While visions of European finals are dancing in our heads, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is focusing on the team's next challenge: facing Watford on Sunday afternoon. The last time these two teams met at Vicarage Road was a humiliating affair for the Reds. Liverpool lost 3-0 in one of the worst performances by this team in the Klopp-era.
Granted, this performance came right as they were entering the festive period, when the injury list was multiplying as quickly as the fixture list was lengthening. Two, and sometimes even three, times a week, Klopp was expected to put together competitive sides from a first team that was decimated by injuries.
Now Watford need to come to Anfield on Sunday -- a difficult task for any team -- and Klopp wants a better performance.
In an interview after the Villarreal match, Klopp said:
The Europa League was special because of the knockout tournament - there are no draws usually allowed so you need to come through and you need to play your best. I saw it always that we tried to in the Premier League, not at Swansea or not at Watford, I didn't forget these games. For me, the game on Sunday is quite important because maybe it is possible to play one time against a team under our usual level, but it's not allowed to do it twice. So we have to try together that we can show a better face against Watford.
Though Klopp is likely to field a heavily-rotated side against Watford on Sunday, it's clear that his expectations are high for whatever set of players he chooses to call on.
Regarding the team's development since he joined the club in October, and the importance of bad games like the one Liverpool suffered against Watford, Klopp went on to say:
I'm really pleased for the boys because it is important to know that work helps, but it is better to see that it's really true - and these boys have seen that it's really true. The work together and what we did together and how their attitude and how it helps to develop. I'm really pleased for them because it's deserved. Each good game is deserved, each not so good game is for development too - you don't want to have it, but if you can use it with the right information then it can really help. That's what we try to do all time and that's what the boys are ready for. They want to hear what was good, what was not that good and they tried to change and that's the best thing when you work together.
With any luck, the players learned from their mistakes against Watford, and will show the same desire to keep pushing on and win, despite the fact that the season is winding down and there's no hope of a top four finish.