Jürgen Klopp insisted that he would cling to the tiniest chance of Liverpool reaching the Champions League quarter-finals despite conceding that his team are a “complete outsider” as they bid to overturn a 5-2 deficit against the reigning champions Real Madrid.
After the Spanish champions’ record victory in the first leg at Anfield, Klopp had said it was over. But on the eve of the second, where he conceded that even a good performance would not be good enough, he insisted: “Three weeks later, there is a game to play and if there is even a 1% chance, I would like to give it a try.
“We are here to play an extremely strong opponent and to try to win the game and as difficult as it is – not likely – we are going to see where it leads us,” the Liverpool manager said. “We respect the competition and the opponent too much not to look forward to it. It’s not a great situation we are in. We’re not saying to Madrid: ‘Careful, we’re coming’. That’s not the situation. But we are here to play. To win we have to play extremely well.”
When it was put to the Liverpool manager that having to score three goals seems like a massive task, he shot back: “It is!” and said: “Yes, but if you get one …” To which he laughed and said: “Then it’s ‘only’ two!
“It’s difficult enough at this place already. This is one of the best teams in the world. You don’t expect to win. It’s not saying three goals is not a problem: of course it’s a problem. And if you get three, it’s only possible if you don’t concede.”
Even Carlo Ancelotti’s claim that mentally this was easier for Liverpool to prepare this game may not be the advantage it appears. “We have nothing to lose and that is better than when you have everything to lose,” Klopp said. “The only problem is that we can lose a football game, which is a really bad thing. And if you don’t play good football here, you don’t just lose, you get a proper knock.
“If I was on the other side of the table I would say the same: there is no chance for Liverpool. That means we are alone in a little belief. It’s difficult because we will probably not go through. But 100% think that we have no chance and if I’m the only one who thinks we have a little, I’m fine. We’re a complete outsider, 100%. It’s Real Madrid. They’re three goals up. That’s not what you want for Christmas. But it’s football and we’ll try to give it a go.”
Klopp also confirmed the midfielder Stefan Bajcetic is set to be out for a lengthy spell because of a stress problem with an adductor injury.