While Liverpool fans are still working through the fallout of the disastrous and infuriating Merseyside derby and the news that Virgil van Dijk will miss the rest of the season, Jürgen Klopp and the players don’t have that luxury. The show must go on, through ACL injuries and pandemics and whatever else, and so Liverpool have to shake this off and prepare to begin their Champions League campaign.
Their first group stage match will take place this Wednesday against the Dutch champions, Ajax. In terms of European royalty, this is quite the match up. When the Reds step foot into Johan Cruyff Stadium, together the two teams will have 10 European Cups between them.
Klopp, who faced Ajax when he managed Borussia Dortmund, is well aware of the storied history of the club and is looking forward to the challenge ahead of the Reds.
“If you think, and if you thought in the past, about European football Liverpool was 100 per cent involved and Ajax as well, so that’s how it is,” Klopp said. “One of the highlights of my time at Dortmund was for sure the two games against Ajax, just for a personal reason. You think: ‘OK, you want to play in this stadium against a young, very exciting team.’”
In more recent history, Klopp pointed to the Dutch club making it all the way to the semi-final in 2018-19 when Liverpool took home their sixth cup.
“Two years, or one-and-a-half years, ago they played an exceptional Champions League campaign, absolutely exceptional. The way they played, wow. All good but we didn’t play them that year, it would have been only possible in the final and that didn’t happen because of Tottenham. So, now we meet and I’m excited.”
The show goes on, and if Liverpool could win on Wednesday, it will go a long way to raising flagging spirits.