Klopp 'not surprised' by Elliott display for Liverpool in win
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Liverpool fans have labelled their Champions League draw the ‘group of death’ after being drawn alongside Atletico Madrid, Porto and AC Milan. The Reds qualified for the competition following a stunning upturn in form which saw them finish third in the Premier League last term.
Boss Jurgen Klopp had written off the club’s chances of finishing in the Premier League’s top four as late as March after a horrendous period of form.
Liverpool lost their near four-year unbeaten home record and went on to lose five consecutive matches at Anfield during a disastrous spell just after Christmas.
But Klopp’s side regrouped and went on a storming 10-match unbeaten run to soar up the table.
Thursday’s Champions League draw his pitted them against Atletico, Porto and AC Milan in Group B. A trip to the Spanish side will mean playing at the stadium where they last won the tournament in 2019.
The overwhelming feeling on social media among fans appeared to be of trepidation. None of their opponents finished below second in their respective divisions in the 2020-21 season.
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“Can’t help but think we’ve got the group of death,” one fan tweeted alongside an embarrassed-face emoji.
“Looks like @LFC have drawn this year’s group of death. Great,” one Reds fan sighed.
Others suggested that the club’s league form might suffer with such difficult matches.
“LFC with the group of death, man,” a fan lamented alongside a frown emoji and a crying-face emoji. “We can beat these! But the league form will definitely suffer and vice versa to do it.”
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Another supporter pointed out that the club’s improved squad depth will help them get through the group.
Klopp had to contend with a devastating injury crisis for most of last season. Virgil van Dijk’s season was ended prematurely in October and the Dutchman has only recently returned from his ACL injury.
Fellow defenders Joel Matip and Joe Gomez also missed large parts of the campaign, meaning that youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips formed a partnership for the final months.
Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fabinho similarly suffered a long-term injuries. Liverpool have also signed centre-back Ibrahima Konate to ease their defensive issues.
“After what happened last season, it is amazing that we have incredible depth in centre-back position,” the fan said.
“We could easily play VVD & Matip in the Premier League and Gomez & Ibou (Konate) in the Champions League. There will be no appreciable drop in quality and we will be fine. Bring on the group of Death.”
Others criticised their fellow supporters for fearing their opponents. They pointed out that winning such a tough group would mean knocking strong teams out of the tournament and therefore having an easier route at a later stage.
“Why is everyone calling this the group of death?” a fan pleaded. “like seriously… if you want to win the thing, groups like this you should get through.”
Liverpool’s first Group B clash will be played on either September 14 or 15.
The Premier League’s other Champions League clubs had slightly less difficult draws.
European champions Chelsea will play Juventus, Zenit St. Petersburg and Malmo.
Manchester City were drawn against Paris Saint-Germain, a tie which could see Cristiano Ronaldo play against Lionel Messi if the Portuguese forward completes his rumoured move to the Premier League champions. Pep Guardiola’s side will also play RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.
A repeat of last season’s Europa League final has put Manchester United up against Villarreal in a group which also features Atalanta and Young Boys.
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