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Liverpool tread through uncharted waters with ‘favourites’ tag as Champions League final looms – Opinion

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Liverpool opinion: Reds tread into uncharted waters as Champions League final beckons

Liverpool’s whirlwind season comes to an end on 1 June when they play Tottenham for the Champions League crown.

Not many would have expected these two to fight it out for the title, especially after the first-legs of their semi-finals.

Spurs lost 1-0 at home to Ajax while Liverpool were unlucky to return from the Nou Camp with a 3-0 deficit.

Liverpool

Liverpool celebrate after defeating Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final

However, both teams had remarkable comebacks to speak about. Liverpool demolished Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield while Spurs came back from 2-0 down to beat Ajax 3-3 on aggregate.

This is the biggest European game for Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino has the chance of writing his name into Spurs history, however, the Reds are no strangers to reaching finals under Jurgen Klopp.

This would be our fourth final in four years as we look to finally win a trophy under the German, but this final has a different feel for the Reds.

Liverpool have to deal with the pressure of being favourites

Liverpool lost the Europa League final to Sevilla, the League Cup final to Manchester City and the Champions League final to Real Madrid, which came last season.

In all those three games the Reds were the underdogs. We might have taken the lead against Sevilla in 2016 but the Spaniards were defending champions and were looking at a third straight Europa League title.

Our second half capitulation helped them win the crown 3-1 and we lost to Manchester City on penalties in the League Cup too.

Sadio Mane of Liverpool

Sadio Mane in action against Manchester City

Last season’s Champions League loss was a bitter pill to swallow, especially after Sergio Ramos injured Mohamed Salah. However, that team seemed to have overachieved by reaching the final.

Real were the better side on paper with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro starting.

Their bench featured Gareth Bale (the match winner on that evening) and Marco Asensio while we ended up calling Adam Lallana and Emre Can in the final.

Loris Karius of Liverpool

This time, against Tottenham, we are the favourites and Sadio Mane also spoke about that tag ahead of the final:

“The final is a one-off game, it will be different from the league,” the Senegal forward told TF1 (h/t Express).

“You cannot hide, I think we are favourites.”

The Senegal star warned us about a final never being easy to play, however, we have the better team when compared to Spurs.

Our wins in the league this might have been just one-goal margins but the gulf in the table shows how far ahead we are from Spurs.

Of course, the Reds have to be wary of Tottenham as they have proved their ability by defeating Manchester City, something we were unable to do in the league.

Yet, the Reds have a stalwart in defence, Virgil van Dijk, a goalkeeper that makes fewer errors than Hugo Lloris and possibly the best attacking trio in England.

Liverpool players against Watford

Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold

Coming into any game with the favourites tag adds more pressure but Liverpool have dealt with that all season long.

The win over Napoli in the Champions League group stage, the late wins over Everton, Newcastle, Fulham and Southampton, defeating Bayern at the Allianz Arena and doing a number on Barcelona, all were achieved when the team was under pressure.

Klopp took Borussia Dortmund to a Champions League final against Munich, and the underdogs lost to the Bavarians.

However, this team is mentally strong and has this ‘never give up’ attitude to call upon when things don’t go their way.

Liverpool haven’t been favourites for a final in a long time and it is a refreshing feeling ahead of our clash on 1 June.

Read more Liverpool news, click here – Latest Liverpool news

Klopp has worked  his magic throughout the season, and hopefully, we can end the campaign with a trophy.

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Liverpool unlikely to make January signings as Klopp wants to keep a close unit

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Liverpool won’t sign players in January unless they face a big problem

The Liverpool Echo’s Paul Gorst took part in a regular Q+A session after our loss to Napoli in the Champions League.

The journalist was asked about a range of topics regarding the club including our plans in the winter window and when our injured players could return.

Liverpool didn’t make any big signings in the summer as they signed a couple of young players. We did sign Adrian and Andy Lonergan but those were done to provide cover for Alisson.

Gorst was asked if the Reds would make any signings in the January window, and he claimed that it would take a major problem for any deal to take place (h/t Liverpool Echo):

“I think for Liverpool to be active in the January window there would have to be a big problem at Anfield.

“Klopp likes the close-knit makeup of his squad and prefers his numbers to be trim. I don’t see a scenario where the Reds boss is delving into the market to make a significant addition at this stage.”

The journalist added that Klopp believes in the current crop of players after the perfect start to the Premier League campaign.

Klopp averse to making winter signings

The German isn’t known to make big winter signings and it would be a huge deal if the manager makes a move in January.

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp

The Reds have a pretty strong team and it will be interesting to see how our season develops in the coming months.

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We have looked good so far this season and were a little unlucky to return from Napoli without a point.

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Liverpool interested in 27-year-old Real Madrid star but face competition from Premier League rivals

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Liverpool are interested in Real Madrid attacker Isco

Calciomercato (h/t AS) reports that Liverpool are interested in Real Madrid’s talented Spaniard Isco.

The 27-year-old can play in several positions in the attack and has scored one goal and provided one assist for the Madrid side this season.

Isco has had his troubles with Real in the past season or so and only started 11 La Liga games for them.

Isco
Isco

The 27-year-old did appear in 16 league games as a substitute, with Real changing managers thrice in the previous campaign.

Zinedine Zidane is back at the helm of the La Liga giants and Isco hasn’t played for the side since the 1-1 draw against Valladolid at the end of August.

The report claims that there is further interest in Isco, with Manchester City and Juventus also keen on the 27-year-old.

Do Liverpool need Isco?

The Spaniard is a great talent but his inconsistency has been a problem over the past 18 months or so.

Liverpool could use a playmaker just behind the front-three and Isco is capable of playing in that position.

However, the Spaniard has mostly been used in the wide positions this season, and it will be interesting to see if he is on the move later on.

Liverpool have three of the best attackers in world football at the moment, and there is immense competition for places in the midfield too.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita could provide us with an attacking dimension from the midfield. However, the pair have had their injury problems in recent years.

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Isco would be a valuable addition to the team, but he won’t be guaranteed a starting spot. Landing the Spaniard on the cheap would be good business, but we shouldn’t break the bank for the 27-year-old.

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Spanish star linked with Liverpool after excellent display in Champions League

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Fabian Ruiz of Napoli linked with Liverpool after excellent display

Liverpool’s Champions League opener might not have gone their way with a 2-0 defeat at Napoli.

The Reds were unlucky to concede a penalty late in the game, with replays showing that Jose Callejon had fallen over before contact was made with Andy Robertson.

Dries Mertens made no mistake from the spot and we tried to get back into the game.

Fabian Ruiz

Fernando Llorente scored in the dying seconds of the game after some miscommunication at the back, but we had our chances to score too.

One player who impressed in the midfield was Fabian Ruiz. The Spaniard was linked with the Reds before the clash (h/t Calciomercato) and did a great job in controlling the midfield.

The 23-year-old has been great for Napoli under Carlo Ancelotti, and reports (h/t Liverpool Echo) claim that the midfielder is being linked with Liverpool once again.

A quality signing for the Reds?

Liverpool do have a packed midfield with the likes of Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain yet to shine this season.

Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum are great as a unit but the likes of James Milner and Adam Lallana are in their 30s and cannot start every game for us.

Marko Grujic
Marko Grujic celebrates

Marko Grujic has also impressed at Hertha Berlin on loan, and he should be handed a chance to prove his ability at Anfield.

The Serbian would be a smart option for the Reds but Ruiz seems to be a more complete article right now.

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Calciomercato added that Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid were also interested in the Spaniard, and it will be interesting to see if Ruiz is on the move next season.

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