Jürgen Klopp wants his players to respect but not fear Paris Saint-Germain and to defend from the front in tonight’s Champions League opener as Liverpool prepare to kick off their European campaign in a headlining match between two of the competition’s favourites.
“Tottenham, if you like, was quite a good preparation because it is not exactly the same quality but it is high quality,” was Klopp’s response when asked about preparing for the threat of Paris Saint-Germain and attackers Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani.
“We all know what they are capable of. We avoided [giving chances to Tottenham] with our offensive defending and we need to do it again. If you let them pass in specific areas they decide alone if they score or not or you must then make an outstanding save or whatever.”
Against Tottenham, Liverpool pressed their entire team high up the pitch, cutting off their options in the buildup phase and daring Spurs to try to beat them with long balls over the top. Tottenham never managed it, and Klopp is hinting at a similar tactic for PSG.
In Neymar and Mbappe and Cavani, though, PSG have more pace up top to hit the ball to over the top than Spurs, which means Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez in particular will have to be in top form—and it will mean trying to make PSG hurry every pass they make.
“We are quite good at respecting them without being afraid of them,” Klopp added. “You have to make everyone aware of how important it is to avoid giving them an easy pass. Avoid that and you have a chance. Don’t and you have no chance.”