Video: Liverpool champions of Europe but Jurgen Klopp says Man City are best team in the world

Sport360 staff 17/09/2019
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His team may be reigning champions of Europe but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has declared Manchester City the best team in the world.

The 2018/19 Champions League winners prepare to start their title defence against Napoli at Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday, the two teams also met in the group stage a year ago.

Klopp said in relation to a question about Liverpool being the best side in Europe: “We can’t be the best team in Europe because Man City are the best team in the world, that’s the same planet, I heard.

“There are a lot of good teams out there, and you have to prove that constantly. Last year we were really good. I am not sure we were the best team in Europe but we were really good in the right moments.”









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Champions League: Trent Alexander-Arnold confident Liverpool will cope with pressure of being holders

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Trent Alexander-Arnold insists Liverpool can handle the pressure of being European champions as they set about trying to retain the trophy.

The right-back knows the Reds have a target on their back after their Champions League triumph in June against Tottenham.

Liverpool open their defence on Tuesday night in Italy against Napoli, a side they also faced in last season’s group stage.

“We’ve probably got a big target on our backs now because we are European champions,” said Alexander-Arnold, whose side lead the Premier League by five points with five wins from the first five games.

“Everyone wants to beat us. We’re the team to beat right now so it’s exciting for us.

“We need to try and defend the honour as much as possible and try and retain it if we can.

“A lot of the players that we have are world-class players, they know what it takes to win things, what it takes to be successful, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to embrace that as a team. I think we have so far this season in the Premier League.

“We obviously know that last season we did so well so this season we’re up there again. But we need to be ready for all types of tests.”

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli will certainly pose a tough test. The Serie A side beat them 1-0, through a late Lorenzo Insigne goal, in this corresponding fixture last season.

It was a below-par performance that Kop manager Jurgen Klopp described as their “worst” in Europe.

“It was a tough game,” recalled Alexander-Arnold. “We were really stretched as a side, we weren’t defending properly. We just weren’t organised at all.

“We really struggled to get to grips with the game and we were punished late doors. We probably thought that we’d done enough to get the point.

“With the last five minutes to go, you’re probably thinking ‘we’ve got away with one here’ and then you switch off for a minute, and they creep in with a last-minute goal and you’re gutted you’re going home with no points.

“It’s one of those we’ll learn from it, we’ll push forward and hopefully go there and be able to get a better result than we did last year.

“We know that being able to keep clean sheets and being able to win games away from home are massively important – especially in the Champions League when you’ve probably only got one or two chances to beat teams and get results.

“You’re playing in Europe’s elite, you’re going to get less chances than what you do in the Premier League so it’s about maximising those chances and minimalising the opposition.”

Napoli also beat the Reds 3-0 in a pre-season friendly in Edinburgh where Insigne shone and Alexander-Arnold, 20, knows they have to beware the industrious and inventive Italian frontman.

“He’s a great player, probably a little bit underrated in terms of the respect and the plaudits that he gets,” said the England international.

“But he’s a real fantastic player. I think his team-mates will say the same and the people that come up against him will say how tricky he is to actually nullify. He’s a good player, they’ve got many a good player and we need to be ready for that.

“He’s someone who really helps them play football, understands the way that they want to play, really encourages the team to play out, able to hit [it to] him and he’ll be able to hold the ball up.

“He’s a really tricky player, really strong, fast, quite agile. He’s kind of like Eden Hazard I’d say, that type of player who is tricky to get hold of and mark. Coming up against him’s always a tough test, but they’re the things that you expect in the Champions League.”

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Sadio Mane is main man for Liverpool, a wake-up call and other Newcastle talking points

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Sadio Mane struck twice to maintain his fine goalscoring form and Liverpool’s 100-per-cent start to the season in a 3-1 win against Newcastle United.

The visitors had last won at Anfield in the Premier League 25 years ago, but Jetro Willems stunned the leaders in the seventh minute when he collected a pass on the left, cut inside Trent Alexander-Arnold and then unleashed a fierce strike into the top corner.

It took a similar effort to level a keenly-fought encounter in the 28th minute. Andrew Robertson set up Mane for a curling finish.

And it was the Senegal striker who claimed the crucial second, and his sixth of the season, five minutes before the break.

Roberto Firmino, on as a sub for the injured Divock Origi just three minutes earlier, played a pass through. The ball, somehow, went over the diving Martin Dubravka and there was Mane to compound the misery of the Newcastle keeper by slotting into the empty net.

The third goal came courtesy of Mohamed Salah in the 72nd minute, a left-foot finish, after a wonderful flick by Firmino.

MANE THE MAIN MAN

Manager Jurgen Klopp and team-mates were keen to play down Sadio Mane’s show of dissent after being substituted at Burnley, but many understood the frontman’s frustration.

There is little doubt that Mane is currently Liverpool’s biggest inspiration in attack, arguably their best player.

Lively and lethal, he is producing moments of quality that matter in games. Be it goals or assists.

It used to be Salah, but, although he was on target, the Egyptian has struggled to show the class and consistency of old.

Mane has stepped up and how the Reds needed him to do so yesterday as they found Newcastle resolute opponents.

He took his tally to six in all competitions this season and his brace was a combination of sublime and simple.

Managers don’t take off their best players unless they are injured or being given a rest before the next game. Mane should be afforded that status.

WAKE-UP CALL FOR SLOPPY REDS

“Wake up,” wailed a Liverpool fan nearby. Anfield was strangely quiet after Newcastle took an early lead so the criticism could be heard loudly.

He was not the only one to voice his displeasure, though, as another pass was misplaced.

It was a sloppy and subdued start from the leaders. They were being pressed in the same manner as other teams usually opposing the Reds – and they didn’t like it.

The normally reliable Robertson was particularly culpable and yet again this was an indication of how Liverpool’s much-vaunted defence of last season is susceptible under pressure.

Better teams will take greater advantage and punish such mistakes.

Napoli, and their livewire Lorenzo Insigne, are up next in the Champions League and Klopp’s men can’t afford to be as slack.

They also had far greater control when Roberto Firmino came on and provided the perfect link between defence, midfield and attack. Liverpool may still be unbeaten, but there is room for improvement.

PROMISING SIGNS OF PROGRESS FOR TOON

It has been a tough start for Steve Bruce since taking charge at Newcastle, but there are clear signs of progress and potential.

Until Mane’s fine equaliser, they had squeezed Liverpool to the extent the hosts were giving the ball away cheaply and forced to send hopeful, hopeless long balls into the box.

With a five-man backline and full-backs Jetro Willems and Emil Krafth encouraged to push forward against Trent Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, they were organised, fit and the tactics worked well.

Captain Jamaal Lascelles was strong in the middle of three centre-backs and made some timely interventions.

He had previously been tipped for England honours when coming through. Now working under Bruce, himself a distinguished former centre-back and Manchester United captain, Lascelles could take his game to another level if he learns and develops.

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