Jurgen Klopp spoke highly of Red Bull Salzburg’s teenage striker Erling Håland ahead of Liverpool’s do-or-die Champions League clash in Austria on Tuesday night.
Klopp’s side must avoid defeat to secure progression to the last 16 and avoid an ignominious exit from the competition they won in June. In Salzburg, fronted by goalscoring wonderkid Håland, Liverpool face a strong side, who need to win to progress to the knockouts.
Speaking ahead of the clash in his pre-match press conference, Klopp was asked about the threat of Håland, who has shot to fame this year, after scoring an astonishing 28 goals in just 21 appearances so far in 2019/20.
The 19-year-old Leeds-born Norway international scored one of his goals against Liverpool at Anfield in the 4-3 thriller back in October and Klopp is clearly wary of the threat posed by the youngster, while seemingly comparing the hype surrounding his situation to that of his former charge at Dortmund Robert Lewandowski.
He said, via the Liverpool Echo: “
“He is just a really big, big talent, with a wonderful future 100%. Tomorrow, how we defend, we try to avoid passes to them, we cut them off from the game. We have to make it difficult. He is unfortunately not the only good player for their team.”
Klopp also called the crunch encounter with Salzburg Liverpool’s ‘most important game in our life’.
“We have to show that we deserve it [qualification]. If Salzburg beats us, then they deserve to go to the knockout stages. If not, we deserve it,” he said.
Liverpool have lost five games away from home in Europe since the start of the 207/18 season, winning only three in that time – only one of which has come in the group stages.
Another defeat would see the Reds drop into the Europa League, an eventuality that would likely please no-one at the club. However, data specialists have already made Liverpool favourites for Europe’s second-tier competition despite not being in it yet.