June 2, 2023

‘We’ll be raring to go come 8pm’ – Andy Robertson previews Ajax tie

The prospect of securing a spot in the last 16 of the Champions League with a game to spare leaves Andy Robertson and Liverpool determined to seize such a rare opportunity.

The Reds head into the Group D encounter with AFC Ajax tonight aware avoiding defeat would confirm their place in the knockout rounds of the competition. 

It means a draw against the Eredivisie outfit will be good enough for Jürgen Klopp’s side, though that information won’t be on their minds when they take to the field. 

Read on as Liverpoolfc.com caught up with Robertson ahead of the 8pm GMT kick-off…

Andy, the start of another intense week for Liverpool – two home games, starting with Ajax…

It’s relentless just now, we’ve got games thick and fast but we look forward to the games – especially here, there is no better place to play. So a really tough test on Tuesday against Ajax. We know what’s at stake, we know if we win we are into the last 16, which would be a really big step for us and that is our main focus just now. We have enough time in the week to look ahead to Wolves, but Ajax are full of confidence just now and they have picked up some really good results since we last played them and they will come here with confidence. But it’s up to us to be at our best and we believe if we are then hopefully that will be good enough to get us the three points.

Even a draw would be good enough to send you through, but the mentality of this team is always to try to win the game, isn’t it?

We’ve never done that and we’ve always gone into games looking for wins. I don’t think we’d know how to set up for a draw and not many teams play just for a 0-0. So, every team goes out there and tries to win and we are definitely no different, Ajax will be no different. So we’ll go out there and we’ll give it our all, give 100 per cent. It’s been another quick turnaround but we’ll be raring to go come 8pm on Tuesday night and hopefully we can get it done and be in the last 16 with a game to spare, which we’ve not done since I’ve been here and it’s always been down to the last game. So it would be nice to change that and hopefully be comfortably into the last 16.

That game in the Netherlands, even though you won it 1-0, it was such a crazy, open game with so many chances at either end of the field…

It feels a long time ago with the number of games we’ve played since then, but it was an incredible game, a lot of chances. They had a couple of big ones and we had quite a few big ones and I can’t believe it only finished 1-0, to be honest with you! But we were delighted with that and that was a great way to start off the campaign. So it’s a good moment for us to go and try to finish the group, try to finish top and get qualified. Whether it will be a similar game or not, only time will tell, but we’ll prepare for all outcomes and situations. And if we turn up at our best, I believe we can be good enough to win this game.

How intense is it this year, given the group stages are very different to how it’s been before and you are playing every week?

Obviously in normal times before COVID, the Champions League was played every two to three weeks and you kind of got a breather in between, but it’s every single week this season and it’s constant and quite quick, of course. I can’t believe we are talking about being nearly in the last 16 already as it feels like it was only two to three weeks ago we just started it! Look, we’ve got a tough group and a group full of quality. We’ve seen that from all of the teams and if we can get the win and seal our last-16 place then it will be massive for us because it’s no secret: we want to go all the way in this tournament and we want to go far in it again. But the first step is to get through the group and we can make that step on Tuesday night and that’s what’s going to be in the forefront of our minds.

Watch: Jürgen Klopp’s pre-Ajax press conference

Of course, this will be your final home game fully behind closed doors before you can get some fans back at Anfield, which will be amazing…

Of course. We’ve missed the fans in here. Since COVID, we’ve made so many memories in here, like the Crystal Palace game, the Chelsea game and even good games this season, like 4-3 against Leeds United. But you just wish that Anfield was full. I know on Sunday it’s not going to be full, but it will be great to just have 2,000 back in. Just to have people who are here to watch you and are as excited as you are to play and everything that goes along with it. So I’m really looking forward to it and I hope it’s the first positive step towards getting this place full again and hopefully it’s not long until we have everyone back in because we’ve certainly missed them and football is not the same without fans, so I really hope we can have a full Anfield soon. But Sunday is a definite start and I look forward to welcoming in the lucky 2,000 into Anfield.

The injuries in the backline have seen a lot of youngsters come in and get opportunities, like Neco Williams…

Neco is a great lad and a great player. With Trent’s injury and things like that, he has been thrown in and Neco and all the young lads have stepped up and need to step up further. We are pushing Neco, we are pushing Curtis and we are pushing Nat, Rhys and all of them. The young lads – it’s been clear – we will be needing them this season. It’s clear that with the injuries that we’ve got and the hectic schedule we’ve got, the whole squad is going to be needed. They are a big part of the squad. Neco, Curtis, Rhys, Nat, we are trying to push them all the way and get them to improve every day and they are making huge strides. 

I think Neco has come in for unfair criticism but, look, unfortunately that is the nature of the beast. It’s going to happen when you do make one mistake or whatever it is. But Neco is a confident lad and the way he has played for Wales in the previous international breaks has been unbelievable and he shows promise and he shows glimpses of it. It’s just about him getting that complete performance. I believe it’s coming and I believe it’s close because he’s full of quality and he’s full of passion. You can see that the way he flies into tackles and stuff. He’s a great player with great quality and through Trent’s injury he’s got quite a few opportunities and he’s done well. He knows he can do better and that’s why we will try to push him and he’ll try to push himself. All the young lads are the same. They’ve got a lot of improvements to make but where they are at the moment is a real good place and that’s why all of them are heavily involved in our squad right now.