Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool's Group of Death: I don’t think any of us thought it was great

Reds manager admits none of the teams involved would have been pleased with their Champions League draw, while AC Milan's Ibrahimovic is ruled out of Wednesday's match at Anfield

Jurgen Klopp has said that none of teams picked out of the hat in Liverpool's Champion League 'Group of Death' would have been pleased with the draw.

Liverpool take on Italian giants AC Milan on Merseyside in their opening Group B on Wednesday, while reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid face regular Portuguese title challengers Porto in the other game.

It certainly takes the honours as this season's toughest line-up of the opening stage, with only Group E - Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Dynamo Kiev and Benfica - running it close.

And while Klopp admitted it was an exciting prospect ahead, it would not have been the preferred choice of anyone involved.

“When we all saw the draw, I don’t think any of us thought it was a great group,” said Klopp. “It is a tough group. Atletico Madrid, wow. Porto, usually the champions in Portugal so a top team, and then AC Milan is one of the biggest teams in Europe, so it is proper Champions League.

“It is all abut getting enough points to get through that group and we better not waste time, starting tomorrow. It was a long time ago when we had a Champions League game at home.

“We have spoken a lot about European nights at Anfield and I cannot wait to experience it again.

“This group shows there are no games where people say: 'Do we really want to watch that?' This group will be exciting from the first second to the last second. I can't see any early decisions made in this group and it keeps us on our toes.”

There was disappointing news for those looking forward to seeing Zlatan Ibrahimovic in action at Anfield. The 39-year-old was ruled out the game due to an inflamed tendon picked up during his return to action from injury on Sunday.

Ibrahimovic, who turns 40 next month, scored for Milan in their 2-0 Serie A win against Lazio just seven minutes after coming on as a substitute at the San Siro.

“Zlatan would have been on the pitch from the start. But there was some inflammation in his tendon, which can happen after four months out,” Milan manager Stefano Pioli said.

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“We hoped he could still play, and he tried, but he was in pain. It is pointless to take risks, this is an important match, but we have so many other matches after tomorrow.

“These unpredictable absences are part of the game, but we are prepared. I will choose between Ante Rebic and Olivier Giroud for who will start, we are covered. I am sorry for Zlatan, but he will be back soon.”

Liverpool, meanwhile, were mightily impressive in their 3-0 Premier League win at Leeds United on Sunday that saw Mohamed Salah score his 100th Premier League goal. But the victory was marred by a horrific injury to midfielder Harvey Elliott, who was left in agony after a challenge by Pascal Struijk that left the teenager with a dislocated ankle.

Struijk, 22, was shown a straight red card by referee Craig Pawson after VAR intervention for his second-half challenge although both sets of players and managers — as well as most pundits — agreed there was no malice in the incident.

Leeds confirmed their appeal against the decision on Tuesday and said they would not be making a statement until the outcome is known. Klopp confirmed that Elliott is set to undergo surgery.

“I spoke to him after the game and he was in the best possible place for that moment,” said Klopp. “He had already accepted it and knew he would be out for a while. Today he is in London and will probably have the surgery.

“Obviously that is the next step on the road back, so we all wait for news from that.”

Updated: September 14th 2021, 2:50 PM
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