Jürgen Klopp has been methodically turning Liverpool into a footballing force since his arrival on Merseyside in 2015. Slowly but surely the German manager has been molding the Reds into a fierce opponent. As the current Champions of Europe, Liverpool are perhaps under the most scrutiny in the tournament. And rival supporters would love nothing more than to see Klopp’s team drop out.
But even as times have been rough, Liverpool have kept getting results and moving forward this season. The determination and confidence with which Liverpool are playing with right now must be of some concern to plenty a manager out there. Andy Robertson believes the Reds are at the top of their game and are the club that no other team in Europe will hope to be drawn with in the Round of 16.
Looking back on Liverpool’s exploits in Europe over the last two seasons, Robertson draws strength from the progress his team have made and the maturity they possess.
“Maybe the first season when we went to the final (against Real Madrid), I don’t think we were really respected until maybe after the quarter-final when we went to Porto and washed them away. We did not get the respect we deserved,” says Robertson after the win over RB Salzburg.
“Now, we know we are respected in Europe. No one will want us but everyone who gets into the last 16 will fancy themselves. It is the toughest tournament. The teams you come up against are outstanding and will fancy themselves. Everyone does. Everyone is confident.
”Last year and the year before, we have been excellent in the knockout stages and we have controlled games but we know that now, we are the champions and everyone wants to beat us. That is what we have to deal with and hopefully we can deal with it well.
“We respect every opponent we play but we know the way we have done things in the last two years and nobody wants to play against us and that is clear - but it is up to us to keep proving that.
”We cannot rely on that and we need to keep proving why people don’t want to play against us but so far, we have done that. We will wait for the draw and see who we get in the last 16.”