Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: ‘We ask too much of weary World Cup stars’

Updated 14 September 2018
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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: ‘We ask too much of weary World Cup stars’

  • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes too much demand is placed on international stars
  • he likes of England captain Harry Kane, midfielder Dele Alli and victorious French skipper Hugo Lloris are tiring

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes too much demand is placed on international stars who have had barely any rest following the World Cup.
Klopp’s men play away in the early Premier League kick-off on Saturday against Tottenham who had nine players involved on the final weekend of the World Cup, less than a month before the start of their Premier League campaign.
The likes of England captain Harry Kane, midfielder Dele Alli and victorious French skipper Hugo Lloris were thrown straight back into action by Mauricio Pochettino.
But Alli and Lloris are now sidelined by injury, while Kane has looked jaded in the opening weeks of the season.
“A good pre-season should be at least three or four weeks,” said Klopp. “That is how it is, the body needs the time only to calm down from an intense season — they didn’t have it.
“We ask too much from the players, we constantly want them ready and if they are not we are not happy. It is a weird situation.
“Now with the Nations League, international managers cannot rest players because it is a proper competition. It is a constant challenge for all of us.”
Liverpool were less affected by the demands of World Cup action than their title rivals and it has shown in their fine start to the season with four straight Premier League wins to sit top of the table.
Klopp has bedded captain Jordan Henderson slowly back into action, while Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s early exits in Russia with Egypt and Senegal meant they had a few weeks of pre-season training.
Kane has been a constant scourge of Liverpool, scoring five times in seven appearances against the Reds, including twice in a 4-1 thrashing at Wembley last season.
And Klopp is sure Kane will find his best form, even if he hopes it comes after Saturday.
“We all knew it after the World Cup, especially after England came that far, they have had no rest,” added Klopp.
“Harry played from the first match on, so maybe he had two weeks holiday — that is nothing.
“He is a physical worker, he uses his body every day. He cannot get a rest match-wise but he will find his form and maybe at the weekend.”


India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

Updated 18 September 2018
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India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

  • India brace for Pakistan after surviving stern test against minnows Hong Kong
  • Usman Shinwari: Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high

DUBAI: As delirium sweeps the UAE ahead of the mouth-watering encounter between arch rivals India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup, it seems one man — at least outwardly — is not as excited as the rest of the country and cricketing fans the world over.
India captain Rohit Sharma played with a straight bat when asked about the biggest clash in world cricket, set to take place today at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. On his first Asia Cup media outing the 31-year-old seemed unconcerned by the impending showdown with their fiercest opponents, his focus instead on facing Hong Kong, who Sharma and Co. had a big scare against on Tuesday.
“Right now, we are not focusing on Pakistan as (first) we are playing Hong Kong,” Sharma said on Sunday. “Obviously we have to focus on that particular team but once we have finished that game we will focus on Pakistan and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
These are clearly the words of a man so media trained that by now he could easily be on the other side of the desk, asking the same questions he and his colleagues sometimes enjoy batting back with crafted clichés that speak of focusing on “one game at a time” or the like.
Sharma was clearly right to not take his eyes off the ball with Hong Kong — they are not here to merely make up the numbers, as their brilliant, battling performance on Tuesday illustrated. But at the same time, Sharma will be all too aware that as India skipper the one match you do not want to lead your side to defeat in is the one against Pakistan, regardless of competition and location.
Clearly India are not leaving Pakistan preparations to the 14 hours or so (sleep included) between the close of the Hong Kong clash and the toss prior to resuming Indo-Pak cricketing rivalry. To suggest they are would be naive at best.
A year on from Pakistan’s show-stealing Champions Trophy final victory over the old enemy in June last year, and a whole five years since the two sides met outside of an ICC or ACC event due to strained political relations, the appetite for the first of potentially three matches at this year’s Asia Cup is huge and one borne out of starved hunger.
Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari, fresh off defeating Hong Kong on Sunday, was more candid than Sharma.
“Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high, and every player dreams of doing well in this contest,” the fast bowler said. “I took three wickets (against Hong Kong), I hope that can be five wickets against India.”
Shinwari’s sentiments were echoed by his captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, who is absolutely clear on the levels of expectation that this fixture demands from fans on both sides of the border.
“The passion is always there,” said Sarfraz. “When you play against India everyone wants us to win as it’s against India.
“The fans say that whatever happens you have to win but as a captain I have to win against every team. It would be the same for India whose fans want them to win. It has happened in the past that any player who performs in the Indo-Pak match becomes a national hero.”
UAE cricket fans cannot wait for the clash. It took just a few hours for the first batch of tickets to be snapped up, the second bought in equally ravenous fashion. It has left a huge number of tickets now being touted across online marketplaces, social media platforms and, ultimately, will likely see the inflated resales being pawned outside the stadium on matchday too.
An expected 25,000 fans will swell the Ring of Fire, set to deal not only with cricket’s most fierce rivalry but also with all the unpredictability that will be thrown their way.
The famed traffic jams around Hessa Street, leading up to the stadium, and local entrances of Dubai Sports City will heave and efforts have been made to ease the burden of vehicles that will cart both sets of fans in and out of the area. Gates will open from 12p.m. local time, a whole three and a half hours before the first ball has been bowled. In an emirate where the last-minute rush is a daily fact of life, this will be not be an easy thing to execute but that, alongside the immense presence of volunteers and security, should prove welcome additions to the day’s running order.
This, though, is India vs Pakistan. Anything could happen.