No room for defensive errors: Juergen Klopp
Liverpool can mount another memorable Champions League comeback at Anfield when they take on a depleted Real Madrid in the quarter final, second leg, but they cannot afford any more defensive errors, manager Juergen Klopp said on Tuesday.
Down 3-1 from the first leg, Klopp’s side find themselves in a near-impossible situation in the knockouts again and will seek inspiration from their 2019 semi-final comeback against Barcelona when they won 4-0 to advance with a 4-3 aggregate score.
With their backs against the wall and no supporters in the stadium to encourage them due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Klopp said they would have to create their own atmosphere as they look to overturn the deficit.
“When you are 3-1 down, it looks like we are already out — it means we have not a lot to lose. The result showed they were better than us but it’s only the first half,” Klopp told reporters.
“Football is football, anything is possible,” Klopp added on the possibility of a comeback. “We speak about results but for me, the performance is much more important. We have to play like ourselves.
“It’s important to defend at your highest level with the ability Madrid have. No room for errors... Real beat Barcelona (in La Liga) after us so obviously they are in a good moment.”
Real are struggling with injuries and fitness issues, however, with Zinedine Zidane’s side suffering more injuries than any other team in La Liga this season. Defenders Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal, winger Lucas Vazquez and forward Eden Hazard are sidelined, but Klopp said that will not stop Zidane’s highly motivated side.
“Real didn’t win the competition so often with Zidane because they’re not experienced. They have had an intense season and injuries, we are the same,” Klopp said.
“The decisive part of the season is now and I’m 100 per cent sure Real will be 100 per cent ready, not how they felt straight after the Barca game.
“It’s a difference to watch Real and play them. The individual quality of the players is really high if they want something desperately, as was the case (in the first leg).”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged his players to execute their plans on the pitch rather than worry about different scoreline permutations for their quarter final second leg against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.
City will take a 2-1 lead to Dortmund, knowing the German side could seal progress with a 1-0 win on Wednesday on the away goals rule. But Guardiola was relaxed about his team’s chances and expects both teams to score at the Signal Iduna Park.
“If you think of the consequences or goals you have to score or concede, you forget what you have to do,” he told a news conference on Tuesday. “It doesn’t matter what happens in the first leg, you have a chance in the second.
“It will be better they don't score and we win, but in the Champions League you always have a chance. We have weapons to score, they have weapons to score.”
City are aiming to reach the final four of Europe’s elite club competition for the first time under Pep, having suffered elimination from the quarter final stage in each of the past three seasons.
But Guardiola brushed off questions about his trust in his players as the Premier League leaders remain on track to complete a quadruple in an intense final phase of the season.
“After 27 victories in 29 games if I don’t trust the players... I would be crazy. The players were sad when we didn’t get to the semi-finals (last season) but nobody will give it to us, we have to do it.”