Jurgen Klopp is expecting a ‘tough game’ as Liverpool prepare to face Flamengo in the final of the Club World Cup this weekend.
The European champions progressed to this weekend’s showpiece courtesy of a late 2-1 semi-final win over Mexico’s Monterrey on Wednesday evening, Roberto Firmino scoring a stoppage-time winner for the Reds after Rogelio Funes Mori had cancelled out Naby Keita’s opener.
Liverpool‘s reward is a final meeting with Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo of Brazil, who booked their place courtesy of a come-from-behind victory against Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal earlier this week.
Despite Liverpool being odds-on favourites to be crowned world Champions, Klopp insists he is expecting ‘a really tough’ encounter when the two sides meet in Qatar on Saturday evening.
“Tough game, really tough game. We watched the game (semi-final) and we will watch more games,” Klopp said in his post-match press conference.
“One game is important but it is not all about that. We will be a different opponent of course. That’s how it is.
“We will analyse them and then we will think about our next opponent. We don’t base things on one game, I don’t believe in that. We have to watch two or three games and that’s what I will do.
“We will have to be ready for a really tough game. Next to our hotel, before the game, the Flamengo fans celebrated already before their game, they had a proper party, so they have a couple of supporters here and so for them it is important, for us it’s important and we will have to see who deals with that situation better.”
Liverpool fielded a heavily rotated side for their semi-final clash with Monterrey, a lack of fit options in central defence seeing captain Jordan Henderson utilised in an unorthodox defensive position. James Milner also deputised at right-back, whilst Sadio Mane and Firmino were named amongst the substitutes.
Dutch internationals Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum both missed the club’s last four clash, and Klopp admits he is unsure whether the duo will return to fitness in time for Saturday evening’s showpiece.
“I don’t know who will be ready for the next game (for us). Flamengo’s season is over so they are here with pretty much a full squad,” Klopp added.
“We have to recover as quick as possible and make ourselves ready. We saw Flamengo in the other semi-final and it was an open game for a long period so we will see.
“As a European manager (Flamengo boss Jorge Jesus) he has a European influence but if there was not a European coach it would still be difficult but he is very successful in Portugal and now in Brazil and we have a lot of respect for them. In the end, we will try our best.”