Despite the run of fantastic results that Liverpool have managed in the four games leading up to Tuesday’s Champions League match, questions will be asked about the easy way that the players capitulated a three-goal lead in only 45 minutes. It’s hard to get reverse-Istanbul’d, and seeing how quickly the whole game collapsed with the slightest bit of pressure from the Sevilla players will give many fans nightmares in the days leading up to the match against Chelsea.
While Klopp had lots of say about the team’s performance in the second half -- spoilers: none of it was great -- what he refused to do was blame their mentality and whether they can handle the pressure of those big games.
“No, you cannot make it like this,” Klopp said when asked that question.
“We showed already a fantastic mentality. We showed it against - the obvious one - Dortmund, we showed it in a lot of other games. Yes, it was not perfect tonight, that's true, but it is not a general problem.
In this atmosphere, yes, we need to get more and more experience. Could we have done better? 100 per cent. Do we think it's a mentality problem? 100 per cent not. It was a misjudgement.
We wanted to play like we played the first half but, of course, control the game a little bit. Why should we take a lot of risk? But then you become a little bit passive and that makes no sense, it doesn't work. Free-kick, penalty, we scored twice from a set piece in a fantastic first half but two goals came from a corner. It's football and until the final whistle, everything is possible. I knew that before - I don’t doubt the mentality of the boys.”
While Klopp’s defense of his players is admirable, and while the Dortmund example is relevant, a person need only point to the final of that tournament, also against Sevilla, when Liverpool again squandered a first-half lead and ended up losing the trophy.
Something disastrous happened on Tuesday, and unfortunately it felt all too familiar to Liverpool fans as it played out over 45 very long minutes. Whatever the reason, it needs to be figured out and dealt with, because I’d really love to see the Reds win another trophy at some point, and that won’t be possible if they can’t get themselves over the line when it matters most.