Peter Krawietz just heard the noise.
“I believe we wanted to make a change and I was talking to Joe Gomez, and suddenly the whole stadium exploded!” he tells Liverpoolfc.com.
“I thought, ‘Oops, what happened? Everybody is celebrating so the ball obviously hit the net!’ It must have been a good one but, to be honest, I didn’t see it!”
Liverpool’s assistant manager is recalling, as he so aptly puts it, ‘the famous corner of Trent Alexander-Arnold’.
“…Divock Origi came and we could score a fourth goal.”
To mark the first anniversary of Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona, Liverpoolfc.com caught up with Krawietz to discuss his memories of arguably Anfield’s greatest night.
Jürgen Klopp’s right-hand man provided an in-depth account of how it happened; of how, in his words, ‘a game that made history’ came to do just that…
Firstly, Pete, what do you remember about the build-up to the second leg?
There are a lot of stories! Of course, it’s a game to remember and afterwards we know that it’s a game that made history. Everything started with the game in Barcelona, where I am completely convinced that we played a really, really good game but due to the unbelievable quality of Barcelona, we lost 3-0. This was an unbelievable result: we played well, we have everything, created chances but didn’t score and they scored with situations three times that were nearly out of nothing.
After we conceded the third goal, for us on the bench it was clear that we should try to score one goal. But then came a situation that was really lucky because we conceded one or two counter-attacks and Barcelona could have scored their fourth or fifth goal. That was the moment it became extremely strange - so, we lost 3-0, we thought, ‘We played well’ and we could have lost a fourth or fifth goal! But pretty much exactly after the game, we, the coaching staff, had the feeling ‘come on, we should have got more from this game’ and we saw that we had the right ideas. We forced Barcelona to play in a different way, so they couldn’t do what they wanted to do, they couldn’t stick to their plan so we changed things, obviously, for them. This is where we had two minutes after the final whistle the feeling, and the experience a little bit as well, that in European Cup games in the knockout stage, it’s not over until the final whistle so everything is still possible, especially if you have a second game at home and at Anfield. This was the feeling we had pretty soon after the final whistle.
Mohamed Salah and Luis Suarez in battle at Camp Nou
So while I don’t want to say preparing for the second game was ‘easy’, it was, ‘Come on, let’s try’. We knew we had a good plan, we knew that for Barcelona it would be more difficult than they can think about or at the moment imagine, so we worked on real solutions. Our thinking was: ‘Come on, we still believe in it, we know that it’s possible, we know that we can develop this game.’ We knew it will be unbelievably difficult because we have to defend them still and they will think they just needed to score one or two goals and it’s done, and also because we have to score a lot of goals, but still it was an interesting, challenging situation. We were more positive and optimistic before the game than anybody else could imagine and this was my feeling: ‘Come on, let’s give it a try, we know it’s possible, we know what can happen and we know European Cup games can go with special rules.’
The teams line up ahead of the second leg
What about the second leg itself, then?
The start of the game was very positive. Our front three that day - Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Sadio Mane - they played unbelievable. The idea in that game was ‘don’t let Barcelona do what they want to do, force them to do different things’. That meant exactly that everybody in the world knows how good Barcelona is in build-up situations, so even if you try to put them under pressure they will try to use the spaces you offer them with combinations and so on and they want to bring Messi on the ball. Everything was based on turning this idea around - so keep pressing them, put them under pressure, force them to play long balls and then when the ball is in the air, use our advantage in there to fight for the first and second ball. That’s the way we wanted to come into the game and then we all know how good we can be if we have the ball and it will be possible for us to create and for us to score. That was the idea.
We scored I believe after six or seven minutes and it was still 1-0 at half-time. Barcelona, and especially Messi, played a fantastic game and we had Ali in goal who saved us three, four, five, six times! Then it was a wonderful example at half-time where we could say, ‘OK it’s 1-0, we still need to score a minimum of two goals in the second half until 90 minutes’, where we could show with one, two or three positive examples of our first half just to reinforce the idea that, ‘Yes boys, we are on the right way, keep it up, keep doing this, there are these other moments where we can finish our attacks, look at these spaces here, we can create crosses’ and so on. I don’t remember exactly the clips we showed, but I remember the message we gave the players at half-time: ‘Keep on going.’
'Angry Gini' celebrates after making it 3-0 on the night
We were forced as well to change because Robbo was injured and we brought Gini on, we brought angry Gini on! You could see in his face, if you know him you thought, ‘Oof, he’s on fire! Gini is on fire!’ and like we saw, he was on fire! The game went on and with two or three situations we scored two goals. This was the moment where you could see for the next 10 or 15 minutes that the Barcelona players were shocked - something had happened that they couldn’t imagine before. Of course, the crowd went up and the atmosphere was probably the most unbelievable one I ever experienced. I saw a few games meanwhile, but this atmosphere was unbelievable. And then it was getting interesting because both teams were tired. We put everything in these first 75 minutes. Barcelona realised, ‘OK, come on, it’s a bad situation we are in but the moment we score one, everything will be fine’ so they came up a little bit and tried even more, so we had to defend and try to score.
Then, the famous corner of Trent Alexander-Arnold! Divock Origi came and we could score a fourth goal which, to be honest, I didn’t see! I believe we wanted to make a change and I was talking to Joe Gomez, and suddenly the whole stadium exploded! I thought, ‘Oops, what happened? Everybody is celebrating so the ball obviously hit the net! It must have been a good one but I didn’t see it!’ It was 4-0 with, I believe, 10 or 12 minutes to go plus injury time, so again we had to put everything in on the pitch and I just thought, ‘OK, come on, let it happen!’ I was calm [after the fourth goal], I don’t know why. I saw Barcelona could score, of course, but with the atmosphere in the stadium, the way the boys played and defended and their passion, I was calm and confident because of this fantastic performance of everybody around me. I had the feeling, ‘OK, it’s going to happen’ and it happened, so it was a good one.
Jordan Henderson tangles with Lionel Messi at Anfield
Was the message at half-time different to what it might have been in more ordinary circumstances? Liverpool were winning 1-0 and had played very well but were still 3-1 down on aggregate, so was there a little less caution in your analysis and feedback to the players?
So it’s always about the whole picture, what the whole situation is. How football is, and I know this sounds strange: we defend because we want to score goals. The better you defend, the better you can attack. It is based on the idea that you win the ball instead of waiting, instead of only defending your goal or standing deep whether they score or not, this is our basic idea. We really try to win the ball and this has immediately an influence on everything and especially against Barcelona, you shouldn’t wait deep. You have to try to be dominant so we had to try to force them into doing things they don’t want to do, things they are not used to doing. This is what we tried over the whole 180 minutes and we always had this feeling that we were on the right way. It sounds strange if you lose the first game 3-0 but with the way we played - and this is, in the end, the most important thing, the way you play.
Everything else can happen of course, you can play fantastic but for some reason you don’t score and you lose games. We had this experience against Atletico Madrid this season, we played an unbelievably good game at Anfield. That was, for me, the best game of the last six months or so and we improved so much in between those two games - but at the end you can lose with one or two mistakes or one or two situations that don’t go in your direction. This can always happen, but the basic thing and the decisive thing is your performance and this is what you work for. This was the idea for the Barcelona game: with your good performance [in the first leg], keep doing the things we did before. This was the message, just to reinforce that. It wasn’t, ‘Come on, everybody run forward and try to score’, it doesn’t work like this. You have to create a base and give yourself space, and against Barcelona of course the defending thing was that we have to keep a clean sheet, otherwise everything else would be destroyed. So this is what we tried.
You mentioned the electric atmosphere at Anfield there. Do you look back on that night as one when everything was spot on: the preparation, the tactics, the performance of the team, the support from the fans? Everything all seemed to come together in a perfect storm…
Yes, for sure. We knew that you can do everything right and play really good and still lose. Of course, we had this kind of special situation because of the defeat on the first leg and probably an opponent who thought, ‘If we score one or two goals, it’s decided’ so it wasn’t a normal game, if you want. But because of this special situation, because of this special atmosphere, because the season before when we went to the final and lost it… to get this chance again we had to keep believing [and] still as well living in that feeling that whatever happens [we can say] we played well, so put the focus on the performance. We didn’t go in thinking, ‘We will win it’, we went in thinking, 'Come on, we have a chance, let’s try’ and the boys, they really tried and then they saw it can happen. Everybody felt it suddenly and this development is absolutely special, and only possible on European nights. It was extraordinary and that is exactly how I remember that game: extraordinary and things came together, everything went well and we played well. It was good and really special. It’s clear that something like this can’t happen every day but it’s something to remember.
Peter Krawietz sits and takes a moment to reflect as Anfield erupts at full-time