Doha - Liverpool
manager Jurgen Klopp has responded to suggestions the Club World Cup
doesn't matter by insisting Saturday's final against Flamengo represents
a "massive opportunity" for the Anfield club.
Klopp's team have taken time out from their Premier League title push
to come to Qatar for a competition that is viewed differently in Europe
to the rest of the world.
While Flamengo fans have travelled to Doha in large numbers to back
their team's bid to become the first South American winners since 2012,
few Liverpool supporters would rather see their side lift the Club World
Cup than win a first English title in 30 years, or retain the Champions
"It is not an advantage or a disadvantage, but the situation is
different. Flamengo got sent here with a clear order to win it and to
come back as heroes, and we got told to stay at home and play the
Carabao Cup," Klopp said at Friday's pre-final press conference at the
Khalifa International Stadium.
His comments came after Liverpool sent out a team of academy players
for their League Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa on Tuesday,
losing 5-0, while their senior squad travelled to Doha for Wednesday's
2-1 semi-final win over Monterrey of Mexico.
"The view in Europe is completely different to the view in the rest
of the world, but that view has changed for me since I was here.
"For us it is really special now. We are here so we want to give it a
proper try. Yes we feel the tension in this situation but we feel it's a
While for Flamengo the game comes at the end of a successful season
in which they won the Brazilian title and the Copa Libertadores,
Liverpool are not even halfway through their Premier League campaign.
After Saturday's final they will return home to prepare for next
Thursday's trip to second-placed Leicester City, the first of three
league games in eight days.
"If Flamengo goes back and they win they will have a proper party,
and we play Leicester City. For us it's different but who cares, that's
how it is. It's the most important in the moment because we are here,"
Liverpool may have won
the European Cup for the sixth time in June, but they have never won
this competition, losing the final to Sao Paulo in 2005. They also lost
3-0 to Zico's Flamengo in the old Intercontinental Cup in 1981.
"We are making this big for ourselves because this is important, a
chance to put our names in the history of the club," said Liverpool's
Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson, who watched as a 14-year-old fan when his
team, Internacional, beat Barcelona to win the trophy in 2006.
Klopp is hopeful Virgil van Dijk will be able to play after illness
kept the Dutchman out of the Monterrey game, meaning Jordan Henderson
partnered Joe Gomez in central defence.
He was also full of praise for their Portuguese coach, Jorge Jesus, who has had a remarkable impact in his six months in charge.
"He has obviously done an incredible job since he has been there. I
think if there were an election at the moment he could become president
of Brazil, even if he's from Portugal," the German joked.
"The work he's doing in Brazil, and that he did before in Europe,
gives him the opportunity to go to a European club again if he wants,
but maybe Rio is such a nice city that he wants to stay."
Under Jesus, Flamengo - Brazil's best supported club - have won a
first Brazilian title in a decade and the Copa Libertadores was their
first since 1981.
"We are coming off a great season and we are two similar teams in
terms of how we have recovered our prestige internationally," said the
65-year-old, although he indicated that the comparisons between the
clubs should stop there.
"When a European team gets to the final of the Club World Cup, they have the best players in the world."