashbuckling style can undo the very best. Manchester United, the best side currently in world football, were dispatched, sent home and had shudders sent through them at Anfield a few weeks ago. Like Arsenal did, when they had four put past them back in warmth of August.

Klopp has proven he has the measure of big clubs and big managers. He now the chance to bite back at his critics who say progress is limited. 

What he also has is European pedigree. Reaching a Champions League and Europa Cup final, despite being on the losing side both times, means there’s business left unfinished.   


He talks the talk, too.

“I know it already, I don’t need to look at them,” he said of Porto on Tuesday. “Probably the strongest team in Europe at the minute is Manchester City. We’ve played them twice and at the highest level. PSG is a little bit different but I don’t look at them, I only know it already that if we meet them we could beat them.”

Liverpool fans have had plenty of lip service paid to them over the years. Thankfully, they are well used to keeping the receipt and being short-changed.

They know it’s time for the talking to stop.

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