Jürgen Klopp hoping to see Liverpool take "the next step" by securing Champions League group stage berth

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp believes his side can take the "next step" in their progression with victory over Hoffenheim to book their place in this season's Champions League group stages.

Jürgen Klopp hoping to see Liverpool take "the next step" by securing Champions League group stage berth
(Picture: Getty Images - Jan Kruger)

Jürgen Klopp believes qualifying for the Champions League is the next step in both his Liverpool team's progression and their season ahead of their final qualifying round second-leg against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.

The Reds lead 2-1 from the first-leg in Germany last week thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's stunning free-kick - his first goal for the club - and James Milner's deflected effort.

But the clash is far from over ahead of the return tie at Anfield, as Klopp is aware, laying down the gauntlet for his side to take "the next step" by booking a berth in the competition's group stages.

Having not reached the Champions League knockout rounds since 2009, and having only participated in the groups twice in the last eight years, Klopp sees re-establishing Liverpool as an elite European outfit as a key target under his stewardship. 

Liverpool have won two of their first three games of the season - drawing the other - in a positive start to the campaign, but Klopp believes his side have to ensure their progress in Europe to back it up.

Speaking about the opportunity to reach the groups, the German manager insisted that it does not make "a lot of sense" to "think about the consequences" of squandering the chance to do so.

"It is not about what can happen, it is about what we can influence," Klopp continued. "We have to make the next step. The big difference between the game last week and now is that everybody knows how strong the opponent is."

He added that Liverpool "have a good result" to take into their second clash with the Bundesliga outfit, insisting that while it is "not a perfect one" it is "a good one" and they must ensure helps them "put it to bed" using "the power of Anfield."

Klopp said that Liverpool took "the whole of last season" to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League, adding: "If you like, this is part of last season and we want to close this case in the most positive way. We are all excited about the possibility. We have to deliver."

 

"Liverpool and Anfield needs European nights"

Liverpool have a long history with famous European contests at Anfield and after a season without any following a near-miss in the Europa League in 2015-16, Klopp acknowledged the importance of Hoffenheim's visit.

He noted the "legend about Anfield on European nights" and said they are "really special" and that Liverpool "need these special nights."

"Everyone who wants this needs to do their job," Klopp continued. "I can guarantee the boys will fight for everything. It does not mean we will do it, but it means we will fight for it. I hope we will show the world what we are able to do."

The Reds boss said that there are "different ways to look at this game", explaining that it appears differently looking "on it as a final" or "in different ways as a fan, as an owner, as a player or as a manager."

But he insisted that "it is a football game" and that his players "have to do the right things and show a perfect attitude" and insisted their performance must include "perfect organisation" and being "hard and concentrated."

Klopp insisted he is not considering the consequences of a setback, stating: "It is not allowed to make it bigger from my point of view. I am not going to say to the players: 'Oh, think about what will happen if we don't do it'."

Touching upon the "positive performance" of the first-leg, Klopp said that Liverpool need to replicate their display as he warned against complacency. 

He declared: "Usually people in England think you get fourth place and you are automatically through but this year it is different. The teams are stronger. We know nothing is guaranteed, but everything is possible and that is enough."

 

Klopp "fine" with Reds' start to the season

Klopp will remain without playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who is now suffering from illness on top of struggling with a back injury.

The Brazilian has been subject to heavy interest from Barcelona this summer with Liverpool insistent he would not be allowed to leave throughout a complicated saga.

Klopp insists the ongoing speculation regarding Coutinho's future - with Barcelona reportedly preparing a fourth bid after suggestions they had conceded defeat in their pursuit of the 25-year-old - has not distracted his side so far this term. 

"That is how we have to handle injuries and the other things," he explained, adding that "if you suffer too much then you have to get back on track" which he feels is what Liverpool did.

Klopp declared himself "fine with things so far" because Liverpool have "improved already from the Watford game to the Hoffenheim game to the Crystal Palace game", adding: "Now we want to make the next step."