Klopp focused on United showdown


Jurgen Klopp believes beating Manchester United should be enough of an incentive in itself as Liverpool prepare to host their rivals in the last-16 of the Europa League.

English football's two most decorated clubs will meet in European competition for the first time at Anfield on Thursday.

With United and Liverpool three and six points shy of the top four in the Premier League at present, winning the Europa League might represent their best chance of achieving Champions League qualification for next season.

Nevertheless, Klopp believes there are few guarantees on either route and is keen to make the most of what he is sure to be a memorable occasion.

"I don't think we should think about [Champions League qualification]," Klopp told a pre-match news conference. "We should take every game at a time.

"In the Premier League and the Europa League it's difficult. In the Premier League we don't play against all the teams ahead of us so it is not in our hands.

"In the Europa League, it is not enough to get into the next round [and say you will win it], there are a lot of other quality teams.

"I think it is enough of a target to want to get to the next round without thinking about the final.

"It is only about this game against Manchester United. It's big enough and it is easy to be completely focused on this job.

"I said after the draw I am happy for this draw, not because I think it is easy but because it is absolutely exciting for everybody. It's a great tournament."

During his time as Borussia Dortmund coach, Klopp enjoyed fierce rivalries with Bayern Munich and Schalke, and he believes clashes between Liverpool and United measure up to any derby in world football.

"This is why I love football," he added. "In every region of the world you have big games like this. Liverpool v United is one of the best I can imagine.

"The crowd will be involved. We do it for them. We enjoy that relationship. The fans can be very decisive.

"I know Liverpool FC and Man United want to be part of the Champions League always. But this is an exciting tournament."

Meanwhile, Liverpool midfielder Pedro Chirivella has signed a contract extension with the club.

The 18-year-old midfielder made his first-team debut against Bordeaux in September and was handed a maiden start in February's FA Cup defeat at West Ham.