Klopp: Neymar world-class but not a defender

You are currently viewing Klopp: Neymar world-class but not a defender
  • Post published:September 19, 2018

Neymar was targeted by Liverpool due to his defensive weaknesses, manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed after the Reds’ last-gasp Champions League win.

Roberto Firmino came off the bench to rifle in a stoppage-time winner at Anfield after Paris Saint-Germain had battled back from 2-0 down in Tuesday’s Group C opener.

Neymar was involved in creating Kylian Mbappe’s late equaliser but the Brazilian otherwise struggled to exert much influence on a pulsating contest, with PSG’s attack lacking fluidity.

And Neymar regularly failed to track runs from Trent Alexander-Arnold, with one such foray from the Liverpool right-back contributing to Daniel Sturridge’s headed opener.

Klopp revealed Liverpool deliberately targeted the PSG left wing as he knew Neymar would not follow Alexander-Arnold when the defender got forward.

‘They changed a bit of the system, we expected it and didn’t think too much about it,’ Klopp told BT Sport.

‘Neymar on the left was not a bad idea and makes defending more difficult, we needed more focus and we felt we did really well.

‘We covered a lot of yards and closed all the gaps and when we had the ball made them run and used the right wing.

‘Neymar is world-class but not a defender so we tried to do that.’

Sturridge was making his first Champions League start since March 2012, with Firmino only deemed fit enough for the bench after missing training due to an eye injury.

The Brazil international made the difference with a brilliant 91st-minute winner, celebrating by covering up his eye, but Klopp made sure he highlighted Sturridge’s contribution.

‘Super game from Daniel, I told him before the game that I never saw him as fit as he is now,’ Klopp added.

‘And he used that to get all over the park and keep the ball for us.

‘Then you can bring Bobby Firmino on and that helps a lot. I loved his goal celebration.’

Thomas Meunier’s low volley cut Liverpool’s lead in the first half and the Belgium international suggested PSG should consider following the Reds’ tactical plan.

‘We have done what we could, we are trying to introduce a new tactical plan and for the moment we are not doing too badly,’ Meunier said to RMC Sport.

‘The pressure was strong with a super high Liverpool block. We also tried to keep our block a little higher. To play with a low block at this level is to shoot yourself in the foot. We managed quite well defensively.

‘Nothing catastrophic, we have all the cards in hand for qualification. We could take Liverpool as an example with their deep, simple, fast game, with a lot of intensity.’