Jürgen Klopp admits he is delighted with the manner in which his Liverpool side have developed over the course of 2017-18 to date, but warned it will count for nothing come kick off in the crucial Champions League tie with Spartak Moscow on Wednesday night.
The Reds know they can finish top of Group E with a victory over the Russian side in the final fixture of the initial stage of the tournament.
And they will head into it in fine form, with an unbeaten sequence extended to eight matches with Saturday’s resounding 5-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.
Nevertheless, Klopp was keen to point out why he and his players can afford to take nothing for granted as they strive to reach the Champions League last 16.
He told his pre-match press conference at Anfield: “We are in a part of the season where we should see that we’ve worked together so far. There was no moment where we’ve had to make a completely new start, like saying, ‘OK, come on, forget everything we’ve did so far’.
“We had little drops and games which were not as good as we should have expected - Tottenham is the most obvious one because it was an 11 versus 11 situation, not like Man City with 10 versus 11. Yes, we had this but we’ve learned from it, that’s what we always try to do. That means unfortunately not too much for tomorrow night.
“Most of the things we are talking about like shape, moments and stuff like this is the past - and we need to prepare for tomorrow, so that’s different. I am really happy about it, but I cannot take it for granted, and the boys cannot take it for granted, we have to prove our quality every day, especially every matchday.
“Tomorrow is a very important match for us. I don’t want to make it bigger than it is but it is very big. With all the things around, with all the excitement and uncertainty before a game, and all the opportunities in the game, I am really happy about this opportunity.”
Liverpool boast an unbeaten record from their first five Group E fixtures, though three of those have ended in stalemate – including a 1-1 draw with Spartak in Russia back in September.
Asked about the magnitude of Wednesday’s clash given everything that’s at stake, Klopp said: “[It is] the game - it’s the game because we are only part of the Champions League because we want to go to the next round.
“All the good and bad things that have happened so far in the Champions League - mostly good - brought us into this situation; having a home game and if we win then we are through and that’s cool. I know that a lot of people probably already before the game or even in the game will think, ‘we could already be through’ but that’s not life. It’s not if and when, it’s about the moment.
“Spartak could, by the way, say the same. They gave four points away against Maribor and they would be in a different situation [if they hadn’t]. It is how it is and I am really looking forward to it.
“It’s very important. I think we are stronger than we were when we played them, but they are stronger as well. They are in a good moment in the league, they have important players back, very important players offensive back, so it will be an exciting game and that’s how the Champions League should be.”
Last time out in the Champions League, Liverpool spurned the chance to secure qualification for the last 16 with a game to spare when they relinquished a 3-0 half-time lead to draw 3-3 with Sevilla in Spain.
“First of all, there is absolutely no reason to think about that; I cannot think before each game about a 3-0 lead and then that the other team will come back,” Klopp stated. “I said it already in Seville, probably if we had been 3-0 up at Anfield then it would not have happened.
“The atmosphere helped a lot, that’s what I think a little bit more about – that I really think the atmosphere can and should help us tomorrow. We all know how special this place can be in specific moments and that’s what I am looking for, that’s what I want and that’s what hopefully everybody knows. Thank god it’s a little bit cold so everyone needs to move to keep kind of warm!
“I am really excited about the opportunity, having a game like this you don’t have guarantees in life – the only thing is if you don’t try all then you get nothing. So let’s try all and we will see where it leads us to.”