Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is bracing for a "difficult" 90 minutes when his side face Spartak Moscow in the Champions League group stages on Tuesday night.
The Reds' second group game, and their first in two weeks, sees them face the Russian Premier League champions on their own turf in the capital.
Yet while Spartak have only won one of their last six league games and sit a disappointing 13 points off first place domestically, Klopp believes his team will face a tough test in the form of Massimo Carrera's side.
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Klopp: Spartak encounter will be "intense"
Previewing the game at his pre-match press conference, Klopp – when asked what kind of games he is expecting – replied: "Intense. Difficult. How Champions League football is. Spartak are a very strong side, very experienced side, [and were] very successful last year."
Acknowledging their poor form this term, the German noted that they have had "problems with a few injuries" but said that as a "football-playing side" who are "very experienced", Liverpool "will be ready" and "need to be ready" because they travel to a "difficult place to win."
Spartak are expected to be without winger Quincy Promes, the club’s top goalscorer for the past three seasons and their current leading scorer this season too.
Yet despite talking about the quality of Dutch international Promes, whom Klopp showed an interest back in January, the Reds boss does not believe the challenge of facing the Russian side is particularly easier in his absence.
He added: "He didn't play in the last one or two games because he was injured. He's a very good player - his speed, he's good in one-on-one situations - so obviously it's a weakness for each team [to lose him]."
Klopp likened Promes' absence to Liverpool being without Mané for three games, who he says is "also a very good player", and insisted Promes is "not the only good player in the Spartak team" although he's "a very good one."
He accepted that the absence of key players "always affects performances" but explained: "We will not win because one player is out, or Spartak can win because one player is in."
Klopp said that Liverpool "have to play together" and acknowledged while he is uncertain as to whether Promes can be involved for the home side, their pre-match analysis was made "without him because he didn't play in the last game."
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Reds boss unconcerned by long wait for Champions League away win
Liverpool have not won a Champions League away game since December 2009, but Klopp is far from concerned by such a statistic and labelled it a "a number, nothing else" as he said that "records like that are a problem only when people can remember them."
"We are not the same team, only the same name," he added. "In the past a lot of teams won the Champions League and then had no chance for the next five, six, ten years. Things change. We had to start new, that is clear, but we are ready for the Champions League."
Klopp warned that his side must not "misjudge the circumstances or the names" and that if they don’t, then they will be "really ready for the competition."
The German called it both "really exciting" and "a bit like an adventure" as he explained he has never previously been to Moscow before, and on the opposition, reiterated: "We know their style of play. They are a football-playing side and an experienced side. They’ve struggled results-wise this season but this is a different competition and they still have quality. It will be interesting."
He noted that Liverpool "started with a home game" which was "not positive" because they "didn't win", but called it "still a point" and said his side must "take it game-by-game" and not worry about topping the group.
On the test of a trip to Russia, Klopp said: "It should not be a big problem. Okay, the atmosphere is different for sure but the pitch is the same grass and pretty much the same size as Anfield so that is not a problem. It is a big opportunity. It's an away game against a strong side who were champions last year. It is exciting."