Liverpool might be seven points up on Manchester City, and Pep Guardiola might be talking up the Reds as the best team in Europe at the moment, but Jürgen Klopp isn’t having any of it, with the Liverpool manager shrugging off suggestions his side are favourites.
When it comes to Thursday’s game at The Etihad and the season as a whole, City are still, well, City. Defending champions, the best side over the past 18 months, and quite possibly the most talented and deepest squad in the game. That’s what Klopp thinks.
“They are a really strong football team with an outstanding manager,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference. “We have to be brave and full of desire and angry again, as with all the games. But for me, they are still the best team in the world. That’s how it is.
“Because of the way they play and the things they have achieved and will achieve and all that changed, so nothing changed just the points can change but that does not. [Guardiola] said we are in a good moment, 100%, and we area very good team as well.”
It isn’t playing down Liverpool’s quality—or their chances on Thursday against City or in the league over the rest of the season—to acknowledge that. Liverpool are a very good team, one of the best in Europe. But a few bad results doesn’t change what City are.
And City were, clearly, the best team in England last season. The best team in August and September and October and November of this season. Liverpool may well win on Thursday, but it won’t be because all of that has changed over the period of a month.
If Liverpool win it will be because they are a good team and they prepare well for what’s to come and then play to their best—if they’re brave and full of desire and angry again. No matter the past month, they will have to earn any result they get on Thursday.
“Some people talk about it like we will go there now and be the team most likely to win, but that is not true,” Klopp added. “A couple of weeks ago we were behind a point and if we lose we are four points behind and can we close that gap during the season?
“It’s all only talk. It’s talk, and a big part of the football world is talking about things before they happen and so we are here now to try to make them happen. It’s an interesting game, yes, and we are really excited, but apart from that it is a normal situation.”