Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool's Sevilla trip is the game we've been looking forward to

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp believes his side's Champions League group stage showdown with Sevilla in Spain is the kind of high-profile European fixture that the Reds have anticipated.

Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool's Sevilla trip is the game we've been looking forward to
(Picture: Getty Images - Cristina Quicler)

Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool's trip to face Sevilla is the kind of mouthwatering Champions League tie the club have looked forward to despite the challenge that the La Liga side will pose.

Los Rojiblancos have not lost on home soil for almost exactly a year, going 25 league and cup matches without defeat, and are just a point behind the Reds in Group E.

Victory for either side will ensure their place in the competition's first knockout round in February, meaning an enthralling end-to-end clash is likely in sunny Seville on Tuesday night.

Liverpool are unbeaten in Europe so far this season, winning twice and drawing twice in the group stages - including a 2-2 draw in the return clash with Sevilla at Anfield - and will hope to continue that by ensuring their place in the last-16. 

Reds "looking forward" to tough Sevilla test

Klopp refused to call the clash a "true test" as he said: "Then if we fail, what then? This is a tough place to come. The good thing is what we did in the last month results-wise has given us confidence, to come here to say: 'Okay we are ready for this game."

The German called Liverpool's Champions League campaign "a really interesting journey" with "different games and different experiences."

"Facing Sevilla in Seville, this is the game," he declared. "They are a good football-playing team. That's how the Champions League should be and we're looking forward to it."

Klopp acknowledged that the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium is "famous for atmosphere" and touched upon his previous two visits with his Mainz and Borussia Dortmund sides.

He explained that it was "special before and during the game", insisting it is "kind of south European emotional" which "makes it special." 

Yet he warned: "We're not here to enjoy the atmosphere, we're here to get a result. It's no excuse that we're not at home."

Klopp insisted that the first meeting was a "good" performance from his side but bemoaned that they "only got a point" and are in Spain to "try our best again."

"It is not a test," he said. "But what we've done so far is the preparation for us and we should be prepared for this."

Klopp insists Liverpool are progressing defensively

Liverpool are on their best run of form this season, winning their last four in all competitions - all by a three-goal margin.

Yet it is the Reds' defending that has most pleased Klopp, with only one goal conceded across games against Huddersfield Town, Maribor, West Ham United and Southampton.

Klopp admitted that Liverpool have done "a lot of things" to be "more stable" at the back, noting that they have had "two or three situations" where they had "an individual problems" but that "in all the other parts it was a team problem."

The Reds boss felt that Huddersfield and West Ham were "similar" because the Terriers "had no counter-attacks" which Klopp felt they tried to.

"That was the first really important step for us," Klopp said, calling their latest European contest - a home game with Maribor - their "next challenge."

He explained: "Usually in games like this when you don't score early, the first counter-attack for your opponent opens the game. They think 'Oh, now we can start to attack'. That week was not only a very important week for us results-wise."

Klopp insisted that Liverpool must "control" games that they are "really dominant" in, calling upon his players to be "100 per-cent focused in these moments." 

He insisted that "being focused" is their main issue and that they don't have "a quality problem", stating that Liverpool's back-line must "focus on a situation."

"When we have the ball be an option to receive it or if you cannot be an option then you give protection. Simple as that," he declared. "It is not about counter-pressing all the time. If we can counter-press, do it. If not, go back and defend together. That's the thing we have lacked in one or two games. I think, and I hope, that we are now a step further in this."

"We must show our improvement again"

Klopp praised the professionalism of Liverpool's win over Southampton at the weekend but insists there can be no let-up in Andalusia. 

"We will have to show our new maturity 100 per-cent in this atmosphere," he warned, insisting that they "do not need to run in only one direction and try to win the game in the first second."

Instead, he believes Liverpool "have to show how the last games were" against Sevilla, who he says are "a high-quality opponent" who "have all the things you need."

He praised their "experienced strikers" and "quick strikers" who are "ready for channelled balls" and said "midfielders [StevenN’Zonzi, [Éver] Banega, [JesúsNavas" are "quick in behind."

"It is different things that they have," he said on Sevilla's approach. "That makes it really exciting. When you prepare for a game like this you think: 'Oh my god, they are really good.' It's interesting to face them. We have improved and developed but we have to show that again. This will be a tough game for both teams."