Having watched from afar on television, Joel Matip is relishing the opportunity to experience a European night at Anfield for the first time on Wednesday – and he believes the prospect of creating more fabled continental performances can serve as motivation for this current Liverpool squad.
The 26-year-old has explained how he viewed some of the Reds’ sensational nights in L4 during their run to the 2016 Europa League final while still in Germany as a Schalke player.
Now Matip will get to savour a European tie at Anfield in person when Jürgen Klopp’s men welcome Hoffenheim to Merseyside for the second leg of the Champions League play-off on Wednesday – and it’s something he cannot wait for.
He told Liverpoolfc.com: “I’m looking forward to it. I saw in the year before I came here the Europa League games on TV.
“I think it’ll be a special feeling to play European games here and I’m looking forward to it.
“I think everyone remembers the Dortmund game – a special moment. But now we are here to create our own special moments.
“Nights like this belong to a club like Liverpool and we will try to do everything to make them happen regularly.
“You want to be a part of this history, these moments, but for this you have to work even harder.
“I think the Champions League and Liverpool belong together - and we will do everything to make sure they stay together.”
Liverpool hold a one-goal advantage in the tie following last week’s first leg encounter with Hoffenheim in Germany.
The Reds lead 2-1, though they were made to work hard for the victory in a tough contest at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
“They played really well; it was a tough game and they had a lot of opportunities,” said Matip. “We have to perform against that better, but we won the last game and so we’re looking forward to this one. We believe in our qualities.
“The game [in Germany] went from one side to the other and for a defender that isn’t always the best! But in the end, the most important thing is that we won.”
Ensuring Liverpool keep a clean sheet on Wednesday evening would guarantee a place in the follow day’s group-stage draw.
Nevertheless, Matip insists the Reds won’t adopt any kind of protective mentality against their Bundesliga opponents.
“We will maybe try to control this game more, but if we win the game on Wednesday – even if it is the same again – the most important thing is that we win,” he stated.
“We will not stand in front of the goal and try to keep the clean sheet. This is not our kind of game. We will try to play in front and score, but if we can keep the clean sheet then obviously everyone knows we will reach the next step.
“I would prefer to get another clean sheet, but ultimately the most important thing is to get through and it doesn’t matter how. The important thing is getting into the Champions League and in the end it is not important how we do it. We only want to go through, but we know it’ll be a tough and hard game.”