Jurgen Klopp did not expect Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini to receive a retrospective ban for appearing to catch Liverpool midfielder Emre Can with an elbow during last week’s Europa League tie.
Fellaini and Can clashed during the final moments of the Anfield match, where Liverpool claimed a dominant 2-0 win that they will defend in the second leg of the last-16 tie at Old Trafford on Thursday.
UEFA confirmed on Monday that Fellaini would avoid punishment as the match officials did not mention the incident in their reports.
Speaking at his pre-match news conference, Klopp took the opportunity to make light of a touchline ban he received from UEFA for reacting angrily towards the fourth official when his Borussia Dortmund side lost a Champions League match 2-1 at Napoli in 2013.
“Surprised he’s playing? No,” Klopp said of Fellaini.
“It was a situation with different views. A lot of people at UEFA have said it was a normal situation.
“They gave me three games for my face in Naples. But that was a long time ago.”
Klopp praised the form of Can and insists the Germany midfielder must not become distracted by any furore surrounding his altercation with Fellaini, which could stoke what is already expected to be a heated atmosphere.
“He’s in a really good way,” he said. “But I want him concentrated on football, not on what people say about him.
“He’s in good shape. He’s made a big step [with his form].”
Having praised the vocal backing Liverpool received from their own fans during the initial match, Klopp challenged his players to put in a performance that persuades the Old Trafford faithful against creating a similar din.
“The atmosphere is loud if people hate you,” he explained. “I don’t understand what the crowd is singing.
“In Liverpool, it was different. But if we had played poorly, it would not have been the same atmosphere. We will decide how good the atmosphere is with our performance.
“Three-thousand Liverpool fans [in the away end] is enough.”