When the Europa League quarter-finals were drawn, most Liverpool fans will have hoped to avoid the two big threats remaining in the competition: defending champions Sevilla, and Bundesliga contenders Borussia Dortmund. Somewhat inevitably, or at least so it seemed, they didn’t, drawing manager Jürgen Klopp’s former side.
As a result, they will travel to Germany next Thursday in the headline tie of the quarter-finals, and especially in Germany, the excitement is already building for that match. So much so, in fact, that Liverpool hosted a special, German-language press conference today, where a number of visiting reporters quizzed Klopp on his experience at Liverpool so far and his expectations for next week.
"Dortmund plays bold football, and I have a lot of respect for them," said the Liverpool manager. "But on a good day—which we will certainly need to have—if we implement our plan well we have a chance and can play good football against them. Especially against the good teams, you have seen we have already developed a fairly good plan."
Dortmund will be tough, but it’s a valid point that under Klopp, Liverpool have looked best when the games have been tough. Facing off against the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, and Manchester United has often brought out the best in a Liverpool side that perhaps lacks the quality to deliver week in and week out and that can suffer let-offs against weaker opposition.
That doesn’t mean the team or fans can go into next Thursday expecting a positive result, but there is evidence at least that this Liverpool side can go toe-to-toe with top opposition—and come out on top. Dortmund, though, aren’t the only concern for Klopp this week as he begins to welcome back the Liverpool players who were off on international duty.
Despite that many in Germany are already focusing on next Thursday’s Europa League tie, Klopp and Liverpool first have to worry about a match against Tottenham this Saturday. And while Liverpool will be looking to take all three points, Klopp seemed to hint that between the two games, at this stage the Europa League and a chance at silverware is his priority.
"The first thing you learn when you do come to England is you know nothing about English football," added Klopp when asked how he would prioritise the next two games. "The schedule is unbelievable, and winning the Premier League is more important than anything, so sometimes you have to play other players or leave players out when there are so many games.
"Tottenham is the only team that can still catch Leicester, so we have to respect their quality. But unfortunately we no longer have the chance to be champion, so we won’t spare anyone."