Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp makes confident Leeds United prediction and hails 'inspirational' Marcelo Bielsa

LIVERPOOL boss Jurgen Klopp says his Reds will begin the defence of their title against a real Premier League team in Leeds United with the Whites more than enough to think about over the opening weekend.

By Lee Sobot
Friday, 11th September 2020, 12:43 pm
Updated Friday, 11th September 2020, 3:42 pm

Liverpool approach the new season as defending champions of England for the first time in 30 years having romped to the 2019-20 title in finishing 18 points clear of runners-up Manchester City.

Saturday's opening day of the new campaign has now thrown up a clash of champions with Klopp's Reds at home to Marcelo Bielsa's newly-promoted Leeds side who themselves stormed to the Championship title in finishing ten points clear of second-placed West Brom.

And asked at his pre-match press conference on where he saw the biggest threats to Liverpool coming from, Klopp said an opening weekend showdown against a side he has plenty of respect for was more than enough to occupy the mind.

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ENOUGH TO THINK ABOUT: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp who has lots of respect for Leeds United ahead of this weekend's Premier League opener against Marcelo Bielsa's Whites at Anfield. Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images.

"We don't have to think at this moment about the whole season, we have to think about Leeds and that's enough to think about honestly because it's a Premier League team," said Klopp.

"They are new in the Premier League with this but they are 'really' a Premier League team quality wise and with a world class manager and an incredible intense idea of football.

"We have to be ready for that so that's what I am thinking about and not too much about the rest of the season."

Leeds have not met Liverpool in a league fixture since February 2004 with the Whites relegated three months later and taking 16 years to make a top-flight return with three seasons in League One along the way,

Klopp, though, has no doubts that United will be back for good.

Asked why he thought Leeds would fit into the Premier League so well, whether it was their style or their manager, Klopp reasoned: “That’s a completely different style to Sheffield United, for example, but it’s in a similar way different to how all other teams play.

“That makes it so special and will help them, because it’s not like the most expansive style, that they will open up and be a bit naïve or something like that.

"Not at all – they are well drilled and the things they do are absolutely brilliant.

“The way they defend is exceptional, it’s man marking, it’s pretty much man marking plus one – that sounds slightly strange but it’s true. So that’s really well organised.

“Of course, they will face challenges as well because in the Premier League some different animals are around than in the Championship, for sure. But anyhow, they will do well in the Premier League, 100 per cent.

“They know it probably that it suits them probably even more, the Premier League, than the Championship did. So, good news for Leeds, they are not in the Championship anymore. Now they can show their full potential and that’s what they will do. But, of course, we are not that bad as well, so we try to push through our things as well.

“If we are not ready for intensity, we have a problem, 100 per cent, because they will be ready. They were always ready.

“Unfortunately, we don’t play them after they played six games in seven days, so they are pretty fresh, had a good pre-season, and now they will be completely charged. But we [will be] as well, so let’s give it a go.”

Turning his attentions to Whites head coach Bielsa, whom Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has described as the best coach in the world, Klopp said: “I admire him, but I was never close enough to him. I watched his teams playing, that’s pretty exceptional. The rest I got from newspapers and stuff like this.

“I analysed some games, even in the past already and had a look at that. We have a different approach; there are similarities obviously, but there are big differences as well.

“I like him without knowing him as a proper character, obviously. And maybe the hardest-working of all of us, I don’t know, I think we all work pretty much but I don’t think we really can compete with him in that area.

"When I think about the analysis he presented around the Derby game! That was some information about the opponent obviously. We have a lot of information, I’m not sure we have exactly the same amount. That was funny as well.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting him. He is an inspiration for all coaches because what he is doing, he sticks to it and really pushes it through – and is successful with it.

"That makes him a very, very interesting figure in this business.”

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Thank you Laura Collins