Liverpool will relish pressure of Salzburg decider, says Jürgen Klopp

Jürgen Klopp lamented Liverpool’s failure to book a Champions League “holiday” in Salzburg next month but insisted his European champions would thrive on the pressure to reach the knockout stages in Austria.

Liverpool realistically need a draw from their final group game in Austria to reach the knockout stages having taken only a point from Napoli’s visit to Anfield on Wednesday. Victory against Carlo Ancelotti’s side would have secured qualification with a game to spare and eased the burden on Klopp’s first-team regulars during a demanding December of nine matches in four competitions. Fabinho, Liverpool’s influential midfielder, may be out of action for several games having sustained an ankle injury in the 1‑1 draw.

“I don’t want to say we need it [the pressure on the final game] but we had it always,” Klopp said. “I’m four years in – tell me when it was easy? Last year we had to win at home 1-0 against Napoli. I cannot remember a bigger pressure game than that. Really difficult and we did it. Now, we have to go to Salzburg. In this moment the game is over and my problem is Fabinho is injured and Brighton, not Salzburg.

“But I know how human beings are; people wished we could finish the group tonight and make kind of a holiday game in Salzburg. That’s the situation – if we have ambitions in the Champions League, we have to show that in Salzburg. Until then we have to show our ambitions in the Premier League.”

Klopp added: “It was clear that we wanted to finish it tonight. We knew long before the game that it would be difficult against Napoli. It was difficult last year, it’s always difficult. They’re a good side.”

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Fabinho left Anfield with his left foot in a protective boot amid concerns he could be out for several weeks with ankle ligament damage. The Brazil midfielder will be assessed over the next 48 hours.

Klopp said of the injury: “I don’t know [the extent]. He has pain, so that’s not good. He couldn’t continue, and he is a really hard one. I don’t want to say what I expect, because I hope that it is not that serious but we will know more, maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after. We will see.”

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