Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool can cause a Champions League shock in knock-out stages, says Klopp

 

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side can be a threat in the knockout stages of the Champions League if they maintain their devastating form in front of goal.

A 7-0 win over Spartak Moscow took their tally for their European campaign to to 23, the second-highest in the competition's group stage history, bettered only by the 25 Paris St-Germain registered in Group B.

The Reds have scored 32 goals in an unbeaten nine-match run since losing to Tottenham in late October and are hitting top form at precisely the same time they began to run out of gas 12 months ago.

That should hopefully bode well for when the Champions League restarts in its knockout format in February.

Asked if his side would be a threat in the last 16, Klopp said: "If we perform like this tonight, if we are that clinical, then yes.

"But we had the same players already and they didn't score (in some previous games).

"If we perform like this then it is obviously a threat, 100 per cent. If you see how Dom Solanke performed in Stoke, how Daniel Sturridge performed when he came on, he could have scored two or three, he made a goal for Sadio, that's good."

Philippe Coutinho led the way with his first Liverpool hat-trick with Sadio Mane scoring twice, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah getting the others.

It meant Liverpool topped Group E and avoided the likes of PSG, Barcelona and Roma but could still draw Bayern Munich, Juventus or Real Madrid.

"We knew if we won we would top the group, so that's not the biggest surprise, but I think it's strange this year in the group stages," Klopp added.

"There are a lot of really strong teams. This year is quite special. Not often you can face Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, but Juventus and all the others. We will not be happy when we see who we face in the next round, but we will be ready."

Spartak boss Massimo Carrera struggled to defend his side's performance.

"I can't explain this," he said. "Liverpool were better in everything: in quality, in anger, in passion."

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