Jurgen Klopp was left holding his tongue after Liverpool were talked of as potential Champions League winners ahead of their last-16 tie against Porto.
The dazzling attacking play of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, along with a relatively favourable draw against the Portuguese champions, has led to Liverpool being tipped as dark horses to become kings of Europe for a sixth time in their history.
Speaking alongside his manager at a pre-match news conference, Firmino sidestepped comparisons between himself and Salah and Paris Saint-Germain stars Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
When it was Klopp’s turn to talk, Liverpool’s against-the-odds Champions League triumph in 2005 was raised but the former Borussia Dortmund boss was in no mood to entertain any parallels being drawn.
“I have no idea. If we would be in the final we would try to win it, for sure, but it’s such a long way away,” he said.
“It’s not enough to say I don’t like it, actually I hate to talk about the round after the actual round.”
Joking to underline his point, Klopp added: “Only because I am a friendly person I answer the question, because we are in public. Usually if someone asks about the next round I leave the room immediately.
“We are live on television – that’s why I didn’t do it.”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 13, 2018
Another hypothetical with which Klopp was unwilling to engage came when the future of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was raised.
The manager confirmed he would abandon his previous rotation policy for cup competitions when it came to the last line of defence, meaning Loris Karius would retain his place at Porto having dislodged Mignolet last month.
“Nobody knows about the future, or I don’t know about the future,” Klopp fired back when it was put to him the decision meant Mignolet’s days at Anfield were numbered. “In this business it is always the same – it says nothing about that.
“It’s not for me to think about these kind of things. I have to make a decision for tomorrow night and that’s all. No problem.”
A year ago, competing in the Champions League was only a possibility for Liverpool and Klopp is keen to focus on a present and tangible reality.
“On a good day we are really strong but tomorrow we need to be outstandingly strong to get a result at Porto,” he said.
“Last summer we dreamt of it but now we are here. The last 16 means 16 really, really good football teams face each other.”
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