The road to a seventh Champions League trophy begins in earnest on Tuesday when Liverpool head to Madrid to take on Atletico in the away leg of the round of 16. With the Premier League firmly in hand, Klopp will focus plenty of attention on defending their title as Champions of Europe.
Atletico Madrid have not been an easy team to get past in European competition for the Reds, something that Klopp knows all too well. The boss is ready to come out swinging when his team takes the pitch, because it will take a special performance to come away with a result.
“Playing Atletico is one of the most difficult things in the life of a football player,” Klopp admitted. “[They are] really good organised, a result-machine, squeezing results pretty much out of each game if possible. Yes, people will tell me – and have told me already – this year it is not exactly like it was, it’s a transition period that’s normal, but still [they are] fighting with all they have, don’t [concede] a lot of chances and all that stuff. That is really difficult.”
If anyone knows that a team’s performance in their league is different than their performance in Europe, it’s Klopp.
He also made it a point to praise his team’s performances in away games in European fixtures, pointing to the games against Bayern and, yes, even Barcelona as proof of Liverpool’s dominance.
“Some of the best games we played were away games, actually,” Klopp continued.
“Bayern was one of the best games I have ever witnessed. The Barcelona game, we lost 3-0, but it was one of the best games I’ve witnessed. If we can get a result then we know Anfield is a proper threat and help. That’s the story so far; I have nothing bad to say about that situation, but it doesn’t mean it will be [like that] this time again.
“If there is a team where you have to, you have to, be at your absolute best in all departments it is Atletico. There are no presents tomorrow, absolutely no presents. If you work as hard as possible then you have a chance, but if we don’t do that then we don’t even have a chance. That’s exactly like it is.”
Liverpool’s only loss of the season, aside from when the academy kids fell to Aston Villa in the League Cup, was away to Napoli in the group stages of the competition. Klopp and his team will hope that the Estadio Metropolitano will bring more good memories on Tuesday when they play their for the first time since their Champions League final victory.