Jurgen Klopp has dismissed the idea that Liverpool’s Europa League participation could adversely affect their domestic performances.
Liverpool win 1-0 at Rubin Kazan on Thursday night and had a late flight back from Russia – meaning they have managed only one full training session ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game with Crystal Palace.
Klopp has played down the talk of tiredness previously and he once again denied that should be a factor speaking at his Saturday lunchtime press conference at Melwood.
Klopp said: “If we had travelled by train or car, then it would be a problem. But we slept on the plane. Ask Matt (McCann, head of press), he slept all the way home!
“I’m 48, not the best age maybe, but I slept well. So when we came back, it was normal. It’s a normal journey, a normal thing to do if you want to play international tournament. It’s the same if you come back Wednesday morning and play Saturday.
“Of course it’s better if you don’t play midweek, but it’s only an advantage for Palace if we are not prepared to fight. If we wait for an easy game against Palace then we have no chance.
“But if we fight and try to find solutions, we can do it. We are fit, we are healthy, young, and we can do it.
“I heard old stories from Michael Zorc (sporting director at Borussia Dortmund), who told me that sometimes after a midweek game, the first half is difficult, but then the second half is easier. It’s like a long warm up, but it’s only if the players are calm and focused that it can happen.
“I didn’t have to teach the players how to play football. Brendan’s work had done that.
“Crystal Palace are difficult to play against. They’re really tall, and you have to play special. We know about their transition game, their plan, and we try to be prepared.
“It’s not a big difference, because we played against Chelsea who were very organised and deep, and we played against Kazan too who were the same. If we have the ball, Palace will do something similar. We have to be ready.”
Klopp, who has been seen hugging his players after games, was asked about his first month in the Anfield hot-seat.
“Seven games in four weeks, it feels like longer.
“Players don’t have a choice whether they want a hug or not after a game,” he said. “I don’t know what happens to me in these moments, but it’s my special thing.”
Klopp has confirmed that Philippe Coutinho will be fit to face Palace at Anfield on Sunday.
Coutinho sat out Thursday’s Europa League win over Rubin, but he will be fine for the visit of Palace tomorrow.
Adam Lallana, Martin Skrtel and Lucas Leiva, who appeared only as second-half substitutes, are also in line to return.
“Coutinho is okay,” Klopp said. “He told me he was okay on Thursday too. The same with Adam who played some minutes.
“We had some small problems after the game in Kazan, which is normal, and we have to wait until the last hours to see who can play, but there is nothing serious.
“We can make changes, we played without Martin, Lucas, Phil, Adam, so we have other players who can play. I have to see the training, go with my feeling, and make my decision.”