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Klopp Talk: “Lose the Right Games”

The boss hates losing, but appreciated the margin for error in the second leg tie against Inter Milan.

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Liverpool FC v FC Internazionale: Round Of Sixteen Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Liverpool FC progressed to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, after winning 2-1 on aggregate. A Lautaro Martinez wonder-strike won the second leg 1-0 for Inter Milan at Anfield, although they were unable to capitalise further, due to Alexis Sanchez getting himself sent off mere moments later.

It was a weird game... the officiating let the game get out of hand, whilst Liverpool had several quality chances and just couldn’t convert. All in all, it was an interesting tactical game across two legs. Liverpool were better, created five clear cut chances... yet inexplicably converted none of them. Inter, one of the better attacking teams in Europe according to the numbers, sacrificed a lot of their attacking thrust to battle the Reds in the middle of the park. All in all, probably a fair result. Jürgen Klopp had thoughts about the two legs with a quality opponent after the game:

Pete Krawietz always says the art of football is to lose the right games. I still hate it but if there was any kind of game we could have afforded to lose, it was tonight because the main target obviously of this competition is to get through. But it’s not that I’m here like over the moon. I’m really happy that we went through because obviously when we saw the draw in the first place it was like, ‘OK, that’s a tough one.’ So we went through and I think over the two legs we deserved it. That’s fine. That we had some problems in the game tonight was [for] different reasons, one is the quality of the opponent – they are a really good football team. And their set-up – we know that in the league a little bit from Leeds under Bielsa – just with much more quality and that makes it really tricky to play against them. But we still had our chances and didn’t score.

When I think about the game, I didn’t like our counter-press, I don’t think we won any kind of ball back in the first 20 minutes. You have to be kind of expansive when you open up, when you are in possession, but when you lose the ball – and we lost the ball obviously in strange moments – then you have to chase the situation. And that was not exactly how I wanted it. But in the end, we have to respect the quality of the opponent. We do that. How I said, it’s a big if – we didn’t score – but if we would have used our chances from set-pieces, from other situations, it was then a bit slapstick how we missed the chances in the end, we still could have won the game. That’s the only thing I’m interested in, that it’s fair that we are through, against a really strong opponent. Now let’s carry on.

He was asked if there was anything about the performance that concerned him:

Parts, not everything. So, the first 20 minutes I didn’t like our counter-press too much and that is something that is nothing to do with the opponent, that is only about us. The goal we conceded, we shouldn’t have conceded, even when the finish was really brilliant, but we could have done [things] different before. It is not that I’m the type of guy who now puts the finger in it and tells the boys that it was completely out of range or whatever. Things like this can happen, so again, you have to make sure you know about it and then you don’t do it again – or you just do it better next time.

As I said, we could have played better, not too much better, to be honest, because the opponent is just really good. It is not that I think we should have dominated them for whatever or however. It is really difficult, but we all know if the first header goes in and all these kind of things – I know it’s a big if – but if we use one or two chances, the game is a completely different story. Because we didn’t use them, Inter stayed in the game and that they could score the goal then it was more exciting than we wanted, not for too long because of the red card and then we could control it completely. I think we are deserved in the quarter-final and that’s actually all I’m interested in.

At the end of the day, Liverpool FC are through to the quarter-finals and that’s all that matters. Liverpool can ill-afford a bad result at this stage of the season, but if it had to happen, tonight wasn’t a bad time to get that out of the way. The Reds move forward.

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