It may be the biggest game of the season for Liverpool, but Jürgen Klopp tonight insisted their preparations for the Europa League final haven’t differed to any other fixture they’ve contested on their road to Basel.
The Reds take on Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday night aiming to bring home their first piece of silverware since 2012.
Interest surrounding the match has, understandably, reached fever-pitch level as Klopp and his team attempt to secure a trophy in his first campaign at the helm.
However, within the perimeter of Melwood – and now their base in Switzerland – things haven’t varied to the manner in which Liverpool previously got themselves ready for the likes of Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Klopp was quizzed by reporters on how he’s preparing the Reds for the showpiece final.
He responded: “As normally as possible because the special circumstances are obvious.
“It’s clear we have to do more press work, everything changes in a moment like this. In the last two weeks, nobody has asked us about the next Premier League game – everybody has asked us about this game, everyone wants tickets and it’s a special situation, so the rest needs to be as usual as possible.
“If not, we would have done a lot of things wrong in preparing for all the other games. We had special games, we were under pressure at home against Villarreal because we were 1-0 down [from the first leg]. Then we were under pressure in Dortmund, we were under pressure at home against Dortmund in the game. But these boys always did a perfect job, so why should I change?
“If I change they could think ‘oh, maybe he thinks we are not ready’. I am sure they are ready and that is what I want them to feel. We feel good, I’m really pleased for the boys – I am really pleased I can be part of this moment with this team.
“When I came here, there was a big amount of doubt about these players and now I am really happy they could show how strong they are.
“Tomorrow is a big opportunity to make a final step, not the final step, but the final step in this season. To achieve something great. I am really happy to be here with this club and this team, so let’s try it.”
Liverpool’s journey to the Europa League final has been an eventful one, with the team displaying resilience and determination to bounce back from seemingly perilous situations to ultimately secure a ticket to Basel.
Klopp insists those experiences against sides such as United, Dortmund and Villarreal have readied his squad in the best possible fashion for the expectation levels they’ll experience once more on Wednesday night.
He said: “We had pressure, how could the pressure be bigger tomorrow? It’s a football game and if you forget it’s a football game, you make the first mistake.
“We have to defend at the highest level, we have to be organised at the highest level. The mental side is a big influence obviously, there’s no doubt about it, but all we’ve done since we’ve been together, we’ve done to be perfectly prepared for a game like this tomorrow.
“It’s not to reach the next level of concentration and organisation; it’s to use what we already know. That’s what we will try.”
Such is the scale of the fixture and the interest around it, reporters from all over the world descended upon St. Jakob-Park for the pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
One journalist, who travelled from Japan to be in attendance, asked Klopp quite simply what the most important factor would be if Liverpool are to defeat Sevilla.
He replied: “Being well organised, being brave. Prepare moments, be patient enough to pass long enough to get the opportunity to play the last pass.
“A lot of things will be important tomorrow, it’s all about football. If you are a neutral viewer, it’s easier to enjoy if you see two teams on the highest level battling for each little opportunity, each little advantage.
“In a final especially, you need to be ready. You need to be ready to make mistakes, even when the whole world is watching, because football doesn’t work without mistakes. It’s all about reaction to the things that didn’t work how you wanted. It’s all about finding the next solution, that’s all.
“It’s concentration on the highest level, using your skill on the highest level. I enjoy being part of it, so everything is OK.”
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