The Reds have all spent the past week or so in various places of vacation, collecting their bones as Klopp says, before coming back to Liverpool and Melwood and training in preparation for the Champions League final on June 1st. Our opponent that day is well known to Liverpool, but this is the Champions League, and the final even, and so that familiarity should mean nothing going into it. Jurgen Klopp is planning to prepare just as he would for any other final and any other opponent - just because it’s Tottenham Hotspur doesn’t mean anything different.
“We know each other pretty well, and that’s it,” Klopp said recently to UEFA when speaking about the final and our southern neighbors.
“But nothing else apart from that. It’s a final and you have an opponent and you have to prepare for it, look at their strengths, look at their weaknesses, that’s what you have to do. So that makes it no different [from any other final].
“There are no easy games. In the Champions League there are no easy games, so why should the final be easy? Certainly not. So far we’ve always used our experience in these moments, during every moment in our season.
“That’s what we have to do. We have to play the football we stand for. We have to play LFC football. That’s the plan, and then it will still be difficult, but it was difficult in all the other games as well.
“We know that already, so why should we think too much about it? If we are really at our absolute top level then we are a difficult team to play against, but we know Tottenham are as well.”
Surely it’ll help that Liverpool have quite a head-start on Tottenham, having beaten them twice this year in the Premiere League (although that last time was particularly nerve-wracking and everyone would probably like to avoid it #nolategoalsplease). This is also a position we’ve been in before, our third European final in as many years. Sure the results haven’t been great those last two times around but Klopp is pretty confident this is our chance for glory.
“In Germany we have a saying: ‘All the best things come in threes’,” continued Klopp.
“At Mainz, I missed promotion twice and we got promoted in the third season. We hope that it will repeat itself for the Champions League. I think it’s quite cool, to be honest.
“It’s a fourth European final for me [including the 2016 Europa League], that’s cool. I have had good teams and the players have gone beyond their limits in order to qualify. Throughout the years, we’ve knocked out strong sides like Borussia Dortmund thanks to Anfield.
“Last season in the Champions League we knocked out a strong Manchester City thanks to Anfield. This year we knocked out Barcelona thanks to Anfield, and of course we beat Bayern. We know that we’ve managed to achieve all that together.
“Anfield is a crucial factor for us in Europe, but the boys have done a great job, we’ve played great football. The away game at Bayern Munich was the best away game my team have played at the European level. It is great to see that such a development is possible and that we can become even more dominant.
“So far, it’s been a great campaign for us.”
The great campaign has been led by playing this patented style of “LFC football” that Klopp has instilled in this club and it’s players. Anfield and the supporters had their roles to play, and they will still in the Estadio Metropolitano (should they be able to get there), but it’s the players that ultimately have to act on the skills and system that they know and play so well. A system Klopp has worked so hard to install. The system that got them to this point - against a familiar foe. And a system that will take them further next season, regardless of what happens in June (we have a Community Shield to play for now, after all).
“I think that the players knew after five days what my ideas were. It was clear that the players knew me and knew Dortmund,” Klopp added.
“This is why it was clear how we wanted to play, but we didn’t want to push everything that way right from the start, we wanted to utilise the qualities of the players and give them more confidence so they would have that belief that they are the right players for Liverpool.
“But of course you need time until you can see that on the pitch. I don’t know how much time it took, but it certainly took some time. In the first year we reached the Europa League final and the League Cup final, we lost them both, but it was a very strenuous season.
“We qualified for the Champions League for the second season, in our third year we reached the final of the Champions League, and in the fourth season here we are again in the Champions League final.
“The development of the players who were there helped us a lot; of course, the new signings helped us a lot as well. Alisson [Becker] and Virgil [van Dijk], for example, have had the biggest impact because they have played in almost all the games.
“But players such as Fabinho and [Xherdan] Shaqiri are very important parts of the team, too. But then again, they are not at the top of their game, but they’ve made important steps in their development. The journey is not over, not for anyone.
“This is why we feel like we are only at the start, and that there is still a lot to come.”
Truly, you have to stumble a couple times before you can really run, and it feels like Liverpool are just picking up the pace.