A few weeks later and there’s a new biggest game of the season for Liverpool and the club’s new manager in his first year in charge. Manchester United. In Europe. For the first time ever and with a quarter-final appearance on the line.
"It’s a big game," was Klopp’s understated opening when asked about the importance of Thursday’s Europa League tie. "It’s the only thing that matters in this moment, but I hope it’s not the biggest game in my Liverpool career.
"Matches like this are the mother of all football games. The crowd will be involved, and we do it for them. We enjoy that relationship. The fans can create a better atmosphere than Man United in the first leg and be very decisive."
It may not be the Champions League, but against domestic rivals United and with only two rounds to go until the final, it feels easily as important as that competition would at this stage of the season would were the two clubs in it.
In fact, with another Round of 16 tie pitting Klopp’s former club, Borussia Dortmund, against high-flying Tottenham Hotspur, there’s a case to be made that this week all eyes will be focused on Europe’s second cup competition.
With Bayer Leverkusen, Lazio, Sevilla, and Fenerbahce still in the competition, too, there are plenty of intriguing potential match-ups for whichever side makes it through. This week and next, the Europa League gets its turn in the limelight.
"I know both Liverpool FC and Man United, they want to be a part of the Champions League always," Klopp added. "But this is an exciting tournament. We can see the finish line."