Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that he will need to take a ‘closer look’ at Red Bull Salzburg and Genk after the Reds were drawn with the Austrians and Belgians alongside perennial opponents Napoli in the 2019/20 Champions League draw.
Liverpool faced Napoli at this stage of the competition last season, as well as in pre-season friendlies this summer and last. But Red Bull Salzburg and Genk are new prospects that Klopp insists will not be taken lightly by the reigning European champions.
“I don’t know how often I’ve now played against Napoli, but they’re obviously a very experienced side,” Klopp said in response to Thursday evening’s draw, via LiverpoolFC.com.
“I will need now to have another, closer look at Genk and Salzburg, but I already know they are very young, very exciting and very fresh, so it will be interesting, 100 per cent,” he added.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played against Salzburg or Genk, so that’s interesting. It’s how it always is, it’s not an easy group and not a group where we can hide behind anybody.”
Liverpool have a handful of players who do know both clubs, with Divock Origi a Genk youth team player for nine years prior to making his professional breakthrough with Lille, and Sadio Mane and Naby Keita both developed in Salzburg before making their names elsewhere.
“Now we know the opponents, when we were walking off the pitch from training, I immediately spoke with Divock about playing Genk!” Klopp explained.
“We will do our analysis and research on all three teams, but we know they all played exceptional seasons last year. Of course, Salzburg are famous for bringing through new players, like they did with Sadio and Naby – they’ve found a lot of others, too. It will be really interesting.”