Jurgen Klopp warned his Liverpool team to be wary of a “fresh” Chelsea side under Frank Lampard as the Premier League rivals prepare to clash in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul on Wednesday.
The Anfield outfit are tipped to lift more silverware by the Bosphorus after ending a seven-year trophy drought by winning last season’s Champions League.
Their opponents, meanwhile, are in Turkey by virtue of their victory in the Europa League final in May but have since lost star player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.
After leading Derby County to the Championship play-off final last season, Lampard has replaced Maurizio Sarri in the dugout but the former midfielder endured a difficult start, with Chelsea hammered 4-0 by Manchester United in their Premier League opener.
“If you only saw the result you had no idea how the game was because it was a very good game,” insisted Klopp on Tuesday.
“They are a really interesting team, good plan, Frank did an outstanding job last year at Derby, changed the football there in the Championship, where for a football-playing side being successful is really difficult.
“He did it and was unlucky at the end against a strong Aston Villa team (in the play-off final) not to get promoted, but now he is at Chelsea, his club, everything is fresh, everybody will be ready and on their toes.”
Liverpool are hopeful their momentum will carry them through this campaign after they became European champions for the sixth time, yet there are concerns over how little time off some of their leading players have had in the summer.
“It was a difficult pre-season, and not only for us,” said the German, whose team lost the Community Shield on penalties to Manchester City before beating Norwich City 4-1 in their opening league match.
“Physically we are there now, we are exactly where we want to be. That is not at 100 percent, but we will not have that until September or October probably.
“We won one competition last year, that’s all. This team is built for being successful and that is what we try to do. Tomorrow night is another chance for us.”
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He added: “If people really think that Chelsea is not a real challenge then I can’t help these people.
“They are really strong and young and fresh, and everything is exciting in the moment because Frank is there, new, the club legend.
“It will be really interesting, and for us it’s a really important game.”
Liverpool have won the Super Cup on three previous occasions, most recently in 2005 when they defeated CSKA Moscow fresh from coming back from three goals down to beat AC Milan on penalties and win the Champions League in Istanbul.
Defender Dejan Lovren is out due to illness for the Reds, while Naby Keita is a concern after coming off the pitch during training on Tuesday evening at the Vodafone Park, home of Turkish Super Lig side Besiktas.
Meanwhile, recent signing Adrian will start in goal in the absence of Alisson Becker, who is set to miss several weeks with a calf injury.
“This is his second week, since then we’ve been working day in, day out, and I think for him it is obviously very good that he starts playing straight away,” said defender Virgil van Dijk of the Spanish shot-stopper.
“It obviously is not the situation that you hope to be in, that Alisson is getting injured and you have to come in, but he is experienced enough to go out there and show his qualities.”