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    Wednesday, 21 October 2020

    Ajax 0-1 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp's post match conference

    Jurgen Klopp was delighted Liverpool started their 2020-21 Champions League campaign with an 'important' 1-0 victory at AFC Ajax on Wednesday night

    Ajax 0-1 Liverpool; Jurgen Klopp's reaction.

    The Reds return from Amsterdam with three points in hand after Nicolas Tagliafico's first-half own goal decided the Group D encounter at Johan Cruyff Arena.

    Fabinho, operating as a centre-half for the fixture, ensured it stayed that way with a heroic goalline clearance to deny Ajax captain Dusan Tadic moments before half-time.

    Klopp, on what he made of the overall performance...

    "This situation is pretty much the picture of the game, so it was not the most easy-on-the-eye performance from both teams, I would say. Both teams can play better football. But especially in this competition when you play away, a lot of difficulties, pretty much the medical department made the line-up and then you have to win the game – and that's what the boys did. I think that was deserved, even when we had to clear one ball from the line and when they hit the post. Of course they had their moments but apart from that, we were pretty dominant on a difficult pitch for both teams. I think everybody knows that Ajax is usually a brilliant football team but tonight it was really tricky, the passing was difficult, so you could see that. But we won the game and I'm completely fine."

    On the changes he made during the game...

    "Curtis was tactical. The medical department told us Hendo cannot start and then it was pretty clear 45 should be possible. That's why Hendo came on and then we wanted the experience and a midfield that at least played a few times together, which helps in a game like this. The three upfront, you could see it was an intense game. The defensive transition was really important and if you do that, win the ball, then you have a big chance for the offensive transition. It was hard for the starting front three, so I was really happy that we could do that. I was really happy that we could make five changes tonight. Millie only got cramp, so that's fine. He will be fine. Then you can bring on Rhys and it was a long-ball festival and Rhys is pretty strong in the air, so that was nice as well. So a few nice stories in the game. It will not now be on the front page of our history book but it is an important one and I'm really happy with that."

    On Fabinho's display at centre-half...

    "How I said, this combination with Joey and Fabinho, I don't think they played together before if I'm 100 per cent right. Maybe once but I don't really know. So they need to get used to each other, they need to get used to the verbal demands in that position – what you have to say there to help the midfielders and all these kind of things. It was a really good performance but there's a lot to improve – how high or how low is the last line in which moment, in protection situations, in the pressing, 'How do we react there?' But it's no problem. For tonight it was absolutely good and now we carry on."

    On Sadio Mane having an ice pack on his leg after being withdrawn...

    "Sadio has since a few days a dead leg and deals with that in that area. That's the only thing why it's still painful but it's not a problem. When he doesn't play, he puts ice on it."

    On the importance of securing a clean sheet…

    "It is, but we are not dumb enough to think we didn’t need a little bit of luck for it because Fabinho needed to make a proper stretch to get that ball from the line, then they hit the post. So, a clean sheet is one information but we could have done better. I don’t care in the moment, we wanted to win the game, we did that. But now we don’t hang the clean sheet too high because there were two situations where we were far away from perfect. But that’s it and for tonight, absolutely OK. Saturday [is] a completely different challenge, Sheffield United tonight with their legs on the sofa. And we need to recover now really quickly, that we will be ready for that game."

    On Fabinho’s performance giving the manager and the player himself confidence in his ability at centre-back…

    "Look, in our situation it helps. Of course, was there pressure on the situation? Yes, it’s clear for the two in the back there, 100 per cent. First game together. Fabinho can play the position, he likes playing it actually. If I would have asked him to play right-back I don’t think he would enjoy it as much as he’s enjoying the centre-half position. In our situation in the moment we have to keep those boys fit and then they can of course help us a lot. I’m not surprised he [Fabinho] plays well in the position otherwise we would have thought about a different solution, even when that would have been properly tricky. I’m really pleased for tonight, pleased for him, yes it gave him confidence, for sure helped us. These situations [goalline clearances], Millie had last season one against Bournemouth, which was a massive one. That tonight was a massive one. And so he had not only because of this a big hand in this victory tonight."

    On whether it was pre-planned to change his entire front three on 60 minutes and what the decision says about his faith in the attacking depth in the squad…

    "I don’t know what it says about that, I’m not in doubt about the quality of the boys. Look, the game was like this, it became pretty wild, we had to defend really all together. We defended then in a 4-5-1, obviously that means both wingers need to be really involved in defending, and then in the moment you win the ball there are incredibly big spaces for the counter-attack and we really thought it made sense to bring fresh legs there. All three who came on are, first, in a really good shape, fresh in a tricky, difficult game on a difficult pitch. That helps a lot and you saw they helped a lot. Shaq won deflections, which is pretty special. Taki in both directions, incredible between the lines. And Diogo is a machine so he can punish opponents in one-on-one situations. We had these moments, we didn’t finish them off, unfortunately. But it’s completely fine, it was important for them. Now we started the group, now we have to concentrate on the league again and then Midtjylland is waiting after that."

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