Football

Midtjylland not a ‘small team’ to be taken lightly: Juergen Klopp

Danish debutants Midtjylland are a credible threat and Liverpool do not see them as a "small team" in the Champions League, the English Premier League champions' boss Juergen Klopp said yesterday.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, GROUP D
LIVERPOOL MIDTJYLLAND

Midtjylland qualified for the Champions League group stage for the first time this season, but Klopp said he has been aware of their project even before he took the Liverpool job.

"We don't see (Midtjylland) as a small team. They are there because they earned the right to be there," Klopp said ahead of the match at Anfield tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

"I know the story of the club, the things they tried. Very interesting project. Five years ago, in my break, I was interested to go there... to see how things are done there, but then I signed for Liverpool.

"They are really good, it's a real challenge... They are a bit more direct in their build up. They have really experienced defenders, good footballing midfielders, speed on the wings, physicality in the centre up front. They have a clear plan."

Midtjylland, who defeated Manchester United 2-1 in the first leg of the Europa League's Round of 32 in 2016, have punched above their weight with a data-driven approach.

They will be hoping to capitalise on an injury crisis at Liverpool, who are set to be without midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita and defender Joel Matip.

With defensive lynchpin Virgil van Dijk also sidelined with a knee injury which could potentially rule him out for the rest of the season, Klopp's side have adapted with defensive midfielder Fabinho slotting into the backline.

"Every team in the world would miss Virgil van Dijk, he's the best centre-half in the world," said Klopp. "All the boys have played together with Virgil... They are not used to each other, as other pairings. That will get better." - REUTERS

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