Klopp relives final ‘torture’ before Liverpool’s rematch with Real Madrid

  • Liverpool lost in last season’s Paris showpiece
  • Núñez could be available for last-16 first leg

Jürgen Klopp has said it was “proper torture” to relive last season’s Champions League final defeat by a Real Madrid team who will provide the ultimate test of Liverpool’s recent recovery at Anfield on Tuesday.

The Liverpool manager watched a replay of the 1-0 loss in Paris for the first time over the weekend in preparation for the last-16 first leg tie against Carlo Ancelotti’s holders. It was a painful analysis, admitted Klopp, with his team unable to find a way past Thibaut Courtois and Real unflappable as they ended Liverpool’s Champions League aspirations for the third time in five seasons.

Klopp, who could have Darwin Núñez available for the latest encounter with the 14-times European champions, said: “I didn’t watch it back until this weekend and the thing I realised immediately was now I know why I hadn’t. It was proper torture because we played a good game and could have won – and that’s the decisive word because we could but didn’t, because they scored and we didn’t.

“We saw how experienced Madrid is and how little they are fussed by the fact the other team has chances. They don’t lose confidence for one second.”

He added: “Generally, I don’t think you can make this team panic. But what held us back a little was the fact it was a final and we did not take enough risks in little moments. We were not adventurous enough, we were super-protected because of the counterattack threat – rightly so, as we saw with the goal.

“With an extra spark we could have made it happen but it is Real Madrid, we cannot play this game without respect. The white shirts and the badge on the shirt. They are a world-class team. Some of their players have won the competition five times and probably think they own the competition. They are probably right, but we still want to give it a try.”

Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Bajcetic; Salah, Gakpo, Núñez. 

Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Militão, Rüdiger, Alaba; Modric, Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinícius.

Klopp believes Liverpool are in a stronger position to reach the quarter-finals than they would have been a few weeks ago, with successive league wins over Newcastle and Everton resurrecting their top-four chances and restoring confidence. He accepts, however, that Real are the ultimate test of any recovery.

“Carlo is the most relaxed manager I met in my life, one of the best people you could meet, a fantastic, humble person, super-smart and his man-management is on a completely different level to anyone. I admire him a lot.

“With this world-class team, they brought in super-exciting young players. They struggle a little in the league, but they are always super-competitive and difficult to beat so this combination is a difficult one.

“You always work so hard to qualify for the Champions League so I really think you have to cherish these moments. That’s Liverpool-Real Madrid – we all dreamed of that, it will never change and it will be a special game. I expect Anfield to be on their toes, with the people really happy because they saw us in a better shape the last two games.”

Núñez injured a shoulder in Saturday’s win at Newcastle, but has not been ruled out. Klopp said: “There is a chance. We have to see how he can deal with the pain and after that make a decision.”


Andy Hunter

The GuardianTramp

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