Klopp accepts empty Anfield is a 'problem' but challenges Liverpool to believe

By Sports Desk April 13, 2021

Liverpool's hopes of producing another famous European comeback at Anfield will be reduced due to the lack of fans, manager Jurgen Klopp has conceded.

The Reds lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie in the Spanish capital, leaving them with an arduous task to reach the last four.

Liverpool have only progressed twice in the previous 13 European knockout ties in which they lost the first leg by at least two goals, the most recent example coming two years ago when they stunned Barcelona with a 4-0 win at Anfield after losing the first game 3-0.

Anfield has become much less of a fortress this season while games have been played behind closed doors, with last weekend's 2-1 win over Aston Villa ending a six-game losing streak at home in the Premier League for the English champions.

Klopp accepts it is a blow to play without the backing of the crowd but he hopes his players still believe in their chances.

"When you're 3-1 down, it looks like you're already out," he said on Tuesday. "That means you have not a lot to lose, so we will give it a try. It's exactly how we'll go for it.

"It's a result of the performances of the night: they were better than us and we were not as good as we could have been, or should have been. But it's the first leg.

"It's just one extra problem: no supporters in the stadium. The result is a problem, the quality of the opponent is a problem, and obviously that the stadium is empty is a problem as well.

"It's always about winning football games and that is the target. If that will end up in a comeback, I have no idea.

"We have to be in a mood to start believing again and, if that happens and we can see that it's possible, then we have a chance, but it's still incredibly difficult."

Real Madrid have scored in each of their previous 23 Champions League knockout matches and an away goal would put them in a commanding position to progress.

While Klopp would love to keep a clean sheet, he is not certain any side can keep Madrid at bay if they are at their best.

"The clean sheet is very important but that's not too different to other games – you never want to concede goals," he said.

"I have no idea [if there is] anyone in the world who can deny Real Madrid having any chances.

"They beat us and then they beat Barcelona in a very important game so they are obviously in a good moment. We have to be 100 per cent on our top level if we want to make it.

"With the quality that Real Madrid has you have to defend on your absolutely highest level and that is what we didn't do in the first leg."

Vinicius Junior produced arguably his best performance for Madrid in the first leg, scoring either side of Marco Asensio's goal to give Zinedine Zidane's side men the advantage.

Klopp, who was not surprised by the Brazilian's display, wants his team to control the passing threat of Toni Kroos better in order to prevent a repeat.

"He is an outstanding talent, everybody knew it before Real Madrid signed him [from Flamengo in 2018]," he said.

"The one goal we could have defended but the other was just a great long ball and then a great first touch and finish.

"We have to try to avoid the passes in his direction, which is a big task. [I was] impressed yes, surprised no."

Related items

  • Real Madrid midfielder Kroos in isolation after close contact with positive COVID-19 case Real Madrid midfielder Kroos in isolation after close contact with positive COVID-19 case

    Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has been placed in isolation after being in contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.

    All tests conducted on Kroos up until this point have come back negative but he is now at home as per COVID-19 protocols.

    Madrid are playing away against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in their penultimate LaLiga game of the season.

    They are locked in a thrilling title race with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, as their city rivals lead the standings by two points with only two matches to go.

    "Real Madrid reports that our player Toni Kroos is currently in isolation after being in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, although all tests carried out on the player have come back negative," read a statement from the club on Friday.

    It will be hoped that Kroos' situation does not evolve as Federico Valverde's did last month.

    Valverde initially had to isolate due to being a close contact before producing a positive test five days later which then ruled him out of a key Champions League match with Chelsea.

    Kroos has been a key figure for Madrid this season, featuring in 28 of their league matches.

    After a gruelling schedule, he was rested by Zinedine Zidane last time out against Granada ahead of the testing trip to San Mames.

  • Klopp 'completely relaxed' over Mane handshake snub Klopp 'completely relaxed' over Mane handshake snub

    Jurgen Klopp will talk to Sadio Mane about his post-match handshake snub at Old Trafford but the Liverpool boss says the incident is being blown out of proportion.

    Mane was named among the substitutes for the Reds' clash with fierce rivals Manchester United on Thursday and replaced Diogo Jota in the second half of a 4-2 Premier League win.

    The Senegal forward was clearly not impressed that he had been dropped to the bench, heading for the tunnel with his back to Klopp when the Liverpool boss went for a handshake on the pitch at full-time.

    Klopp revealed that he had not explained to the former Southampton man why he was not in the starting line-up prior to the match.

    The German reiterated on Friday that he would speak to Mane but did not take the snub personally.

    He said in a press conference ahead of Sunday's trip to West Brom: "I cannot make a bigger story of it as it is.

    "Football is an emotional game and everybody expects us to control our emotions always. It doesn't work out always, that's the case. It happened to me as a player, it happened to other players when I was their coach.

    "So far we've had no real chance to talk about it, but we will and everything will be fine. Do we want these things to happen? No, but it's not the first time in my life and I'm afraid to say it probably will not be the last time, so that's it."

    Klopp added: "If somebody shows me respect five million times and one time not, what is more important?

    "The world is in difficult situation where you make this one time bigger than necessary, that is unfortunately the case and I hope for you your boss will not forget if you one time don't show respect, that he then doesn't forget all the other stuff.

    "I'm completely relaxed about it, if you would have seen me as a player what I did out of emotion, it was insane and I'm a completely normal guy. If nothing else, we will talk about it and it will be sorted."

    Victory for Liverpool at The Hawthorns this weekend would leave them just a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to go in the battle for Champions League qualification.

  • Lingard named Premier League Player of the Month as fine loan spell continues Lingard named Premier League Player of the Month as fine loan spell continues

    Jesse Lingard has been named the Premier League Player of the Month for April, winning the award after also being nominated in February and March.

    The attacking midfielder has thrived since joining West Ham on loan from Manchester United.

    Lingard scored four goals and added an assist in four appearances over the course of the month as West Ham continued their push for a European place.

    He has nine goals and three assists in 13 Premier League outings for West Ham so far since joining, having been out of the picture under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the first half of the season at Old Trafford.

    The fine form he has shown earned Lingard an England recall in March.

    Mason Greenwood was one of the other members of an eight-man shortlist which also contained Trent Alexander-Arnold, Stuart Dallas, Kelechi Iheanacho, Matheus Pereira, Allan Saint-Maximin and Chris Wood.

    "I've been nominated for the past two months and even getting nominated is a great feeling for me," said Lingard, who recently received praise from Bruno Fernandes when the United playmaker labelled him the top-flight's best player over the past 10 games.

    "I want to be up there as the best I can be and the best in the world.

    "David Moyes has shown faith and given me the freedom in each game to go and perform."

    Meanwhile, Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce is April's manager of the month.

    He beat Sam Allardyce, Marcelo Bielsa and Solskjaer to the award after a month which saw Newcastle draw with Liverpool and Tottenham while recording wins over Burnley and West Ham.

    It was a run of form that secured Newcastle's Premier League safety.

    Bruce won the award for the first time after 19 years and 465 matches in the competition.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.