Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits Flamengo will present a tough test in the Club World Cup final in Qatar but promised his side will be “different” on Saturday.
The Reds laboured to a 2-1 victory over Monterrey as they struggled with injuries and absences, a makeshift defence, experimental midfield and determined opponents.
Liverpool were missing Virgil Van Dijk with illness, meaning midfielder Jordan Henderson had to play alongside their one fit centre-back Joe Gomez, while the trio of Adam Lallana, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, which Klopp admitted was the most offensive he had fielded during his time at the club, struggled to get a handle on the midfield battle.
In their semi-final, Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo came from behind to comfortably beat Al Hilal 24 hours earlier, arguably an easier task and completed with virtually a fully-fit squad.
They pose a distinctly more difficult prospect as Liverpool try to win the only trophy to so far evade them after three previous failed attempts.
One of those occasions was a 3-0 defeat in 1981 against Flamengo, a game their fans regard as the biggest match in their history, but Klopp has promised his team will be better.
“Tough game, a really tough game. But we watched the game (against Al Hilal), I saw a lot and we will watch more games,” said Klopp.
“One game is important but it is not all about that. It was an open game for a long period.
“We will see who deals better with the circumstances, who has more right decisions.
“We will be a different opponent, of course.”
Klopp will hope Van Dijk is fit to return, as they looked a changed side without his reassuring calmness at the back, and he has not yet ruled out midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, who could not play against Monterrey as he was still recovering from a hamstring problem sustained in Saturday’s win over Watford.
The manager is likely to revert to his strongest line-up, which means returns for full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino, who combined for the late winner on Wednesday night, and Sadio Mane.
“We have now to ‘collect our bones’. I don’t know who exactly will be ready for the next game, so we will see,” added Klopp, who had to name two goalkeepers on the bench in a match squad of 18 despite FIFA allowing a full 23 players to be available.
“I saw the bench of Monterrey, there were like 10, 15 players on it, I don’t know.
“Probably Flamengo’s season is over, they are here with the full squad pretty much as well.
“We have just to recover as quick as possible and to make ourselves ready.”
Flamengo’s manager Jorge Jesus is probably more familiar with Liverpool than any other manager in the Brazilian league.
He was in charge of Benfica when the two met in the 2009-10 Europa League quarter-finals, winning 2-1 in Lisbon before being beaten 4-1 at Anfield.
“With Jorge Jesus as a manager, of course there’s a European influence and that’s it, but the players themselves already have quality.
“If there would not be a European coach, it would already be difficult. With Jorge Jesus, (he is) very experienced, very successful in Portugal and now in Brazil as well.
“We have a lot of respect for that but at the end we will try our best and we will see how it will work out.”
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