(Reuters) – Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp says he feels no extra pressure to deliver the team’s first Club World Cup title next month but expects an intense tournament in Qatar amidst a busy run of fixtures across all competitions.
Liverpool enter the tournament at the semi-final stage and face a second-round winner on Dec. 18 and the German believes the European champions could be pushed hard by unfamiliar opponents in the seven-team competition.
“I’m not someone who has to be the first on the moon or the first winning the World Cup with Liverpool, but when we’re there we’ll try with all we have,” Klopp told the FIFA website https://www.fifa.com/clubworldcup/news/klopp-liverpool-club-world-cup-qatar-2019.
“So far, I don’t feel any pressure. I see it as an absolute opportunity… the interesting and difficult part is that we’ll be playing against teams from other continents, which doesn’t happen that often… it’ll be a tough one for sure.”
The teams involved in the Dec. 11-21 tournament are CONCACAF champions Monterrey of Mexico; Qatar champions Al Sadd; Oceania title holders Hienghene Sport of New Caledonia; African champions Esperance of Tunisia; the eventual South American champions and the Asian Champions League winners.
“We’ll prepare for it as we would usually and we’ll see if it’s right or wrong… I don’t get to see a lot of Brazilian, Argentinian, Mexican or Arabic football… so I don’t know too much about them… It’ll be really intense,” added Klopp.
Liverpool outclassed Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the Champions League final in June to claim their sixth European Cup and followed that by beating Europa League winners Chelsea 5-4 on penalties to lift the UEFA Super Cup.
Klopp’s side have an eight-point lead atop the Premier League as they target a first English title in 30 years and can add another trophy to their cabinet before the year ends.
“Unfortunately, we won’t round off 2019 in that moment (with the Club World Cup trophy) because there will be games to come before the year ends,” said Klopp, whose side play 12 games across four competitions between Nov. 23 and Jan. 2.
Such is the fixture crunch that Liverpool could field two different squads in the League Cup quarter-final on Dec. 17 and Club World Cup the following day due to a lack of available dates to postpone the domestic game.
Klopp said he would not take the Club World Cup for granted.
“The only reason for us to go there is for the opportunity to win it and that’s what we’ll try… the boys want to play it so it’ll be interesting… it’ll feel big for us, 100%.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)