Klopp set for ‘special’ first night at Anfield


Anfield’s patrons will run the rule over Jurgen Klopp for the first time on Thursday when he supervises his maiden Liverpool home game against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League.

Having grown accustomed to the tactical tweaking and press conference grandstanding of Brendan Rodgers over the last three years, the denizens of Anfield Road are now adjusting to the methods of the gregarious German.

Klopp has dazzled in his early media appearances, but last Saturday he unveiled his blueprint for on-pitch success with a high-pressing, hard-running team display in a 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.

Liverpool’s players ran a combined 116 kilometres in the game — making them the first team to outrun Spurs this season — but Klopp warned: “We don’t have to run 115 kilometres only to be successful.

“We need healthy players, but we don’t kill the players. You don’t have to run like crazy if you have the ball. It is only the start.

“We must know to turn the screws in the right moment; better thinking, better timing. But if you play a much better team and you are not ready to run more than them, then you are crazy.”

Klopp jettisoned Rodgers’ back three in favour of a 4-3-2-1 system at White Hart Lane, which saw 20-year-old Divock Origi operate as a lone striker.

The Belgium international is likely to keep his place in the side, with Klopp revealing that Daniel Sturridge will be rested ahead of Sunday’s visit of Southampton in the Premier League following a minor knee problem.

Striker Christian Benteke is set to return, along with forward Roberto Firmino and centre-back Dejan Lovren, but Klopp said they were “not really starting options”.

Klopp’s European pedigree — notably a Champions League final appearance with Dortmund in 2013 — was one of the factors in his appointment by Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group.

For now he must content himself with the Europa League and despite successive 1-1 draws at Bordeaux and at home to Swiss side FC Sion, Liverpool remain well placed to qualify from Group B.

– ‘Special atmosphere’ –

They are currently second in the group, two points below Sion and a point above Rubin, who lost 2-1 away to Sion before drawing 0-0 at home to Bordeaux.

Klopp’s home debut is one of the most hotly anticipated matches in Liverpool’s recent history and he admitted that he is excited about walking out in front of the Kop for the first time as a home manager.

“I’m really looking forward to this game as you can imagine, because it’s the first home game and it’s at night, with lights and a special atmosphere,” he said.

But he warned: “It’s very important for this game that we have to be patient in a football way.

“I hope that nobody is waiting for 4-0 after three minutes and is then disappointed because it’s not like they dreamt.”

Rubin come into the match on the back of a 3-1 home win over FC Ufa in the Russian Premier League, which ended a series of six matches without victory in all competitions.

Former Russia winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is particularly looking forward to the trip to Merseyside as he previously spent three years playing for Liverpool’s neighbours Everton.

“For me it will be very nice to walk onto the pitch at Anfield,” said the 30-year-old left-footer, nicknamed ‘Billy’ during his time at Goodison Park.

“We know that the Europa League is not the most important tournament for the English teams, but I expect a tough and interesting match on Thursday.”

Rubin caretaker coach Valery Chaly has a close to full-strength squad to choose from, although Bulgarian midfielder Blagoy Georgiev is a doubt after missing the game against Ufa through injury.