Liverpool’s road to Istanbul will be tougher this time: Juergen Klopp
Juergen Klopp has warned Liverpool that retaining the Champions League will be even harder than their incredible march to victory in Madrid last season.
Klopp's side start their bid for a seventh European Cup with a trip to Napoli for their Group E opener tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The Reds have reached the last two Champions League finals, beating Tottenham Hotspur in the Spanish capital in June after losing to Real Madrid 12 months earlier.
But Klopp believes Liverpool face a daunting task to make it to this season's final in Istanbul's Ataturk Stadium - a venue which carries extra resonance for the club, after they won the 2005 Champions League with an astonishing comeback against AC Milan at the same stadium.
Before the Reds can dream of emulating Steven Gerrard and Co's triumph, Klopp knows they will have to run the gauntlet in what he expects to be a fiercely contested tournament.
Napoli are expected to pose the sternest test to Liverpool in a group which includes unfancied Red Bull Salzburg and Genk.
Carlo Ancelotti's team came within a whisker of ending Liverpool's European campaign in the group stage last season.
But goalkeeper Alisson's superb late save denied Arkadiusz Milik to preserve a 1-0 win at Anfield that sent the Reds into the last 16 at the expense of Napoli.
Even if Liverpool should advance to the knockout rounds without so much drama this season, Klopp remains wary.
"I will have no problem with it (reaching the final) if it happens again, but at this moment I am not too sure it will (happen)," he said when the draw was made last month.
"We have the same chance like everyone else, but that is all, and I don't see us, the English teams, dominating.
"I really think a lot of teams have a good chance.
"Look at the squad Borussia Dortmund have and tell me we are stronger than them. It is incredible.
"Juventus will be there, PSG will be there. Real Madrid? Do you think they gave up already?"
Ex-Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamann, however, believes Liverpool, along with Manchester City are Champions League favourites.
The 2005 Champions League winner told German news agency SID: "I think that City and Liverpool will set the standard." - AFP