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Saturday 21 September 2019

Unfinished business

Klopp wants Pool to go one step further

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants to go one better in Europe this season
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants to go one better in Europe this season

Manager Jurgen Klopp feels Liverpool have unfinished business with the Champions League after the manner of their 2018 final defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev.

Just under 12 months ago his side were well in the game in Kiev at 1-1 despite losing Mohamed Salah, who was in the form of his life with 44 goals that season, early in the first half.

However, a brilliant overhead kick by Gareth Bale and the second of two errors by goalkeeper Loris Karius gave Madrid a 3-1 win. Klopp said that provided Liverpool part of the motivation for their run to a second successive final, achieved after brilliantly turning around a 3-0 deficit in Barcelona to win 4-3 on aggregate in one of the great nights at Anfield.

Not possible

"Last year we really felt we have to go back: We have to go back, we cannot let it stand like this, that's not possible," said the Reds boss.

"Now we get another chance and we will go for that, of course. I'm not sure if it will happen again because it's so special."

Klopp said he admitted to his players beforehand he thought the task would be beyond most teams.

However, he said he had faith they, with the resilience they have shown this season in matching Manchester City almost point-for-point in the Premier League title race, could achieve something few others could. And he was right.

"How can you be sure before a game? I said to the boys: 'I think it's impossible but because it's you we have a chance.' And we believed in this chance," he added.

"We didn't compare it with Istanbul (Liverpool's comeback from 3-0 down at half-ti me to beat AC Milan in the 2005 final) or whatever.

"We said from the beginning we want to create our own history - not because we are not happy about having the history of the club, no. Because we need new chapters obviously. And the boys did it already, that's unbelievable."

Klopp also paid tribute to the part the crowd played in what will go down as probably the most famous European night at Anfield.

"We know this club is the mix of atmosphere, emotion, desire and football quality. Cut off one and it doesn't work - we know that," he added. "If I have to describe this club then it's a big heart and (last night) it was pounding like crazy.

"You could hear it and probably feel it all over the world. I'm so happy we could give the people this experience and I'm really happy about having another chance to get things right from our point of view."

Klopp has guided Liverpool to a fourth final, three of which have been in Europe, including two in the Champions League, in three and a half years at the club.

He has yet to win one, while his career record is not much better losing the last six of the seven he has reached with the Reds and Borussia Dortmund.

However, he insists the progress which is being made is significant, a fact not lost on the players.

"I know what people say about me and losing finals, that's absolutely right and OK and everything," he said.

"But it's the fourth final in that time as well we are in, that's pretty special already.

"This club touches you like crazy, it's like you feel much more than others in these moments. It's really great, I love it."

Two-goal hero Divock Origi has played a pivotal, if limited, role in Liverpool's season and, after the drama of Tuesday night, he is not ruling out one more twist in the Premier League title race.

The Belgium striker has scored just six goals this season, but four of them have been vital: December's 96th-minute Merseyside derby decider, the 86th-minute winner at Newcastle on Saturday and two in the 4-0 demolition of Barca to help book a second successive final appearance.

Liverpool now head into Sunday's Premier League season finale hoping Brighton can do them a favour by taking points off Manchester City to pave the way for Klopp's side to snatch at home to Wolves.

Hardly anyone will give 17th-placed Brighton a chance against Pep Guardiola's leaders, who are one point ahead of Liverpool, but then very few thought such a turnaround was possible against Barcelona.

"I think we are in a good moment, but we have to stay focused," said Origi, who was only in the team on Tuesday night because of injury to Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

"It is not finished yet. We are qualified for the final, but now we have another game this weekend against Wolves.

"It is going to be very difficult (to win the title), but anything can happen.

"We just have to enjoy it like we did against Barcelona, there's nothing more we can do, and at the end of the day focus on being the best we can."

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