Jürgen Klopp has finally gotten his Liverpool FC side into a good run of form. Not coincidentally, it has come when the team has found a settled center back pairing of actual defenders, allowing their world class holding midfielder to push back into midfield. It has also coincided with Diogo Jota returning from injury, fueling an increase in offensive output after a paltry few months of finishing while he was injured.
The run of form comes at a very good time. Liverpool are somehow still in a tight race for the top 4 in the Premier League. They are also about to kick off their Champions League quarterfinal tie with Real Madrid. Speaking to reporters ahead of the first leg game tomorrow, Klopp feels his team is ready for the challenge.
Actually, our team is built for these kind of games. We face a football-playing side, which is very helpful for football in general but for our kind of defending as well, and that’s why we have a chance, absolutely. I heard outside already everybody says Real Madrid is favorite – great, no problem at all with that. They are used to the role and we have no problem with the role of the challenger. How I said, we want to give it a proper try.
Klopp was also asked about whether his team’s poor form in the Premiere League is putting pressure on them to put on a performance in the Champions League. As usual, the German manager had a well measured response, putting the focus more on the team showing their gumption than getting putting on a show.
I’m not so determined to show the world how good we are, I want to show our fans that we are still fighting, to be honest. That’s much more important to me. If people think because we don’t play a good situation I am a worse manager, I don’t like that but I don’t care, to be honest. It’s like this. We had some problems; if you are with us, you know about the problems and all these kind of things. So it’s not about that. It’s about we want to get whatever is possible out of this season. So we said it a lot of times – until a specific moment in the season you create a basis and then there is the finishing part of the season. And we are in that. We have created reasonably better basis than we have this season. But we are still in a fight, all of a sudden for the Champions League spots as well again.
I gave an interview, I think, after the Leipzig game, to Lothar Matthaus in Germany and I honestly thought it doesn’t look really likely that there is any chance for us to qualify through the league for the Champions League – and all of a sudden we are two or three points behind. So of course that’s possible with the number of games we have, even when have a really tough program. So things are really in the flow and we have to keep contact with that; we have to chase now the team ahead of us, and we have to chase Real Madrid tomorrow. They are in a very good moment, a really good moment. Yes, Ramos injured and stuff like this, Carvajal not there, all these kind of things. But a really good team, a really good moment, very experienced – if somebody knows how to win the Champions League, Real Madrid obviously. And we are the opponent and I think we should give it a proper try.
Well there you have it. Klopp feels his team is ready for this, and sees it as a way to show just how much fight they have left in them during a fairly dismal season. As a wise man once said, never get involved in a land war in Asia, never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, and never bet against Jürgen Klopp in a two-legged European tie!