LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Respect for the Champions League and the need for consistency in team selection will see Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp select a strong lineup against Porto on Wednesday, despite the English side already being assured of winning its group.
Liverpool qualified with two matches to spare by beating Atletico Madrid in their last group game and Klopp knows he has to manage his options amid a hectic stretch of 12 games in 40 days in all competitions.
Yet Klopp came across a similar situation last season when Liverpool visited FC Midtjylland in a game with nothing riding on it. He fielded a number of first-choice players and one of them — Diogo Jota — got injured and was ruled out for three months.
Reminded of that on Tuesday, Klopp took umbrage but said he would do the same again.
“We cannot play football games with this lineup, then next game a lineup which has no chance to win a game, then bring them back again,” Klopp said.
“Players need rhythm, all these kinds of things. Do I make the decision because I don’t care who gets injured in the lineup tomorrow? No. I can’t and I will not. These things happen in football. Hopefully nothing happens tomorrow.”
At least eight players are already injured or doubtful for the match, including Jordan Henderson and Andrew Robertson, and Klopp said he would “think about ourselves and our schedule” when picking his team.
“It’s really easy to sit there, all the people who judge us, and say, ‘Leave him out, leave him out, leave him out,’ Klopp said. “If we leave them all out and play with a team that is not a Champions League team … then nobody can get injured. We have to line up a team who has a chance to win a football game. The Diogo situation was very unlucky. I hated it, that I made the decision.
“But would I have made the decision the same again? That’s the only question I have to answer. Yes, I would have again, because you need stability.”
Porto is in second place, a point ahead of Atletico Madrid and four ahead of AC Milan.
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