Exclusive: Liverpool and Croatia defender Dejan Lovren on defending UEFA Champions League title, anticipates the challenge of winning Premier League crown

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool currently stands six points clear at the top of the Premier League ahead of reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. The reigning UEFA Champions League holders impressive 17-match winning streak came to an abrupt end courtesy of a 1-1 draw against bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on October 20.

 

Klopp’s side, who have conceded seven goals in all competitions this term, grabbed a vital late point at Old Trafford via an 85th goal from Adam Lallana; Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United went ahead in the 35th minute thanks to a fine finish from Marcus Rashford. Liverpool’s controversial 1-1 draw against the Red Devils, which was marred with VAR drama, ended any probability of the 18-time league champions equalling Manchester City’s record all-time 18-game winning streak in the Premier League, a monumental feat achieved under Pep Guardiola during City’s domestic double-winning 2017/2018 season.

 

Liverpool, however, have scored the second most goals (21) in the Premier League this season and additionally remain tied with Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United for least goals conceded (seven). Liverpool, who have won by no more than two goals this term in the Premier League, have been highly regarded as early season favorites to win their first league title since 1990 based on their undefeated record this term in the Premier League.

 

Liverpool’s start to their UEFA Champions League campaign meanwhile witnessed the Reds lose 2-0 against Napoli in their first UEFA Champions League group encounter of the 2019/2020 season; late goals in the final eight minutes from Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente separated the differences on the night. The Reds subsequently defeated Red Bull Salzburg in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield to take three points from their first two UEFA Champions League matches this season.

Liverpool faces Genk this evening in the UEFA Champions League and head into the contest having conceded five goals from their opening two UEFA Champions League matches this season. Genk, however, lost 6-2 to Red Bull Salzburg in their opening 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League match. The Belgian club then drew 0-0 with Napoli in their second UEFA Champions League encounter of the season. Both Genk and Red Bull Salzburg have conceded the most goals in the group (six). 

 

Thereafter Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League encounter away against Genk, the six-time champions of Europe have three games to secure qualification into the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. The Reds will play Genk at Anfield (November 5) followed by hosting Napoli at home (November 27) before playing their final UEFA Champions League group encounter of the season against Red Bull Salzburg at the Stadion Wals-Siezenheim (December 10).

 

Elsewhere, Liverpool’s next seven 2019/2020 season fixtures meanwhile are against: Genk (Away – October 23), Tottenham Hotspur (Home – October 27), Arsenal (Home – October 30), Aston Villa (Away – November 2), Genk (Home – November 5), Manchester City (Home – November 10) and Crystal Palace (Away – November 23).

 

Before Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League clash against Genk at the Luminus Arena, FOX Sports Radio 96.9 FM/1340 AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with Liverpool and Croatia defender, Dejan Lovren, to discuss the reigning UEFA Champions League holders desire to win the league for the first time since 1990, coupled alongside Croatia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup finalist touching on defending the UEFA Champions League title, as well as his thoughts on the Reds impressive form and performances so far this season.

 

 

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: Dejan, Liverpool currently stands at the top of the Premier League at this point. However, what’s your assessment so far of the Reds in the 2019/2020 season, especially with regards to where improvements have been made?

 

Dejan Lovren: I think that we have played very well last season for the most parts, but we have often been unable to win the tight matches. We manage to do so this season, even if we do not show the best performance we still win those games. If you look at last season, I’d say that‘s the biggest improvement.

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: With the heavy expectations placed on Liverpool to win the Premier League this season, how important is it to fully put things into perspective one game at a time and not drop points during this stage of the campaign?

 

Dejan Lovren: Yes, that’s extremely important, of course. As you saw last year, every point can be crucial in the end, because the level of other title contenders is so high. But at this time of the season we are not putting much pressure on us. There are still many games to play. That’s why we just look from game to game right now. And this way of thinking works well so far.

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: Elsewhere, can you talk about training at Melwood and the high demands and ultra intensity of the sessions?

 
Dejan Lovren: Klopp demands a lot from us in every training session. But that’s important to us in such a long season. We have a game almost every 3-4 days, so its good for us when we don‘t lose the tension and concentration on the training days. And yes, training at Melwood is, of course, very challenging, but we never lose the fun even in the busy stages of the season or at very intensive training sessions.
 
 
 

Dean Perretta: With regards to the UEFA Champions League this season, what are your thoughts on the overall quality and performances shown thus far from Liverpool?

 
Dejan Lovren: We had a difficult start with the defeat (against Napoli) in Naples. Of course we wanted to get the first points in the Champions League season at Anfield against Salzburg. We got into the game very well and let 3-0 up very quickly, but lost the control in the second half. After the equalizer we first had to find our way back into the match , but we succeeded and it was important that we could turn the game over again and get the first three points in the UCL.
 
 
 

Dean Perretta: Lastly, with Liverpool currently reigning as UEFA Champions League holders, do you feel that any added pressure this time around has and will continue to be used more than positively?

Dejan Lovren: No, I honestly don‘t think so. Of course, we are now the defending champion, but the Champions League is extremely close and it comes to nuances every year and a certain luck in the crucial games is needed for the big hit. We didn‘t feel that pressure last year after we just missed the Champions League title in Kiev and don‘t feel it this season. We give a hundred percent in each game and do not settle for less than last year.
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Dean Perretta

Dean Perretta is a 2x SEA Award-winning creative, Broadcast Journalist, Reporter, Courtside Analyst for BBC televised London Lions and Executive Producer who currently contributes to FOX Sports Radio, FourFourTwo Magazine and Muscle & Fitness Magazine.