Juergen Klopp will bounce back from Europa League woe, say ex-Liverpool stars Smicer and Berger
Pair are in Hong Kong for Soccer Sevens and still have faith in boss
Despite their capitulation in Switzerland in the early hours of Thursday morning (HK time), Liverpool have the right man for the massive job at Anfield in Juergen Klopp, according to Uefa Europa League winner and former Liverpool star Patrik Berger.
In Hong Kong this week to participate in the annual HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens tournament, Berger and fellow ex-Czech Republic international Vladimir Smicer said they believed Liverpool were set to claim a fourth Europa League crown after witnessing a dominant first-half performance.
“They were 1-0 up – I thought if they can play that way second half, there is no competition,” said Berger.
“Obviously Sevilla played unbelievably in the second half and I think they were the much better side overall. It’s tough to say, but I think the better side won and lifted the trophy.”
Liverpool handed Sevilla the initiative after conceding a goal less than 20 seconds into the second half and struggled to regain momentum.
“I thought Liverpool were going to win with a Champions League place for next season at stake,” said Smicer.
“The first half was good, but they had a really bad start to the second half. That early goal helped Sevilla and then they played really well.”
Watch Patrik Berger and Vladimir Smicer discuss the Europa League final
Liverpool were out-thought and out-fought in a mismatched second half that saw defending champions Sevilla claim a third title in three years, as well as a place in the group stage of next season’s Uefa Champions League.
“I was hoping Liverpool would get in the Champions League so it would be a little easier for them to attract big players,” said Berger. “Now that’s going to be a little more difficult.”
The defeat means there will be no continental competition for Liverpool next season as Klopp begins the task of building a squad capable of challenging for the Premier League title.
“I think Klopp is the right man for the job and I have faith in him. I think he is a great man and he will do very well for Liverpool,” added Berger.
The former Liverpool teammates met local media yesterday ahead of the start of the Masters event at the Soccer Sevens this evening.
Berger and Smicer will join other ex-Premier League stars including Frank Sinclair, Matt Jansen, Luis Boa Morte and Tony Warner in representing the sponsor’s Citi All Stars side in the Masters section of the tournament.
They have been drawn alongside Wallsend Boys Club, Hong Kong Football Club Veterans, Singapore Cricket Club Tigers and local amateur select team Yau Yee League Masters.
Yau Yee League Masters coach Adam Wise spoke of his team’s excitement at the opportunity to compete with some former greats of the game.
“Obviously the lads are excited to be going up against some top players. Just the names like Berger and Smicer are the big ones,” said the Englishman, who plays for current Yau Yee league champions German All Stars.
“We’ve done a month or so of preparation and whittled a pool of 20-plus players down to 11, so we’re ready.
“It’s good to be first up against the Citi Masters because we’ll still have that enthusiasm and we hope we can catch them cold,” added Wise.
The Masters event gets underway at Hong Kong Football Club from 6pm.