Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool ‘on fire’ as they chase Premier League, Champions League double

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp takes part in a press conference at the training ground on the eve of a UEFA Champions league quarterfinal against FC Porto. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2019

Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool ‘on fire’ as they chase Premier League, Champions League double

  • German believes being in the running to win both competitions is inspiring his squad
  • Reds thrashed the Portuguese side 5-0 in last season’s Champions League

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his players are revelling in the pressure to win every game as they chase a Premier League and Champions League double.
Klopp’s men host Porto in the first leg of their European quarter-final tie on Tuesday after scoring late winners to beat Fulham, Tottenham and Southampton to edge two points ahead of Manchester City in a titanic title race.
City still have a game in hand on Liverpool, meaning the title remains in the English champions’ hands, and there is precious little room for error for the Reds in their remaining five league games.
But Klopp believes being in the running to win both competitions is inspiring his squad not to give up late in games.
“It’s such a good time. We get up every morning and the weather is good as well which is pretty rare. It’s warm outside, spring is coming and we are in the two big competitions, but we have to use the situation,” he said on Monday.
“We have not finished the season, we have not finished our development.
“We want to write a few proper things on the pages of that season book. We are on fire to be honest, you can see it in training, but other teams as well. We all play for a lot.”
After squeezing through a difficult group containing Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli on goals scored and overcoming German giants Bayern Munich in the last 16, Porto were seen as a softer draw in the last eight.
Liverpool thrashed the Portuguese side 5-0 in last season’s Champions League last 16, but Klopp said the tie is tougher than it seems.
“People around said so many things, ‘you want Porto’, they only look at numbers and names, stuff like that.
“People with a proper idea about football didn’t want to have Porto, that’s the truth. But nobody wanted Liverpool as well by the way.”
Klopp will be forced into a change at left-back, with Andy Robertson suspended, while Joe Gomez will not be rushed back into action despite returning to training after a lower leg fracture.
Liverpool have largely coped without Gomez thanks to Virgil van Dijk’s towering presence at the heart of a much-improved defense.
And the Dutchman believes he and his teammates will be able to hold their heads high even if they fall short of ending a 29-year wait to win the Premier League due to City’s brilliance.
“Everyone is dreaming of it and the unlucky bit for us is another team in the league has been amazing as well,” said Van Dijk.
“For the neutral Premier League watcher it is great viewing, it is nice to see two good teams challenging for the title.
“Hopefully it can be something great at the end of the season, but we can hold our heads up very high.”


Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

Updated 05 June 2020

Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

  • Games pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak

TOKYO: Tokyo will scrap events marking a year to go until the postponed 2020 Olympic Games, organizers said Friday, citing the “current economic situation” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Games have been pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the disease outbreak, though it remains unclear whether even that delay will be sufficient.
Last year, the city and organizers held a series of events to mark the one-year countdown, including unveiling the newly designed medals.
But given the global crisis, organizers ruled out a similar celebration.
“In view of the current economic situation, Tokyo 2020 will not be holding any events to mark the new one year to go milestone for the Games,” the organizers said.
“But we will consider what we can do to show our solidarity with the people.”
The confirmation came after reports in the Japanese media that organizers would scrap the event, fearing it was inappropriate given the global pandemic and the ongoing risk of infection inside Japan.
Kyodo News agency reported that posters and messages of encouragement to athletes might be put up and displayed online instead, adding that the organizing committee felt a more “moderate tone” was appropriate.
A nationwide state of emergency over the virus has been lifted in Japan, but a recent rise in cases in Tokyo has led to fears of a second wave.
The latest reports come after Tokyo’s governor confirmed the city and organizers are looking at ways to scale back next year’s Games.
Japanese media said streamlining plans could involve cutting the number of spectators and reducing participation in the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Yomiuri Shimbun daily quoted an unnamed source as saying that everyone including athletes, officials and spectators would be required to take a test for the virus.
Tokyo 2020 declined to comment on those reports, saying discussions about coronavirus countermeasures would be held “from this autumn onwards.”
Organizers and Tokyo officials face the twin headaches of ensuring the postponed Games can be held safely, given the pandemic, and keeping additional costs to a minimum.
But with the pandemic continuing to rage in much of the world, it remains unclear whether the Games can be held next year.
On Friday, a member of the organizing committee’s executive board said a decision on whether the Games could be held or not would need to be taken in spring.
“I think we need to decide around March next year,” Toshiaki Endo, a former Olympic minister told reporters, denying speculation that the IOC intends to make a decision in October.
IOC chief Thomas Bach said last month that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.
He declined to say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them behind closed doors.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it would be “difficult” to hold the postponed Tokyo Olympics if the coronavirus pandemic is not contained.
And Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has said the Olympics would have to be canceled if the disease isn’t under control by next year.