Liverpool are through to the UEFA Champions League Final in Kyiv on 26 May 2018. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster of a ride and the final promises to be a night to remember when the Mighty Reds face the reigning champions, Real Madrid. Jordan Henderson and James Milner were interviewed by BT Sports after a dramatic end to their second leg tie away at A.S Roma and this is what they had to say.
We never do it the easy way, unfortunately! [It’s an] amazing, an amazing effort. We knew it’d be tough coming here but I thought first half we did well, scored some good goals, could’ve been a little bit more clinical on the counter-attack, but overall I thought we handled the situation well apart from maybe the last 10 minutes of the second half, conceding the late goals like we did. So we need to stop that, but overall we’ve just got to be delighted we’re in the final.
We knew it was important to score and to get one early on was brilliant. We were a little bit unlucky with their first goal, I think it’s a clearance that’s hit Millie’s head and gone in, so we’re a little bit unfortunate there. But overall, first leg and second leg, I think we’ve got to be happy with what we’ve done. Of course we can be much better in this leg, but overall we’re just pleased to get through to the final. We’ve been entertaining I think but now we’ve got to look forward. We’ve got another important game at the weekend against Chelsea, and then the last home game of the season against Brighton and then obviously Madrid in the final, which of course won’t be easy, they’re a fantastic team, but we can go there with confidence and just give it everything.
I don’t know what to say after that! We know how to make it interesting, don’t we?! I think we were pretty in control first half. Second half they put the pressure on us, we know they’re a good team, but that’s what it’s all about, these scenes here.
Again that’s something that we need to do better, we know that, see out games and stuff like that. The penalty was a bit harsh I thought, the first goal’s a bit ridiculous as well - obviously we could do that 1000 times and it’s not going to happen again, but all in all I thought we played well.
We should control the game better, I think a few of the breakaways at times we maybe had shots too early when we had them stretched and we could’ve maybe made that extra pass. But to get to a Champions League final, no one said it was easy and we managed to do that and beat some very good teams along the way. We’ve scored a lot of goals, that’s the first defeat [in the Champions League this season] as well obviously, and against the teams we’ve played that’s pleasing. It’s a disappointment [to lose on the night] but it was all about getting the job done and we managed to do that, no matter how difficult we made it, and we’re through to the final now. We’ve got to enjoy this but not for too long unfortunately because we’ve got another big game at the weekend.
Klopp’s post match press conference aligned with the comments made by his vice-captain and captain and he reiterated the importance of the Premier League as well as the fact that the Reds deserved to be in the final but would not be complacent about their PL position. He was asked what it meant to be in the final, whether the Reds had outdone themselves and about the remaining weeks of the season, which officially ends on May 13.
Look, we were in the League Cup final and we didn’t win it. People don’t tell me in the street since then ‘thank you for bringing us to the final’. We were in the Europa League final. I didn’t see any trophies after these games. They don’t hang silver medals at Melwood. That’s the pity, that’s the game. So there’s still a job to do but that’s how it is. Going to a final is really nice – I did it a few times – but winning it is even nicer. We will be ready. You cannot be more experienced in the competition than Real Madrid. I think pretty much 80 per cent of the team played all these finals – four times in the last five years – and they are still together. So if we talk about experience, they are experienced and we are not. But we will be really on fire, you can imagine. We are looking forward to it but before that we have to play two more Champions League semi-finals in the Premier League. That is first of all the job to do. Then we’ll have two weeks to prepare the final and we will use that time.
I was part of the Champions League a few times. You cannot plan a Champions League final if you are not Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. They are constantly in the last four; going there is not normal for them but much more normal than it is for us. We had to play in the qualifiers, we played Hoffenheim. But I knew that the competition and the football in the competition would suit us. It is not too bad for us, for sure. The boys still had to do the job. It was so difficult so far. We had two games against Hoffenheim; then we played a good group stage but we had to win the final game against [Spartak] Moscow. We won it quite impressively. Then we had Porto – 5-0, it was strange. Then Manchester City, which was difficult. Then Roma; again, my biggest compliment to Roma and [Eusebio] Di Francesco: what a job. They are a really good football team, really good football. A lot of people are talking about the English league being the best in the world and that’s probably right, but what teams in Italian football at the moment. Juventus had Real Madrid at the edge and Roma had us at the edge. It is a really big compliment.
Do we have the widest squad in world football at the moment? No. We don’t have it, so it’s quite a difficult moment. That this group went to the final is exceptional. We had all the knocks over the season, all the knocks with injuries in the wrong moments and stuff like that. Really difficult. And we still have to carry on, so it’s not that we can say now we are already qualified for the Champions League next year. Chelsea at the weekend is an unbelievably important game for us. I give the boys tonight; it’s cool, they don’t drink alcohol, but they will stay a little bit longer awake and then we recover tomorrow. Then we go to Chelsea and, again, they will have the knife between the teeth and will fight for everything. That’s life. We have one week for the Brighton game, which is again very, very important probably. We cannot go to the Champions League final with nice football, constantly being better than the other team. That’s not possible and you have to suffer from time to time. That’s how it is and no problem with that. Yes, we had these moments but you saw the game – in all the other moments, even in the second half, because we didn’t finish the game they could keep on going like they did. If we’d have scored a third one, which was possible, then the game was already decided, but we didn’t. That’s our fault – but is there anything to criticise? No. These boys are constantly over their limit. Constantly. I am really proud of that. We have to do it three more times and then we can be part of the Champions League again next season. We can be a good opponent in the final, that’s first of all what you have to be and then we will see what happens then.
Yes, Jürgen, we certainly will see what happens then and we definitely, cannot wait...