Jurgen Klopp Says Liverpool Are Not UCL Favourites; Talks Up Juventus and PSG

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2020

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 01: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool  holds aloft the trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has talked up his team's rivals for the UEFA Champions League title this season, saying he considered Juventus as the favourites for the prize at the start of the campaign.

The Reds were beaten in the 2018 final by Real Madrid, although they went one step further last term, winning 2-0 against Tottenham Hotspur in the Spanish capital to clinch their sixth European crown.

They will continue the defence of their title on Tuesday when they head back to the Wanda Metropolitano to face Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 knockout clash.

Ahead of that encounter, Klopp discussed some of the Reds' possible rivals in this season's tournament, per Paul Wilson of the Guardian:

"Juventus were my favourites before the season started but obviously I don't watch Italian football enough because I cannot work out why they are not 10 points ahead at the top of Serie A. They have the biggest squad I have ever seen in my life; quality players, too, it's crazy.

"The Bayern Munich squad is also massive, [Paris Saint-Germain] are incredible when they are all fit, you can never discount Barcelona, and let's not forget Manchester City because the Champions League will be one of their big targets. 

"I have no clue how far we can go, but there's no need to think about it yet because at the moment all we need to concentrate on is Atletico on Tuesday."

Here are the highlights from last year's final, when the Reds were able to get the edge over their Premier League rivals in a tight encounter:

Liverpool have excelled in European competition since Klopp arrived at the club in 2015. They made it to the UEFA Europa League final in his first season in charge before advancing to the previous two Champions League showpieces.

The Anfield Watch Twitter account outlined Klopp's almost flawless record in continental competition since he took charge on Merseyside:

While Klopp has talked up a number of possible rivals, none of the teams in question are in as good a place as Liverpool at the moment. The Reds have been sensational in the Premier League and are a whopping 22 points clear at the top.

Juventus have depth aplenty, although their form has been inconsistent as of late under Maurizio Sarri. In Cristiano Ronaldo, they have a proven game-changer when it comes to the Champions League, although there's not a settled side around him at the moment.

Per ESPN FC, the 35-year-old appears to be hitting form at a perfect time in the campaign:

Elsewhere, Barcelona and PSG also look vulnerable in defence, despite being able to call on superstars like Lionel Messi and Neymar, respectively, at the top end of the pitch.

Real Madrid and Manchester City will face off in the second round, meaning one of those big names will be eliminated. Madrid have Zinedine Zidane in charge, who masterminded a win over Liverpool in the 2018 final, while City will be desperate to progress in the competition after it was confirmed on Friday they are facing a two-year ban from UEFA tournaments.

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