Football

Liverpool have no room for error in tough Group B: Klopp

Liverpool must hit the ground running in their Champions League opener against AC Milan tomorrow morning (Singapore time), as a tough group that includes Atletico Madrid and Porto will leave no room for error, Reds boss Juergen Klopp said yesterday.

The Reds and Rossoneri contested two finals in 2005 and 2007, each winning one, and Klopp said the Group B fixture at Anfield was among the "must-watch" games in the first stage of the competition.

Said the German: "This group will be exciting from the first second to the last second. I can't see any early decisions made in this group and it keeps us on our toes."

Liverpool famously came back from 3-0 down in the 2005 final to win on penalties in what became known as the "Miracle of Istanbul".

Klopp said he nearly switched off the TV when Milan led 3-0 at half-time, but was glad he watched the whole game.

Both teams met in the final again in Athens two years later, with Milan winning. But, since then, the Rossoneri have not gone past the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition.

But current coach Stefano Pioli has a promising team on his hands with progress made since his arrival in 2019.

Sunday's 2-0 win over Lazio at the San Siro has propelled them to second in Serie A, behind Jose Mourinho's AS Roma on goal difference.

Both have a 100 per cent record after three games, along with third-placed Napoli.

Asked whether his side were dreaming of going far in Europe, Pioli said: "We should only be dreaming at night. In the day, we need to work hard to realise those dreams."

But legendary coach Arrigo Sacchi, who led Milan to the European Cup twice, told AFP that Pioli is on the right track.

"I've known Pioli for a long time, because he is from Parma, where I worked for a few years," he said. "Back then, he was already an excellent tactical coach, but he was one who couldn't quite transmit an identity to his teams.

"He's gone onto the next level now though, as his team has a style."

Pioli will be without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Anfield.

The Swede, who turns 40 next month, scored seven minutes into his return to action on Sunday after a four-month lay-off due to knee injury. But he is out again with an inflamed Achilles tendon.

The Reds will miss teenage midfielder Harvey Elliott, who will be undergoing surgery after suffering a serious ankle injury in Sunday's 3-0 win at Leeds United. - AFP, REUTERS

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