Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool are ready to fight for the Champions League crown ahead of a crucial week in its extraordinary season.
After the winter break enjoyed by their senior stars, the Reds resume the Premier League on Saturday at the bottom of the Norwich City table.
But even if the Canaries had been able to arouse a big surprise, it would have been a big shock if Klopp’s team had loosened their grip on what will be the first top flight title in 30 years.
Liverpool’s 22-point lead over Manchester City has led many people to shift their focus to the Champions League, which resumes on Tuesday when Klopp sided with the same side where they raised the trophy last season.
Wanda Metropolitano of Atletico Madrid will bring back many happy memories for the German, but there will be no time to remember in the Spanish capital, not with a double – and high potential – to win.
“That (defending the Champions League) has yet to be demonstrated,” said Klopp on Friday.
“I have no idea I can win the competition, but we should be ready to try.
“Just to fight for it. It is so.
“So in some moments it is lucky to win something and that is what we will definitely need.”
Winning him again, and indeed reaching a third consecutive final, will be a tough request for the Reds, and Klopp is well aware of the tests that his team could face.
“There are so many strong teams out there,” he said.
“I said that before Juventus was my favorite before the season, obviously I don’t watch Italian football enough, but if Juventus don’t have ten points advantage, you can see that there are some problems.
“PSG – when everyone is fit … it’s just a bomb! This is just a really strong team.
“Bayern is ever more present, Barcelona can never be discounted, Real Madrid, Manchester City, let’s not forget, because the Champions League will be one of their great goals.
“We have no idea how far we can go and the only real problem right now is Atletico.”
Despite all these names, Liverpool’s extraordinary form over the past 18 months has led many to make them favorites for the crown, but Klopp doesn’t get carried away.
“I really have no idea if we are the strongest team left in the competition,” he added.
“What I know and what we showed last year is that we can beat the best.
“It doesn’t mean we will do it, it just means we can. And that’s the only thing I need to know.
“Last year Man City was the best team in the world and we won the Champions League afterwards, so now people are not happy with some things [at City] and we are.
“But there is always another team that is currently the best in the world.
“Quality will not be the big difference: it is who finds the right mood, the right desire that all those things can overcome the decisive challenges and we will see who it can be.”