Liverpool will be expected to press high and play aggressively against Manchester United at Anfield tonight, especially backed by a crowd fired up for a marquee European match against a local rival. However, manager Jürgen Klopp is cautioning that they can’t head out thinking they can put the tie to bed in a matter of minutes.
"If we draw at home and win at Old Trafford then not winning the home game wouldn’t be too important," said the Liverpool manager. "I think the advantage of home and away in this special battle is not too big—you have to do a job in both legs. There won’t be a result in the first where you can be sure you are through before you play the second."
Liverpool will still be expected to play aggressively, of course, but it’s a fair reminder for both fans and players to not get so caught up in trying to attack United that Liverpool get caught out themselves. No matter how the game starts tonight at Anfield, the Reds have to approach the evening remembering that it’s the first half of an 180-minute game.
If they execute, it’s a chance to head into the second half with an advantage, but short of an unlikely hammering on par with Liverpool’s 4-0 demotion of Real Madrid in Europe seven years ago to the day, tonight is going to be about setting the stage and not about settling the tie. For Klopp, that means ensuring Liverpool stay solid at the back first.
"We have to defend disciplined, then we have to be creative," added Klopp. "Create chances and score goals if we can, but we have to get a result that gives us possibilities for the rematch. I don’t care too much if the first game is at home or there. I think they will both be open games, and when it is open you can win. That’s all I need to know."