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Juergen Klopp livid with proposals to expand Champions League

Liverpool boss rages at proposal to expand Champions League

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has bristled at a proposal that could see the Champions League group stage transformed into a 32-team division.

Reigning European champions Liverpool already have a packed fixture programme, with the runaway English Premier League leaders flying to Qatar for the Club World Cup less than 24 hours after last Saturday's 2-0 win over Watford at Anfield.

Mohamed Salah's brace secured the win against the EPL's cellar dwellers.

So congested is their schedule that Liverpool have two games in as many days next week, with the Reds set to field a youth side for the League Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa on Wednesday morning (Singapore time), before the senior team play in Doha on Thursday morning.

Against this background, it was no surprise that Klopp was decidedly unimpressed by talk of an increase in Champions League matches that would lead to a fresh fixture pile-up.

"Today, I read the top clubs want more games in the Champions League - I am not involved in these plans, but that is absolute bollocks," AFP quoted him as saying.

"The fixtures are like they are. You all like watching us suffering. That is how it is...

"You (the media) always look concerned but no one cares.

"We speak about it and no one else speaks about it.

"We have to do what we do and are quite positive about it."

Klopp's mood was not improved by that fact that the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar will host five matches - including two semi-finals, a third-place play-off and the final - in as many days during the Club World Cup because the Education City Stadium is not ready for the tournament.

"It think it is raining there. It doesn't help the one pitch we are all playing on - sensationally good organising," said Klopp sarcastically.

"All the games are on one pitch and it is raining, I am not sure the people in Qatar are used to a lot of rain.

"We will see how the one pitch will be, but that is a bit of a problem."

The Reds will play North American champions Monterrey in Doha after the Mexican side beat Al Sadd 3-2 yesterday morning.

South American champions Flamengo will take on Al Hilal in the other semi-final.

Closer to home, Liverpool now have a 10-point lead over second-placed Leicester City as they turn their focus to the Club World Cup.

That led former England and Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole to proclaim that the title race is effectively over.

He said on BT Sport: "I think the title's done. This year it's coming to Anfield, no problem whatsoever.

"But, there will be another two or three more games like this. We really felt the tension when it was 1-0.

"You have to go through pain to win a title, you have to go through games where you're not playing well and things are just not working and you show character, and Liverpool showed a lot of character today."

Cole and the Anfield crowd may have felt nervous, but match-winner Salah said his side were "always confident".

He told BT Sport: "We have experience in playing out games, I think sometimes the crowd gets nervous when we have only scored once, but we are always confident of working towards the win."

Cole called the Egyptian's first goal Lionel Messi-esque while his ex-England teammate Paul Robinson called the 27-year-old a match-winner.

Said the former Spurs goalkeeper: "I could watch him all day long. He's a player with the ability to change the game. Yes, he may need a few more chances to score than some, but whether it's the first chance or the fifth chance, he's always a threat.


"He's a great player to watch and he'd be an asset to anybody."

Ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar believes he is an asset to his former team's bid to end a 30-year title drought after urinating on the goalposts at Anfield to lift a curse.

He said on BT Sport: "I had a testimonial in 1992 and I was sponsored by Zambezi lager and they sent a witch doctor...

"He went around the posts and put his goat's tail, put his water on the posts of both sides, got the microphone and said, 'If you don't have the jungle man Bruce Grobbelaar here, you won't win the title.'

"(Peeing on the posts) breaks the spell... At the end of last season, I played in a corporate game here. We were in the dressing room and the guy said 'You have to do the business today'.

"I said OK. I took a water bottle, poured the water out, peed in the bottle, came back.

"First half at the Kop end, I splashed it all over the posts.

"Second half, I came down to the Anfield Road end and splashed it all over the posts."