Jürgen Klopp on Real Madrid rematch, comebacks and creating belief LFC

 


Liverpool will create an atmosphere of belief as they prepare for the challenge of overturning a 3-1 deficit against Real Madrid, explained Jürgen Klopp.

The Reds host the Spanish side at Anfield on Wednesday night with a comeback required if they are to advance into the Champions League semi-finals.

Ahead of the second leg, Klopp outlined the key objectives his team must achieve in the return clash, both in terms of mood before kick-off and performance during the tie.

Read a transcript of the manager’s pre-match press conference below…

On whether Liverpool have ‘nothing to lose and everything to gain’ because they trail by two goals…

When you’re 3-1 down it looks like you are already out, that means you have not a lot to lose, let me say it like this. We will give it a try, I think that’s the job we have to do and that’s exactly how we will go for it, if you want. It’s a result of the performances on the night – they were better than us, we were not as good as we could have been or should have been. But it’s the first half of the [tie].

On how the Reds can create their own atmosphere at Anfield in the absence of fans…

We have to, we have to. It’s not the first interview I had today and everybody is [talking] about our comebacks in the past and it was with supporters and stuff like this. That’s true. But [there are] a lot of problems we will face before we have even a chance to win that game – and that’s actually the idea, that we try to win the football game tomorrow night – and it’s just one extra problem, no supporters in the stadium. The result [in the first leg] is a problem, the quality of the opponent is a problem and then obviously that the stadium is empty is a problem as well.

On Trent Alexander-Arnold ‘raising his game’ at the weekend…

Yes, [that’s] what you always expect from each player. It’s a little bit of a problem for me to answer your question because it always looks like he didn’t play well before. We didn’t play a brilliant season, we know that, so far. Trent had a difficult start and then from a specific moment played a really good season. Did he play exactly as good as he could have played or played in the past? I don’t even know 100 per cent. But then it started this discussion [that] he ‘raises his game’. He had assists for us before that. Yes, it’s a special situation, he reacted really well and that’s important. But it’s not that he was in a dark place and had to lift himself out of that, he just didn’t get selected for England, that was all.

On whether there’s anything he can use from the 2019 comeback against Barcelona on Wednesday night…

Oh, much more than the Barcelona game – whether it’s useful we will see – we played years ago, I don’t even know when it was, with Dortmund against Madrid. We lost in Madrid 3-0, we played not good, Madrid were clearly better that night. German journalists asked me afterwards if it’s gone already and I had to say, ‘Probably, but what should we do? We have to play the second leg as well.’ That was the situation. After 37 minutes in the next game we were 2-0 up. It stayed as 2-0, by the way, so we didn’t go through. But football is football, we all know that and there are a lot of things possible.

I understand that we speak now about the result, but for me much more important is the performance. We have to play like ourselves, we have to play as good as we can, we have to try to win that game – and just that. Then we will see where the result leads us to. Winning 1-0 would mean whenever we score that goal we have a minute, five minutes or 10 minutes of time to try to get the second goal. All these kind of things. For that, and it’s really important with the quality Madrid has, you have to defend on your absolute highest level, which we didn’t do the other night. That’s why this is as important as the other things. It’s about winning football games always and that’s the target for tomorrow night. If that will end up in a comeback, I have no idea but I never had before. It’s just we have to bring ourselves in the mood that we start believing in that again. If that happens, if we can see that it’s possible until tomorrow night then we have a chance. But it’s still incredibly difficult.

On the importance of a clean sheet…

Very important. But that’s actually not too different to other games. You never want to concede goals and if you are really focused, that’s what we have to do. We cannot ignore defending in this game, we’d get punished for sure. I have no idea if anybody in the world can deny Real Madrid from having any chances. They beat us a week ago. Yes, we were not good. But a few days later they beat Barcelona in a very important game as well. So they are obviously in a good moment. We have to deny that, we have to defend on our highest level and then we have to create as well. That’s it. It’s nothing different really but of course it feels always different. The game starts with 0-0 anyway, but if they would go 1-0 up or whatever in a normal game we would have to score two to win it or score one to get a point. The point wouldn’t help, 2-1 wouldn’t help. So that’s the situation. We have to be 100 per cent on our absolutely top level to have a chance to make it. But that’s possible that we are at our 100 per cent, so we should try it.

On Liverpool’s history of European comebacks and whether they can be motivation against Real…

We will see. The boys know that, some of the players were involved in these games. You cannot take it for granted, you never could and you never should. That’s it, pretty much. You don’t get a comeback because you had a comeback in the past. You only have a chance if you play really good football in the present. That’s what we have to do. The best situation would be if you don’t bring yourself in the situation where you need a comeback, but obviously that is not worth talking about now. The situation is clear. That’s why this competition is so interesting – because you have these rules, like the away goal counts different and all these kind of things. That makes it really exciting. We will see. We should not concede and if we then can create more than we had at Madrid, and that should be possible because we didn’t have a lot, then we will see what we get in the end. What I actually really mean [is] we cannot just take comebacks for granted, especially not without a crowd in the stadium. We have to create our own atmosphere again for this game – and we will do. I will not do that today or constantly go now for the boys and try to tell them whatever kind of stories. No, we have tomorrow a full day, one session in the morning – a light session – and then a full day to prepare us from an atmosphere point of view.

On what he’s preparing to face from Real tomorrow night…

First and foremost, I think Real Madrid didn’t win the competition that often with Zinedine Zidane because they are not experienced. They are really experienced. They have [had] an intense season, they have injuries, that’s clear. Everybody can see that and we have the same. We are on the same level, nobody has to use that for any kind of explanations, it’s just late in the season, a crazy year with a lot of games and all these kind of things, but the decisive part of the season is now and I am 100 per cent sure Real Madrid will be 100 per cent ready for this game. That’s what we prepare for, not what [Real] felt five minutes after the Barcelona game [at the weekend], which is a moment when you really feel each bone when it was that intense. They are in a good moment and that’s what we will prepare for.

On the key to getting the result Liverpool want…

To beat Real Madrid you have to defend Real Madrid on your absolute highest level because their offensive qualities are incredible and even then it’s really difficult. The first goal they scored is a good example for it; for most of the teams in the world, it was not even half a chance, but the pass from Toni Kroos and the first touch and the finish was absolutely incredible. So even when you defend them well and deny them a lot of things, these things are still possible. For the next two goals, our percentage of involvement was too high, definitely. So, we have to defend Real Madrid on a really high level and we have to create ourselves – and that’s what we will try. I cannot invent any new things just because we are 3-1 down, we will use the usual tools of football – or will try at least.

On showing ‘the real Liverpool’…

That’s the plan, that’s the plan. How I said, I have no problem with press conferences, but the only thing a press conference can be influential on is in a negative way, if I give some phrases, headlines or whatever for them. I don’t like that and we don’t need that. I am already completely in the mood for the game and that means whatever we want in this tie, we have to show tomorrow night on the pitch and not me here or Robbo later in the press conferences. It’s all about tomorrow night on the pitch, that’s it.

On the reasons for Liverpool’s performance in the first leg…

It’s a difference to watch Real Madrid and to play Real Madrid, I have to say, because the individual quality of the players is really high, if they want something desperately, which was the case that night. As I said, the first goal was a genius long ball in between two defenders, really difficult to defend and you are either in the right spot or not. It’s pure luck, you can defend it or not as it was in our case. The other two goals we just didn’t defend well enough; one goal it was obvious and the other is not about our ‘defensive problems’. If they have a throw-in around about 15 yards in front of our goal, they throw the ball there and there is no challenge until they finish the situation off, it makes absolutely no sense. It starts already with that, so we have to change that.

Why were we that night not in the shape [we wanted to be in], were we nervous? I don’t know. The quality was quite impressive in the game, to be honest, but again you only can stop them doing what they are good at by doing the stuff you are good in at a 100 per cent level. We didn’t do it that night, but if you do it then everything comes to level and then it is a much more interesting, exciting game and that’s the plan for tomorrow night. The plan for us is try to win the football game. Of course, when we drew Real Madrid, nobody thought, ‘Oh my god, they shouldn’t even try.’ When we are really good then we can beat Real Madrid, but we have to be really good for it – and that’s now the plan for tomorrow night, that we really try exactly that. Then if we can win the game, then we will see which result we have. If it is 4-3 it doesn’t help a lot but would still be a win. If it is a 2-1, it’s not enough but close enough to maybe score a third one. If it is a 2-0, it would be enough. I don’t know in the moment, but what we have to do is pretty clear. Everyone who saw us playing well knows what we have to do in these moments because it is exactly playing like our best selves.



On whether he was impressed by Vinicius Junior’s first-leg performance for Real…

I was impressed, not surprised. He is obviously an outstanding talent and everyone knew it before Real Madrid signed him, but since then he obviously became even better. That’s cool. Special plans? Yeah, that’s unfortunately the case, you saw one goal I think we could have defended and the other goal was just a great, great long ball and then a great first touch and great finish. So, yes, we try to avoid the passes in his direction, which is a big task. Impressed? Yes. Surprised? Not.

On Toni Kroos…

Oh, one of the biggest talents in German football for a long, long, long time. He is a great player since very early, he was really young. Pretty early signed for Bayern, got a loan for Leverkusen, came back to Bayern and played incredible stuff there. Made then kind of a brave move to Real Madrid and became there one of the most successful club footballers in the world. With Germany together, a world champion as well in 2014. Obviously quite a successful career so far and not really old; I’m not sure, Toni might be 29, something like that? So there’s still a lot to come. Quite a nice person as well, really relaxed fella. We don’t know each other really well but I appreciated him – or admired him – already for years because he is just a wonderful football player. His skills are obviously… it’s like, I’m not sure if you know Bernd Schuster – another German player who played quite successfully in Spain – he is a similar player but Toni is probably even more dynamic, quicker in all the things he’s doing. Maybe not a sprinter but quicker. A guy who is really difficult to defend because he can change the game from really deep areas and when he is higher up the pitch he still has the eye for a pass through the gap or for a proper finish from distance. So, yeah, nice package, to be honest.

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