Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool's clash with Bayern Munich represents the best of what Champions League football is all about.
The teams go head-to-head in the first leg of the last-16 tie at Anfield this evening, with the return in Germany scheduled for March 13.
Klopp feels it’s a contest to whet the appetite – and one without a clear favourite heading into it as he detailed why the Reds will need to be at their maximum if they're to progress.
He wrote in his column for the official matchday programme: "There is no need for me to talk about expectation for atmosphere and passion inside this ground tonight. Not because we ever take it for granted or just expect it – the opposite actually.
"It’s because I know both clubs well enough that when a fixture like this comes around they have it ingrained in them to perform to a certain level. I’m talking about the supporters here, rather than just the two sets of players.
"Both clubs embrace the joy and energy of a fixture like this one. Both are built for ties like this. Both see great opportunity if they work hard and smart enough for the positive outcome.
"I cannot hide from the fact that Bayern Munich are a team I know more about than most of the opposition we face in international competition. They were of course a regular opponent both in domestic competitions and the Champions League when I worked in Germany, and with it still being my home country I pay more attention to what happens in the Bundesliga than others, outside of the Premier League itself.
"Because of this knowledge, aside from the usual analysis we do, I know how unbelievably powerful they are, as a team and as a club. Bayern know what it takes to win – it’s what they do. This season people were far too quick, in my opinion, to draw conclusions on them early and some of those who fell into that trap now risk looking a little silly.
"They’ve had some transition to manage, but it is clear they are now in the right mood and we must be ready for a side full of confidence and attacking intent. When the Champions League starts each season Bayern Munich are a team people with knowledge predict will have a big say in the outcome of who wins it – this season it is no different. We face a side who will have ambitions to go all the way. But guess what – we are also a side that refuses to limit its ambitions.
"We are in a really good way this campaign and I know that has been reflected in Germany when judging this tie. Whatever judgements have been made prior to kick-off tonight could not matter less to the outcome itself. It is not to compare us with Bayern Munich – nothing of use can be achieved by that? We are Liverpool and we are our own benchmark.
"It is entirely possible to respect that this is a blockbuster fixture without needing analysis of who has the better chance of progressing. We prepare for this game like every other one. We look at and respect our opponents’ strengths and learn about them before playing. But when we pass on that information it is about how we can use it to maximise our own qualities, of which there are many. We make it about what we can do – we make it about us always.
"We were away most of last week in training camp and what I saw there was a squad of players only interested in ourselves and what we can do together. I saw players who are loving being involved in something that matters and has the potential to be significant. The team we focus on more than any other is always us and what we can do and achieve with hard work and focus."
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