After Liverpool managed to put five goals past Porto in the first leg of the Champions League round of sixteen tie, it’s fair to say most of us naturally assumed it was done and dusted and the place in the quarter finals was secure. And with the huge game against Manchester United to come on Saturday, it seemed only logical that a heavy degree of rotation would take place for the second leg.
Jürgen Klopp, however, at least claims that this won’t be the case.
“I don’t think for a second about resting anybody”, the Liverpool manager told The Telegraph. “I know it’s Manchester United afterwards but we cannot change it”.
Explaining his rationale, the German argued that “Porto have won all their games since we played them”, expecting them to “strike back” as “they are Portuguese and proud and will give a fight... if anybody here thinks they come here and give the game up, leave their star players at home or whatever they are mistaken. It’s Champions League and the whole world is watching. What do you think?”
Whether Klopp is being entirely truthful here is another matter. It would make sense to suggest to Porto that he intends to put out a different team to the one he will actually be playing. Even if he were to play a dramatically weakened side, it would still be prudent to claim that it’s a “strong team” as to keep the selected players’ confidence high, and make clear that pressure is on the first choice players for places in the remaining fixtures of the season.
The man himself eluded to the importance of keeping spirits high and the players in the right frame of mind, saying that “mentality is always the part of the personality where you can improve most”. It’s clear he thinks it’s very important to keep working to cultivate a winning mentality, believing people “are not born as winners. For sure I don’t know one. So that means you have to become a winner. That’s what we tried”.
So expect most of the usual starters to play on Tuesday night, the manager says. Unless he’s lying and he’s going to play Ben Woodburn. We’ll find out soon.