Jürgen Klopp can use unprecedented situation to hand Liverpool double Premier League title boost
When the initial group was drawn, there was trepidation and anxiety. Liverpool’s record of qualifying out of every single Champions League group under Jürgen Klopp looked under threat.
Four games in, it has been anything but ‘tough’. Group of death? Liverpool survived and then some.
Liverpool’s 2021/22 Champions League campaign has been a cruise in the park and Klopp’s side are already through to the next round of the competition as group winners.
There were muted smiles following the final whistle against Atlético Madrid. As Klopp got yet another victory over his old foe, he was not one to brag and remained deferential in victory.
Even in his post-match press conference, the Liverpool boss had a nonchalant demeanour despite the amicable achievement. An achievement none of the club’s English counterparts have been able to reach this season.
But the Liverpool boss will know the Reds results in Europe mean he now has an envious advantage in the Premier League, and he will be able to use the Champions League as a competition to experiment much like the League Cup.
Klopp will want to avoid embarrassment, but he knows he can prioritise Liverpool’s league matches amidst a difficult run of Premier League fixtures against tricky opponents like West Ham United and Arsenal.
Either side of FC Porto (H) and Arsenal (H) and Southampton (H), while AC Milan (A) is bookended by Wolves (A) and Aston Villa (H), all crucial matches in the league that Liverpool need to win.
The Champions League could see Klopp feature a heavily rotated side, giving some of the club’s youngsters important experiences in Europe.
The likes of Kaide Gordon and Tyler Morton have impressed in pre-season and in League Cup outings, and they could be handed opportunities to test themselves against tough European opposition in AC Milan and Porto with those ties essentially meaningless fixtures for Klopp’s side.
Bayern Munich were in a similar situation last season, and Bayern boss, Hans-Dieter Flick used the games to trial some of his less experienced players.
Jamal Musiala was given his first Champions League start in the fifth round of the competition that season, and the German international used that opportunity to his advantage establishing himself as a key component of Bayern’s Champions League encounters during the rest of the competition.
Gordon, Morton and co will be hoping to make a similar impact knowing a good performance could elevate their status in Liverpool’s pecking order.
Klopp will be reticent to change the entirety of his squad, and he will keep some of Liverpool’s core in order to avoid suffering embarrassment, but he now has a free rein.
Liverpool fans can sit back and watch it all unfold with zero trepidation knowing that the Premier League is now in full focus until February.