English runners-up Liverpool look for a fresh start when they host Ajax Amsterdam in the European Champions League on Tuesday, while Barcelona hope to rebuild their reputation against Bayern Munich in the most high-profile group stage clash in history. . .
And after almost three months competing for a historic quartet, Liverpool find themselves in a very embarrassing position, after their ordeal was compounded by a humiliating defeat last Wednesday in the first round of the first group stage in Napoli, Italy. , 1-4.
The defeat of German coach Jurgen Klopp’s team at the ‘Diego Armando Maradona’ stadium revealed the magnitude of the problem faced by the ‘red’ at the start of this season.
“I watched the game several times and it was a real horror movie,” Klopp said Monday at the Ajax sideline press conference about the match with Napoli, adding: “It was the worst game we played since I was here. . We suffered severe defeats, and everyone remembers them (the 7-2 loss to Aston Villa and others), but we gave at least a little bit in those games. As for this, nothing.
The matter not only has to do with losing for the third time in a row the Napoli stronghold, but the team is in seventh place in the Premier League after 6 stages.
Klopp did not want to delve into the analysis of the crisis the team is going through, saying: “I need time to say the right things, but the situation is not 100% clear now.”
Wednesday’s loss was Liverpool’s biggest continental defeat since losing in the European Champions Cup second round to next rival Ajax 1-5 in 1966.
Klopp’s side have won just two of their seven games this season, at home and continental level, in a series that included a 2-1 loss to rivals Manchester United.
The “Al-Ahmar” team suffers from the problem of a slow start, not only this season, but an extension of last season, as only once in the last 14 games in all competitions did they manage to score the breakthrough goal.
“It seems we have to reproduce,” Klopp said in a statement to Britain’s BT Sport. The funny part (sarcastically) is that we need to do this in the middle of the Premier League season and the Champions League campaign.
And with Premier League matches postponed over the weekend to mourn Queen Elizabeth II, Klopp had more time to prepare for Tuesday’s match against a distinguished attacking team reminiscent of the golden generations. from Ajax, the last of the one that led the team to its fourth title in the Madre continental competition in 1995 and to the final the following year.
Despite losing the efforts of influential players such as Brazilian Anthony, Argentine Lisandro Martins (Manchester United, England), Ivorian striker Sebastian Haller (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Rhein Grafenberg, Moroccan Nasir Mazraoui (Bayern Munich, Germany) , Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana (Inter Italy) and even his manager Eric Ten Hag (Manchester) from United, Ajax made a great start in this group by scoring four clean sheets against Rangers, whose game on this day against their guest, Napoli, was postponed for Wednesday. for organizational reasons related to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth.
Faced with the brilliance of players like Stephen Birkhaus, Ghanaian Mohamed Kaddous and newcomer Stephen Berchvin, Ajax put on a magnificent attacking performance led by new coach Alfred Schroeder with remarkable defensive solidity, scoring 22 goals in his last six games against one receiving Goal, which is a great threat to Liverpool, who must also think about what awaits Chelsea on Sunday in the Premier League.
Klopp will have to find solutions to these two tests, before breathing a sigh of relief with the break due to the window of international matches.
“We don’t work as a team,” admitted the German coach. We are not playing well enough. This is clear, this is clear and everyone sees it. We are playing in the strongest league in the world and we have a strong group in the Champions League, but that is the task we have to do”.
In the third group, after a great start by both teams, Bayern defeated Inter at the latter’s home ground 2-0 and Barcelona beat Viktoria Plzen 5-1 thanks to a hat-trick from their new Polish player Robert Lewandowski, the focus is on “Allianz Arena”, where the latter is a guest of the team that was crowned with him, six times top scorer in the Bundesliga in the last seven seasons.
The showdown will be retaliation for Barcelona, who last season said goodbye to the competition from the group stage for the first time since 2000-2001 by losing back and forth to the Bavarian giants 0-3, after that he was humiliated a year earlier by the Bavarian club by abandoning the quarterfinals, which were played in the set-up system of a match in Portugal due to the Corona virus, with a historic 2-8 defeat.
“Ten days ago, Sadio (Mane) jokingly told me not to pass the ball to Lloyd,” Bayern playmaker Thomas Muller, who played for the Polish side for years, said on Monday.
As for the Uruguayan defender, Ronald Araujo, Lewandowski’s teammate at Barcelona, ”We all know the characteristics of ‘Lewis’, we have experienced them quite a bit for several years. Now he is with us, which is incredible.”
In the Czech Republic, Inter will try to return from the Viktoria Plzen Stadium with the three points, because any other result will complicate the task of reserving one of the two group cards in the presence of Bayern and Barcelona.
After their inaugural victory over Marseille with two clean goals from their new Brazilian player Richarlison, Tottenham Hotspur will face a tough test in Group D when they visit Sporting, who swept Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 in their opening match. in the stadium of the latter, who will play will move to the “Stadium Velodrome” on Tuesday to face Marseille.
In the second group, Atlético de Madrid will visit Bayer Leverkusen in search of a second victory after their inaugural triumph over their Portuguese guests, Porto, 2-1, in a match that scored all three of their goals in added time.