Soccer

Jurgen Klopp explains decision to drop Sadio Mane for Divock Origi against AC Milan

Jurgen Klopp previews Liverpool v AC Milan

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Jurgen Klopp made a bold move to drop Sadio Mane for Divock Origi in Wednesday’s Champions League tie against AC Milan – but backed the Belgian striker to fulfil what he has asked of him.

Origi, 26, made his first start in eight months, with his last coming in a 3-1 away win against West Ham in January.

Following the exceptional rise in form of Diogo Jota and Harvey Elliott in recent months, alongside the continued brilliance of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Origi hasn’t really had a fair crack at the whip on Merseyside.

But with Firmino and Elliott picking up injuries, Klopp saw a need to rotate against the Italian giants.

Mane was the unfortunate casualty, but with Jota able to play on the wing and Salah being the star man over the last three seasons, it was likely justified.

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Origi was chosen over Minamino to start – and it looked to have paid dividends as his pressing brought about plenty of opportunities for Liverpool to take a dominating early lead.

The Belgian may not have the skillset of the front three, but his speed and physicality is to be admired – something Klopp claims he can use to his advantage.

“We need speed,” Klopp said to BT.

“This is the same reason, we have to use the squad.

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“Hopefully everyone knows we aren’t disrespecting AC Milan or whatever, it’s just about bringing fresh legs and surprising your opponent a little.”

AC Milan evidently shouldn’t be disrespected, but with the aura that Liverpool possess on European nights at Anfield, there is always that extra lift for any player to do well.

And with a robustness up front, Klopp acknowledges he has constant belief in his striker.

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“He’s a different kind of player so I really believe in Divock, always did and I’m pretty sure he will have a good game tonight.”

Liverpool will look to follow up on a positive result tonight when they travel to Porto in two weeks time.

And having won four of their last five games against the Portuguese giants, Klopp’s men will fancy their chances on the Atlantic coast.

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