Thursday 16 August 2018

Karius ready for Seville service as Klopp brings Coutinho into fold

Liverpool's Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane. Photo: Getty Images
Liverpool's Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane. Photo: Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

Jurgen Klopp's plan to rotate three goalkeepers this season will result in Loris Karius making his Champions League debut as Liverpool make their return to the European elite.

Karius will face Seville at Anfield ahead of Simon Mignolet, with his manager insisting he is not taking a gamble by recalling the 24-year-old.

Klopp selected Karius ahead of Mignolet in a recent Premier League fixture against Arsenal and says the German demonstrated the issues that cost him No 1 status at Anfield last season are behind him.

"If nothing happens overnight then Loris will start, yes," said Klopp, who also said youngster Danny Ward would be given opportunities in the season ahead.

"If we don't give them a game then every year we have to find a number two, 33-years-old, still can catch a few balls and doesn't want to play any more. If they train bad they don't deserve a game, but they both train really well, they keep the level really high. I prefer having a group of good goalkeepers, and that means you have to change things."

Karius is a rookie in Europe, playing just twice in the Europa League for Mainz, but Klopp has no doubt about his pedigree.

"Could Loris prove something? I think he did [against Arsenal]," said Klopp. "He was very cool with the ball, I know for some people too cool with the ball but that can happen with no rhythm, so now he has had the game it helped him a lot, us also and now he will start."

Klopp has also recalled Philippe Coutinho, who will at the very least be on the bench but could now start after Mohamed Salah was taken ill yesterday morning. It would be Coutinho's first appearance of the season following his efforts to leave Liverpool for Barcelona over the summer. Liverpool last met Seville when they were beaten 3-1 in the 2016 Europa League final. Klopp made a vow after the defeat. "We will come back stronger," he said in the immediate aftermath of the loss.

That the same opponent now ushers in Liverpool's return to the grandest stage offers some symmetry - a chance for Klopp to show how far his side has evolved during their one year of European exile.

"I think we have proved already we are stronger than we were in the final," said Klopp. "At the time it was a terrible defeat, but we took a big step - but Seville also did so it doesn't say too much about this game. For me, the most important thing is this is a proper Champions League game and nothing else, not Europa League, not a final from two years ago, it is real Champions League."

The turnaround in staff since Liverpool's last Champions League exit to Basel in December 2014 is significant. Eight of the starting XI that night have left, or in the case of Steven Gerrard retired. Rickie Lambert led the line, Coutinho was no more than a late substitute. The replacing of Brendan Rodgers with Klopp is the most significant change of all. "We have to enjoy the tournament, because it is a special tournament, the biggest in Europe, and we have to ensure we enjoy being here," he said. Meanwhile, despite his three-game domestic ban, Sadio Mane is eligible and is a guaranteed starter. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Liverpool v Seville, Live RTE2 & BT Sport, 7.45

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