Jurgen Klopp, the effervescent Liverpool manager, used his beaming smile and quick wit to convert a few Brazilian fans his team’s way ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup final against Flamengo.
“My father always said, whatever people tell you in the future, Pele is the best player in the world. The first thing I think about Brazil football is Pele,” Klopp said.
Expecting a tough final against the Brazilians, the German said: “I can’t judge Brazilian club football by watching a few Flamengo games. They have an intense style, organised style. Jorge Jesus has brought new players in defence, and they have a settled line-up. Everyone knows what they have to do, they have speed, creativity, they have different ways of playing, they are cheeky on the wings,” Klopp summarised.
“They are also not used to losing football games since Jesus took over. (Flamengo has lost only two its last 29 games). I’ve never played a Brazilian team, but Flamengo have never played a team like Liverpool either. We’ll see who can make the most.”
While both Virgil van Djik and Georginio Wijnaldum trained at the Qatar University ground, Klopp is yet to take a call on their availability for the final. “Virgil and Gini trained today. We’ll see how they shape up. We have no new injury concerns, we will use each available hour for recovery and we will see who we can line-up tomorrow,” he said.
In its semifinal against Monterrey, the English side was ill at ease as Jordan Henderson struggled in his new role as a centre back and Liverpool, searching for its first world title, will benefit from van Djik’s calmness in defence.
Used to playing in festive surroundings at Anfield, which is always daunting for visiting teams, Klopp urged Liverpool fans in the region to back their team.
“The atmosphere was good in our game. The stadium went mad when Mo (Salah) was on the big screen. I saw a lot of Red. Not sure if it was Liverpool or Egypt. I think they support both,” he said.”We are used to special atmosphere. If they want to match what we do at Anfield, give it a try.”