The Mighty Reds were utterly ruthless in their dissection and subsequent decimation of Mohamed Salah’s former club on Tuesday night. It was yet another awesome night of football under the Anfield lights, and while Roma may have managed to claw their way back into it in the last quarter of the game, confidence is high that the club are on their way to their first Champions League final in 11 years. As always, Jürgen was interviewed by the international media before the match, as well as after the game and he made some excellent comments about our English players, what it’s like having Mohamed Salah in the team, AS Roma, the team approach, our Premier League opposition for Saturday and Liverpool’s 12th man, the supporters.
KLOPP’S PRE-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE
Monday, 23 April 2018
On the core of English players in the squad
They are here because they’re really good – not because they’re English or British. But if you have two players at the same level and one is English and the other is from somewhere else I always go for the English guy. They keep the mood good and for them it’s easy to feel the club’s history. But we have fantastic boys from all over the world and they love the club. Roberto Firmino has such a Liverpool heart. But the English guys lead the group. Tottenham and us we are pretty much the English national team and I like that.
On signing Mo Salah from Roma, his character whether on, or off the pitch
Mo did very well at Roma but they have Edin Dzeko who is an outstanding striker. So it was their tactics to sometimes play him wide. Now, a year older, he came to us full of confidence. He scored in the first game but missed two big chances. So, unbelievably, he could have scored much more [than the 41 goals Salah has this season]. We have learned about him step by step because he plays constantly in the same position. This season is more about interpretation [of his goalscoring talent] and because Bobby Firmino is a workhorse he really gives Mo space. I’ve had many talks with Mo and he sees what the others do for him.
I always meet the player before we sign. That’s when I decide because I have a good feeling for people. It was a fantastic talk. He’s open, smiling all the time. He has crazy curls but he’s a really nice boy. He also looked much more mature than it says on his passport. Twenty-four? I was: ‘Wow, really?’ We talked for three hours about everything from his family to my family and at the end we had a deal to work together. I like to remind players from time to time of that agreement. It’s working really well with Mo.
On the supporters expectations and the criticism of Dejan Lovren
I don’t exactly know about Dejan’s start at Liverpool but he made a few mistakes. People always have that in mind: ‘Oh, Lovren again!’ But I’m long in the business. I said to Dejan: ‘If somebody told me, come on, you have the chance, create a centre-half. We found a way to do it, genetically, bam, bam, bam.’ That’s him, strong, quick, both feet, can head like crazy, jumps through the roof. He’s all you need. Yes, a few things you can improve – his concentration. But these are human beings.
Other centre-halves make mistakes. Against City, Virgil van Dijk, an outstanding person and fantastic player, should have cleared the ball before they scored. Virgil knows that. But nobody spoke about it because we won. It doesn’t look like it but I’m really relaxed in judging these things. When I see talent, and I’m convinced, I am calm.
Roma are interesting. We’re expecting a mighty battle. They have Dzeko, they brought in the young Czech guy [Patrik] Schick and the young Turk [Cengiz Ünder]. Fantastic. [Daniele] De Rossi controls the midfield. Their defence is really experienced. Alisson is a fantastic goalkeeper. They beat Barcelona. They were first in their group, they didn’t concede a goal at home so far in the Champions League. There are many impressive things about them.
KLOPP’S POST-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE
Tuesday, 24 April 2018
On conceding 2 goals
Conceding two goals is not what you want, 100 per cent, but it’s not to change anymore and we can deal with that. That’s football. The boys played a brilliant game over a very long period, even the last few minutes when we conceded. Dejan played a world-class game, was outstandingly good, and this ball he misjudged – he was a little bit too early. That’s usually no problem if the full-back is in the right position. Trent, who played an outstanding game – a world-class game – is not in the right moment because Dejan won all the balls before. When he [Dzeko] is in a good position, he can score.
On Roma’s system and looking ahead to the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico
We thought they’d play the other system and when we saw the line-up, we knew about the system, of course. It’s not a system problem or whatever, we did really well. We prepared these passes in behind, we made these runs in behind, they are difficult to defend with our speed. It was not one second easy, it was a lot of work to do to come into these positions and the boys did the work. Now we have to work again in Rome. That’s no problem. There would have been work for us to do if we’d won 5-0 because Roma would have tried everything to strike back anyway. That’s not a big difference. And what I learned tonight is that we can win the second game as well, even when it will be different. Roma need to score goals against us. I said it a few times and it should not sound like a warning or whatever, but we are not Barcelona. They are one of the two or three best teams in the world and they won so many things in the last few years. We didn’t. So we will fight with all we have for that result again. It’s much better than I could have expected before the game, but now in the moment of course I feel the two goals we conceded still.
On the quality of Mohamed Salah
The first goal is just a genius strike; he scored already a few like this – that makes it even more special. It makes it clear it is no coincidence. The second goal was brilliant play. Bobby between the lines, turns, makes that run and passes the ball. He [Salah] is quite cool in the moment, that’s true. Then he makes the other two goals. If anybody wants to say that it was my mistake that we conceded two goals because I changed the striker, I have no problem with that. I cannot be only in one game. Actually, I thought we didn’t prepare our passes that well anymore. We shot them behind the line and Mo was running for all of them. It would not have helped us, to be honest, if he got any injury. That was the reason for that. That’s it. What a player.
If you think he’s the best in the world, write it or say it. He is in outstandingly good shape, in world-class shape, 100 per cent. That’s good. To be the best in the world you need to do that over a longer period, I think. There are a few others who are not too bad. He is a fantastic player and I’m really happy to have him.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s Premier League fixture and the importance of LFC’s 12th man
I’m already in the Stoke game, to be 100 per cent honest. I’m much more interested about the Stoke game in the moment than about the second leg against Roma. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the atmosphere tonight was absolutely outstanding, what you can expect if you are 5-0 in the lead. The people really enjoyed it. So I say to everybody who has a ticket: I expect exactly the same atmosphere on Saturday at 12.30 because we need it. That’s a massive game for us and we need to be ready for that. We’ll try everything to be ready for that.
We most certainly are ready to see the mighty Reds in action again. Be sure to check back for our Stoke match preview and get involved, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.