Jürgen Klopp: I've never had a better team for a final than this one
Jürgen Klopp discussed a range of subjects as he held a press conference on Tuesday ahead of Liverpool's Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur.
The boss fielded questions from journalists during a media day at Melwood, offering his thoughts on the threat of Spurs in Madrid, the three-week gap between matches, and where success on Saturday would rank in his career achievements.
Read a summary from the press conference below…
On whether he has worked with a team that works harder than this one…
I don’t like to blame my other teams, to be honest. I love them all because they all gave their everything. This team is doing well. I’ve never been part of a final with a better team than this, that’s true. But in different times for different reasons my teams were good as well. I’m not so surprised because the boys are, how we call it, a mix-up – potential with attitude – in the best way I ever saw or experienced. That’s just brilliant, it’s exceptional and that brought us where we are.
We could have said a couple of weeks ago, ‘It’s not really likely that you will be champion at the end of the season’. Human beings are like that, you stop giving your everything because, only for a chance, we are not really ready – we want to have it for sure. [But] these boys did it for the chance for being there. They gave us a lot and showed us a lot. In the five or six days between Barcelona and Barcelona nobody believed more in this team than the team themselves. That was brilliant and that’s why we are here.
It’s a sensational situation, being here again is great. We wanted it really desperately but it looked like it slipped through our fingers in the group stage already; we had a brilliant start in the Premier League but struggled a bit in the away games in our group. But did it in the most mature way you can do it, against an Italian side to have to win 1-0 is unbelievable. Since then, all our away games were really impressive, Barcelona not result-wise but performance-wise 100 per cent, Bayern Munich and Porto were really good. So I’m really happy that we can do it again.
On whether he expects a cagey game because the sides know each other well…
It will be very tight, no doubt. The quality of Tottenham and us is pretty similar. The difference between us in the league was consistency. We won both games against Tottenham but both 2-1. We had brilliant periods in the games where I think we deserved to win, but especially the home game was an absolutely tight game with a lucky goal in pretty much the last minute. So that’s what we expect, there’s no doubt about that.
Poch is right that the emotions will be completely different. You have to use all the things you used during the season but in the specific circumstances. We are all human beings; it’s a special game and after that it’s no game anymore. Bringing ourselves in the right mood is, for us, the job to do, to really play the game we want to play.
We know a lot about Tottenham, of course. But we had three weeks. After these three weeks I would have known the name of the groundsman of Barcelona as well if they had been the opponent. That’s how the football world is. We would have known exactly the same against each other team in the world. But we played against them, so we know it’s difficult, Tottenham know it’s difficult. Let’s play a difficult game and let’s win it.
On whether this is already the greatest moment in his coaching career…
If I win it, yes. It would be different to the last finals. To bring a team to the Champions League final again, is that the biggest moment of my career? No. The biggest moment of my career was in 2004, getting promoted with Mainz. That was the biggest moment of my career, I cannot change that. The money we had, the circumstances we had – nobody needed us in the first league – that was so far the biggest moment. Winning the Champions League with Liverpool, I would think new. But so far it is getting promoted with Mainz.
On if the three-week break since the last fixture will influence the game…
[It’s] not negative because both teams had the same time to use or lose rhythm. Our life is a constant challenge. The Europa League final three years ago, we played three days after a very intense league. Ask me three days or three weeks, I’ll always take three weeks, 100 per cent. The best would be maybe a week after but it’s not possible because of the cup final, so it’s two or three weeks. I’m completely fine with that.
For Tottenham it was for sure good, they had a lot of injuries and they came now pretty much all back. But we had it as well, with Bobby especially, that we could use the time between his injury and the final. Keep the rhythm, do the right things in training, we do that a lot. But I never had a pre-season where I trained for three weeks without a game, that’s why we decided not to do it like this. So we had a game last Saturday, an internal game, to keep the rhythm and do different things. It was good, everything was fine.
With the things we did, us and Tottenham, we all will be fresher than three weeks ago after playing, playing, playing. Both teams did that. That’s clear. But both teams are like this, so maybe it will be a more lively final than we saw in the past. That’s possible. At the end, it’s about digging the game and playing it – don’t worry, don’t think, just play the game how you always played it. We don’t have to change things.
Yes, Tottenham play different systems and can change it in the game. It only influences you if you are not ready to react, if you are tired or not aware. We had time to prepare these things; what do you do [if you are] 0-0, 1-0 up, 1-0 down. It’s not that you can say, ‘OK, we are 1-0 up, we do it like this, we close the door at the halfway line.’ It’s not like this. You can think a lot of things and you have to remind yourself from time to time how strong my team is. In the analysis of the opponent, Tottenham is good here, good there – but we are there as well, thank God.