Liverpool's biggest challenge is to improve as a defensive unit, insists Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool's biggest challenge is to improve as a defensive unit, insists Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp believes his side's priority must be to improve upon their defensive organisation as a team as he hailed a "good all-round performance" following a win over Crystal Palace.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp insists Liverpool's target is to improve defensively as they continued their pre-season preparations with a Premier League Asia Trophy win over Crystal Palace

The Reds took on their fellow Premier League side for their third pre-season friendly of the summer so far, with the clash representing Palace's first senior warm-up.

And Liverpool were unsurprisingly fitter and sharper as they ground out a 2-0 victory thanks to strikes in the second-half from substitutes Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi.

But despite a pleasing performance at a packed Hong Kong Stadium, Klopp believes his charges still need to improve at the back and must continue to work on their collective organisation with the Premier League's opening weekend little over three weeks away.

He explained: "I said before the game, our biggest challenge is to get stronger defensively as a team, more concentrated. It’s not about individual quality, we have no problem with this."

The German noted that "in different moments" his side "need to be a little bit more focused in the situation" or find themselves "too long in the situation when it has already changed."

He declared that Liverpool "know where the problem is" and noted that in the second-half they "changed everything" including "a little bit the formation", switching to a 4-4-1-1 to counter Palace's three at the back.

"It was very good with Divock and Dominic, to have two strikers. It was nice to watch actually, so all good," added Klopp.

Liverpool played "good football as a team"

On Liverpool's display, he hailed "an all-round good performance" after what was "the most difficult circumstances for both teams because it was really hard training."

He explained that in pre-season teams "have to train hard" to get players fit and noted also that "it was hot" which also affected their fitness levels on the night.

Yet despite the conditions, Klopp felt "both teams played good football in the first-half" and singled out Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke for particular praise.

He said that the trio made it "really difficult" for Liverpool but lauded his players for how they "defended well" and "played good football as a team."

Klopp insisted: "We played good football as a team, the passing and movement was good, and the runs in behind were good. We were patient until we should have sped up. But we did, came in behind, opened gaps, but didn’t score. That’s how football is."

He added that in the second-half his side "tried, kept on going and made a lot of changes" and then hailed a "very nice" opening goal from summer signing Solanke.

He felt that the goal was "individual" in Solanke's part, the striker turning to fire across the goalkeeper without even looking up, but said also that it was "already kind of team play with one individual performance."

"The second goal was team play, we were in the box with a lot of players and then we could finish the situation. It was nice, really nice," Klopp enthused.

Reds "looking forward" to Saturday's final

Liverpool's win over Palace means they face Leicester City in the competition's final at the same venue on Saturday.

Klopp was asked whether he was confident his side could produce a similar level of performance against the Foxes, but insisted that he hopes so because Liverpool "have now three days to train."

He explained: "We’re already looking forward to Saturday’s final. If you are part of a tournament, you want to be in the final. This is a little tournament, only a semi-final and then the final, but it's good."

Klopp said that having played Palace in the league and lost to them, they should "try to change" their recent record against Leicester too - having lost to them in two of their last three meetings including the most recent in February.

"We will be there and we will try everything," he added. "That’s the most important thing."

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