Jürgen Klopp insists Liverpool must head into this evening's Champions League clash with Sevilla neither looking back nor forward, instead remaining firmly focused on the task in hand.
The Reds contest their first game of the tournament proper against the La Liga side, while Maribor and Spartak Moscow face off in the group’s other game.
Many have tipped Klopp’s men to progress to the next round of the competition – but the manager is refusing to be drawn on such talk.
He writes in ‘This is Anfield’: “I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that we all focus just on the immediate game in front of us. I understand the nature of football, of sport – in fact of life – meant that after the draw was made the first question I am asked is: how far can you go in the competition? It is a fair question and the human side of us always wants to look ahead. It just doesn’t help us – as a team – to look beyond the immediate challenge and tonight that challenge is Sevilla FC.
“The maximum we can achieve this evening is three points in the group. This in itself should be enough motivation. We play a top, top European team. Sevilla FC know what it takes to win matches in European competition – we know this ourselves.
“They are streetwise in European competition. They will probably consider themselves favourites to win this game tonight and to win our group. This is fine – it is for us to stop this.”
Liverpool go into the encounter with Sevilla on the back of a 5-0 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday, in which they were forced to play almost an hour of the game with 10 men after Sadio Mane was sent off.
Again, Klopp has urged his players to put the frustrations and disappointments of that afternoon at Etihad Stadium behind them when they take to the field this evening.
“I cannot ignore what happened in Manchester at the weekend, but it is vital that no-one is burdened with it when we start tonight,” he continued.
“There were some pretty painful lessons from the level of performance, but this group of players has shown repeatedly they are professionals who take the information, learn from it and improve. It is OK to be hurt by a result like Saturday but it is not OK to be wounded – it cannot impede our progress.
“We are still incredibly strong, as individuals but more importantly as a team. Tonight, together, we can show this again if we want to. It is up to us and the attitude we show.”
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