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“They take this f***ing s**t seriously” – Sparta’s dressing room credit Liverpool’s “respect”

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Liverpool inflicted a 5-1 defeat on Sparta Prague in the first leg of their Europa League tie, and dressing room footage shows how Jurgen Klopp‘s team selection was viewed as a show of “respect.”

The Reds host the second leg of their last 16 tie on Thursday evening with a healthy four-goal advantage, though Klopp may not be able to rotate as heavily as he would like despite the scoreline.

With a long injury list still to consider and UEFA squad rules, a host of senior players will be involved, just like they were in the Czech Republic last week.

Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah were the notable absentees from the starting lineup in the first leg, and Sparta manager Brian Priske took pride in Klopp naming a strong team.

In Sparta’s version of ‘Inside Anfield’, if you will, Priske is filmed giving his team talk in the dressing room, and it makes for quite enlightening viewing.

He said to his team: “No Salah and no Van Dijk, the rest is good quality. I see respect, respect for you guys for the lineup they bring.

“It is respect and credit to you guys, they came here to fight and to play. And they take this f***ing sh*t seriously, I think it’s a credit to us and you guys.

“Despite what they put out, I want to see you guys play our football. Have the courage to play, the structure to play – you know exactly how we want to play.

“I want to see you guys play football because they will come with speed, intensity that you probably never faced before, so your decisions have to be better in every aspect.”

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Thursday, March 7, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz scores the fourth goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg match between AC Sparta Praha and Liverpool FC at Stadion Letná. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is not something we are likely to see in Liverpool’s new documentary series, but it is an interesting insight into how a team builds themselves up to face the Reds.

And Priske’s side certainly did what he asked by sticking to their principles against the Reds, though the scoreline was not entirely reflective of how the first leg played out.

You can bet they will look to do the same at Anfield against what will expected to be a strong but rotated Liverpool.