Klopp on familiar ground as Liverpool face Bayern test

No surprises for Klopp but his Liverpool team face unfamiliar situation

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool joins teammates during a training session. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool joins teammates during a training session. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

 

Champions League last-16 second leg: Bayern Munich (0) Liverpool (0)

Kick off: 8pm. Venue: Allianz Arena. On TV: Virgin Media Sport and BT Sport 2.

Munich – the city or its football clubs – holds no secrets from Jürgen Klopp, but Bayern represent unfamiliar Champions League territory for his Liverpool team. Last season every second leg was about preserving a comfortable advantage en route to Kiev. Tonight is about finding a victory of any description to preserve hope of a third European final under their manager from the Black Forest and “prove our value in Europe again”.

The change in circumstances and approach was discussed at a team meeting before Liverpool flew out for a last-16 tie far removed from last season’s return fixtures against Porto (5-0 up from the first leg), Manchester City (3-0) and Roma (5-2). “We have spoken about it with the boys already,” said Klopp, who as a manager has faced Bayern 31 times, more than any other opponent, and experienced only one goalless draw in that time, at Anfield three weeks ago.

“The only thing we can really use from last year is our experience. Usually the game is not decided after the first game. That is what we felt and experienced [last year] and now we have to know that. We are not like kids thinking if we do not win it in the first leg we have no chance. We have a chance and that is all we need. We are not out or through but we are in it. That is what we have to use.”

Gruelling experience

City and Roma demonstrated that progress at this stage of the Champions League can be a gruelling experience, even with a healthy first-leg lead. History also offers a lesson to Liverpool, who overcame Bayern 1-1 on away goals in the 1981 semi-final following a goalless draw.

Klopp said: “The better the teams become, and if you have a big advantage, then yes, that helps, but a small advantage like 1-0 or 2-0 at home is nothing, so it doesn’t make a massive difference that we didn’t score at home. For that it really helps that you are more experienced.

“We have only one year together in the Champions League but we have it, and we have another year together in the Europa League. That means so far we were pretty successful. That is all we need to be confident, but confidence alone is nothing. You have to be really strong on the night. I like this situation. There is no real pressure. I only see it as an opportunity. Win it or go out. Everyone knows you can go out against Bayern, and no one will say: ‘How could that happen?’ That’s how we see it. We wanted and we still want to prove our value in Europe again.”

Away day woes

Klopp has never lost a two-leg European tie as Liverpool manager but his team have lost their past five Champions League away games, last season’s final included. He insists there is no recurring problem with away performances, although the defeats at Napoli and Red Star Belgrade rank among the poorest of the campaign. “I do not think about it; all the games were completely different,” he said.

Jürgen Klopp: ‘We are not like kids thinking if we do not win it in the first leg we have no chance.’ Photograph: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Jürgen Klopp: ‘We are not like kids thinking if we do not win it in the first leg we have no chance.’ Photograph: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Roles have reversed since Bayern secured the draw at Anfield, which satisfied their manager, Niko Kovac. Bayern went top of the Bundesliga on goal difference at the weekend, whereas Liverpool are second in the Premier League.

Klopp knows from painful experience how adept Bayern are at getting the job done. “You have seen how it can change in three weeks,” he said. “There was a little bit of criticism around them not playing free-flowing football and second in the league, which for Bayern is a deep crisis. It was not surprising they played like this. It’s normal, they adapted. Bayern is famous for going for results they think are good for them. Usually they try more to win than they did at Anfield, but on the night they thought 0-0 was the perfect result. Now we have to show it is not like this. We have to score if we want to go through; they have to score if they want to go through. This will change the game a little bit but not too much, especially at the beginning.”

International outcasts

Klopp believes Joachim Löw’s decision to call time on the international careers of Bayern’s Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng and Thomas Müller will fuel their desire, although Müller is suspended along with right-back Joshua Kimmich. Klopp believes Germany’s manager has erred in his treatment of the World Cup winners.

He said: “I was never in contention for the national team but if something like this happened to you when you are young, fit and healthy, then I think I would try to show it was a mistake. I know all three would love to play for Germany. I don’t know the reasons 100 per cent, but I would say is it is difficult to take the opportunity away for a player to qualify for a national team. A centre-half at 30 years is nothing. Age cannot really be a reason. If you are a player and you don’t retire by yourself, there should still be an opportunity to qualify for the national team.” – Guardian

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