Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Liverpool stars tune up for Champions League crunch match - in pictures

Victory over Palace should be enough to finish in top four - and Jurgen Klopp believes that will be an achievement in injury-ravaged season

Last season's Premier League champions Liverpool end a challenging campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday with 10,000 supporters allowed inside Anfield.

The Reds' challenge was decimated by injuries and despite being top of the table at Christmas, a slump in form saw them slide down the table.

Manager Jurgen Klopp lost centre-back Virgil Van Dijk to a season-ending knee injury five matches into the season, partner Joe Gomez joined him on the sidelines three weeks later and, in January, Joel Matip - the one remaining senior central defender - became the third long-term absentee.

Klopp, who oversaw training with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and the remainder of the squad before the final games, believes even Manchester City would have struggled with a similar crisis.

Liverpool will almost certainly qualify for next season's Champions League with a win against Palace - Leicester would have to score five more goals to overhaul them - and Klopp sees that as a top achievement.

"A football team is like an orchestra where plenty of people work together and if you lose one piece you might be able to still do it, but if you lose two then it becomes difficult," he said.

"It is how I said before this year, with the amount of injuries we have had it was not the year to become champions. No chance. For nobody.

"As good as they are, if City have their three centre-halves out, no (they don't win the league). Three centre-halves of United, no.

"For the whole season pretty much too, that is how it is.

"We have fought back a bit, accepted the difficulties and made the best of it, and if we win on Sunday, and if we qualify for the Champions League, then we made the best of it. That is it. So we already did kind of a job but not the one we wanted to do.

"Yes it means as much to me (as the title win). It is clear we wouldn't come to this situation if the boys wouldn't have showed this kind of character. They have very special character."

Published: May 22, 2021 11:12 AM

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