Against Inter Milan in the Champions League Round of 16, Liverpool returned to Anfield for the second leg with a two-goal lead. They were then given an unexpectedly tough test by an opponent with nothing to lose pushing hard to record a historic comeback.
Now they face Benfica in the second leg of the quarter-finals. Again they have a two-goal advantage thanks to a first leg victory on the road. Again their opponents will feel as though they have nothing to lose and will come to Anfield seeking a historic comeback.
“We had huge respect for Benfica before we travelled there to face them last week, but that has only increased following the first-leg,” noted manager Jürgen Klopp in his match notes. “Yes, the scoreline on the night was in our favour and we have an advantage.
“But anyone who watched the game and certainly those of us competing in it appreciate their quality and danger. There were periods where we had to show real resilience. They are brave and smart. They are well-organised. They have a proper goal threat.”
Klopp then went further, explicitly comparing the situation his players face tonight with the last round of the competition—and warning them to expect a battle, perhaps a harder one than in the last game, that will mean they need to raise their own game tonight.
“In some respects the messages within might be similar to when we faced Inter Milan at Anfield,” the Liverpool manager added. “As with tonight, we arrived into the game with a two-goal lead. As with tonight, we knew the contest was far from over.
“We knew all this ahead of the Inter Milan second leg and so it proved. It was such a battle to get through. But that’s how it should be. This is the best club competition in world sport. It’s ferociously hard in every game and we expect it to be exactly the same.”