London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League may be over with the club languishing seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Liverpool have a match in hand over Thomas Tuchel’s men but Chelsea are full of confidence after reaching the Champions League final.
By contrast, the defending Premier League champions, who have five games left to play, conceded damaging late equalisers in their past two matches to leave them well off the pace.
Klopp accepts that even taking into account season-ending injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip — with captain Jordan Henderson also sidelined since February — they have fallen short.
Liverpool, European champions in 2019, face the prospect of playing Europa League football next season.
“We drew the last two so it didn’t help,” Klopp said on Friday. “I’m not sure there is still a chance but we’ll try to make sure that if there is one, we will be there.
“We could be fifth or fourth of course, we should have done better in specific moments, but with the title we couldn’t deal with the injuries as well as we wanted.”
The Liverpool boss, whose side host Southampton on Saturday, said his team had suffered too many injuries in key positions to stay competitive.
“I know people think that’s an excuse,” he said. “But it’s like in the moment when we lost our full defence it felt like you break your leg.
“That’s OK, you can still limp with that. But then we had to make our midfielders, to transform them, into defenders. Then we broke pretty much our spine on top of that and then it’s difficult to move.”
The German said initially Liverpool, who topped the table in January, kept winning despite their problems.
“But we always knew it is a long season to come and if anything else happens then we will struggle,” he said. “And that’s what happened.”
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