Jurgen Klopp feels pundits who were critical of Bayern Munich early in Niko Kovac’s reign are now at risk of looking “silly” as the Bundesliga champions recover under their new coach.
Bayern won their first seven games under Kovac before stumbling into a run of four matches without a victory, but they travel to Anfield on Tuesday for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in fine form.
Friday’s 3-2 win at Augsburg means Kovac’s side have taken 27 points from the last 30 available in the Bundesliga, with their deficit behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund cut to three points.
And Klopp is more aware of Bayern’s threat than most, with the German having battled for titles with the Bavarian giants when he coached Dortmund between 2008 and 2015.
“I cannot hide from the fact that Bayern Munich are a team I know more about than most of the opposition we face in international competition,” Klopp wrote in Liverpool’s matchday programme.
“They were of course a regular opponent both in domestic competitions and the Champions League when I worked in Germany, and with it still being my home country I pay more attention to what happens in the Bundesliga than others, outside of the Premier League itself.
“Because of this knowledge, aside from the usual analysis we do, I know how unbelievably powerful they are, as a team and as a club. Bayern know what it takes to win – it’s what they do.
“This season people were far too quick, in my opinion, to draw conclusions on them early and some of those who fell into that trap now risk looking a little silly.
“They’ve had some transition to manage, but it is clear they are now in the right mood and we must be ready for a side full of confidence and attacking intent.
“When the Champions League starts each season Bayern Munich are a team people with knowledge predict will have a big say in the outcome of who wins it – this season it is no different. We face a side who will have ambitions to go all the way. But guess what – we are also a side that refuses to limit its ambitions.”
“Our crowd is able to push it from 100 to 120, 30 or 40 per cent.” pic.twitter.com/rvf1JggXV5
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 18, 2019
Liverpool will be without defensive leader Virgil van Dijk due to suspension for Bayern’s visit, while Joe Gomez is out and Dejan Lovren is battling to recover from a hamstring injury.
“It is entirely possible to respect that this is a blockbuster fixture without needing analysis of who has the better chance of progressing,” Klopp continued. “We prepare for this game like every other one. We look at and respect our opponents’ strengths and learn about them before playing.
“But when we pass on that information it is about how we can use it to maximise our own qualities, of which there are many. We make it about what we can do – we make it about us always.
“We were away most of last week in training camp and what I saw there was a squad of players only interested in ourselves and what we can do together. I saw players who are loving being involved in something that matters and has the potential to be significant.
“The team we focus on more than any other is always us and what we can do and achieve with hard work and focus.”
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