Roberto Firmino’s injury-time goal gave UEFA champions Liverpool a hard-fought 2-1 win over Monterrey of Mexico on Wednesday to reach the final of the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.
Firmino came off the bench to turn in a cross from fellow substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 91st minute at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha after Naby Keita’s early opener for a weakened Liverpool side had swiftly been cancelled out by Argentine striker Rogelio Funes Mori.
Having taken time out from their seemingly relentless march towards the Premier League title to travel to Qatar, Liverpool will be relieved at coming through this test, and they remain on course to win this competition for the first time.
However, they must now beat a Flamengo side who have won the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian title in the last month under Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, and who will have had an extra day to prepare for the final after defeating Saudi club Al-Hilal 3-1 on Tuesday.
“Tough game, really tough game,” said Klopp when asked about the prospect of facing Flamengo in what will be a repeat of the 1981 Intercontinental Cup final, when a Brazilian team captained by Zico beat Bob Paisley’s European Cup holders 3-0 in Tokyo.
“Flamengo’s season is over, they are here with a full squad, but we just have to recover as quickly as possible and then make ourselves ready.”
He will hope to have Virgil van Dijk back fit for the final after the inspirational Dutch centre-back sat out the Monterrey game due to illness, leaving skipper Jordan Henderson to partner Joe Gomez in defence.
“It was an easy decision because he couldn’t train yesterday — he was on the pitch for a couple of minutes until the media left, and then unfortunately he had to leave as well,” Klopp said about Van Dijk, who has played in every Premier League and Champions League game this season. “We will see how quick he can recover.”
In addition, Klopp chose to leave Sadio Mane on the bench at kick-off along with Firmino and Alexander-Arnold, instead handing starts to the likes of Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi.