As a pioneer of counter-pressing football, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp says he knows exactly what to expect from Salzburg in their Champions League clash on Wednesday.
Austria’s Salzburg, managed by Jesse Marsch, play a similar brand of football to Klopp’s Liverpool, employing a high press to win the ball back early and transitioning from defence to attack at speed while opponents are still out of position. Klopp is credited with popularising the so-called ‘gegenpress’ in Germany when he was in charge of Mainz 05 and perfected the tactic at Borussia Dortmund before his arrival in England. “The way Salzburg plays is made to surprise bigger teams,” the German told a news conference on Tuesday. “But if there’s anybody in the world who knows more about the way they play, how they do what they do, then it’s probably me.
“I’ve followed that way for a long, long time. I had a similar idea when I started as a manager, so I know where the difficulties are.” Champions League holders Liverpool began their Group E campaign with a 2-0 defeat at Napoli. While facing Salzburg at home seems a much easier prospect than the trip to Naples, Klopp was at pains to stress there was no room for complacency. “It was always our target to be the most uncomfortable opponent in world football and if we are that tomorrow night then it will not be easy for Salzburg,” he said. “We don’t have even a little bit of feeling that this game tomorrow is already halfway done, it’s not… we have to start winning and we should not waste time.”
Salzburg’s 19-year-old striker Erling Haaland became the third-youngest player to net a Champions League hat-trick in their 6-2 win over Genk in their first match. “(He) looks on the pitch at least clear minded, focused, a proper threat,” Klopp said. “He’s not the only threat, unfortunately, from Salzburg but he is a proper one.” Liverpool will have to re-jig their back line for the tie, with Klopp confirming that centre back Joel Matip had picked up a knock at the weekend and would not be risked. Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri and goalkeeper Alisson Becker are still out with calf injuries, but the latter should be back in time to face Manchester United in the Premier League on Oct. 20.