Sports Burst: Klopp - The New Mourinho?

Reuters

By Tim Stannard

 

Klopp in full Mourinho mind-game mode as Liverpool head to Italy to take on Napoli 

 

The last few weeks have been a miserable experience for soccer fans.

The combined double whammy of the soul-sucking empty void of an international break combined with the closing of the transfer window saw harsh reality trying to cram its way into this particular sporting bubble. 

Some may have resorted to watching the basketball World Cup to seek solace. Pity these poor souls. 

But fear not, the gloom has been lifted. 

The Champions League is back.

Sports Burst is going to be polite and kick off with the champions of the Champions who get their defense of the title underway on Tuesday with Liverpool traveling to take on Napoli. The Anfield outfit have been in steam-rolling mode in the Premier League winning five from five. 

 

But Jurgen Klopp says that this record plus being Champions League holders does not make them the planet's top dogs. 

"We cannot be the best team in Europe as Manchester City are the best team in the world," said the Liverpool boss in full Jose Mourinho mind-game mode. 

Napoli, on the other hand, have been quite peculiar since the start of the season having won two games from three in Serie A but possessing the second leakiest defense in the division. 

However, the Serie A side will take heart from the experience of last season when the two teams were also paired off in the group stages and Napoli came away with the 1-0 win. 

There is a double dose of the Sports Burst live show today and tomorrow with the normal show at 12PM ET / 9AM PT followed by a Champions League reaction special, straight after the whistle has blown across the old country. 

 

Late call on Messi doing battle against Borussia Dortmund 

 

The Champions League is just so exciting that even Lionel Messi has decided to come down from the stands and suit up for the first time this season. 

The Argentinean ace is set to feature for Barca at last having recovered from a calf injury but faces a veritable trial by fire against Borussia Dortmund, in Germany. 

 

"A rival of the highest level," was the verdict of Ernesto Valverde who says that Messi is not guaranteed to start in this particular encounter. "We'll decide before the game," offered the Spaniard. 

Barcelona's opponents from Saturday, Valencia, are traveling to Chelsea which is having a very warm beer, fish and chips vibe with the club's 11 last goalscorers in the EPL being English and 21 and under. 

"I'm confident but aware of the dangers," announced Frank Lampard on opponents to Stamford Bridge who are in disarray having opted to fire their now former coach, Marcelino, before the weekend for no good reason. 

"It is what it is," said new boss, Albert Celades, all on his own after the players refused to attend Monday's press conference in protest at Marcelino's dismissal.

 

The best of the rest in the Champions...

 

Sorry Cleveland Browns, no time to laud a Monday night rout of the New York Jets - Sports Burst is going all in on the Champions League today. 

There are eight matches in all on Tuesday across two different time slots. The early kick offs sees Lyon hosting Zenit and Antonio Conte's Inter looking to extend fairly impressive domestic form into Europe against visiting Slavia Prague. 

Those who want to be contrary and avoid the matches involving the big cheeses might well want to focus on Ajax taking on Lille which could see some tremendous beard-stroking action in appreciation, while the Bundesliga leaders, RB Leipzig travels to Portugal to play Benfica. 

Finally, the game that only a few people in Austria and Belgium are going to watch - Salzburg against Genk. Have fun with that. 

 

In early Wednesday team news, Real Madrid's defense is going to be a little threadbare against PSG on Wednesday. Sergio Ramos and Nacho are suspended while Marcelo misses out on the squad through injury.