Klopp says second Champions League berth would be ‘massive’ progress

Liverpool at Chelsea needing one point to secure top-four finish

Jürgen Klopp on Wednesday after Liverpool defeated Roma 7-6 on aggregate in the Champions League in Rome. Photograph: Getty Images

Jürgen Klopp on Wednesday after Liverpool defeated Roma 7-6 on aggregate in the Champions League in Rome. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Jürgen Klopp believes if Liverpool can secure a Champions League berth for a second successive season it would show “massive” progress.

Back from their qualification in Rome for the Champions League final, Liverpool are at Chelsea on Sunday needing a point to secure a top-four finish.

Asked what it would mean to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition for a second year running for the first time since 2009, Klopp said: “It would be massive. It was actually the main target we had at the start of the season. You want to be champions, but it was clear after a few months that would not be possible.

“The target is qualifying for the Champions League. That would be a big success. With the group we’ve got, with how we came to the final and playing with the biggest intensity, being ready again, then the injuries we had, it would be a massive success.

“It’s exactly what we want. You cannot plan for a Champions League final obviously. Nobody thought about that at the start of the season. Of course we wanted to go as far as possible, but my main target was the top four. We worked hard for that, and now we want to bring it over the line.

Battle-hardened

“If we do it it would show everything, but it’s still an if. I don’t like the word ‘would’ too much. Let’s talk about it when it happens. We have to play football games to make that happen.”

Liverpool defeated Roma 7-6 on aggregate having eliminated Manchester City, the Premier League champions, 5-1 in the quarter-finals, and Klopp believes the European Cup and domestic campaigns have battle-hardened his players.

“They have developed a lot. It’s been a difficult season for a lot. Individually there have been struggles here and there, but we have really stayed strong in our relationship and remained on track. Without that we couldn’t be here. Third in the league and in the Champions League final. That wouldn’t be possible.

“It’s all about the players, and what they did so far is absolutely exceptional. The problem is that Sunday is also important.”

Positive way

Klopp welcomed how the challenge becomes tougher as Liverpool become more successful. “That’s absolutely true. It’s the situation we’re in. We brought ourselves into it in a positive way.

“In a negative way we brought ourselves into it by not winning the three league games against Everton, West Brom and Stoke. If we had won them, it would have been slightly different at least.”

Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Roma relating to the game at home to Liverpool. One of the charges concerns an insufficient number of turnstiles and gates being open for Liverpool’s 5,000 fans, some of whom had to wait hours to gain access to the Stadio Olimpico, where Sadio Mané and Georginio Wijnaldum scored for Klopp’s side.

Liverpool have been charged over their fans setting off fireworks.

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