Liverpool Football Club have booked themselves a ticket to their third Champions League final in five years. They got through the semi-final against Villarreal, despite a very, very shaky start to the return tie in Spain.
When the Reds slunk down the tunnel at halftime having allowed Villarreal to nullify their two-goal advantage, Reds’ fans were rightfully nervous about what the final 45 minutes had in store. Luckily, it turned out that concern was unnecessary, because a shakeup of the team for the second half spurred Liverpool to three goals and an easy command of the tie.
“It was massive, massive from the boys,” manager Jürgen Klopp said following the match. “Before the game I told the boys that I would like to read the headlines that ‘The mentality monsters were in town’ just because I wanted us from the first moment not like somebody that defends the result but goes for the three points or for the win. I couldn’t see that but the second half was like this… for me it was like this because you could see how impressed we were in the first half and then coming back like we came back in the second half was really special. “
Klopp praised all of his players, and refused to let Diogo Jota to scapegoated for the poor first half performance.
“[Diaz] had a massive impact,” he admitted. “But what I don’t like about this is the next story is around that Diogo Jota was our problem: he was not at all our problem, we just had to mix it up. We had 11 problems, if you want, in the first half.”
According to the manager, the situation was easily summed up: “First half all of a sudden we were not ourselves but second half we were ourselves and that’s why we won the game.”
Whatever magic it was, on May 28th, Liverpool will play their third cup final of the season and may be well on their way to making history when they do.