Jürgen Klopp: It's only half-time - this tie still needs to be won
Jürgen Klopp described tonight's clash with RB Leipzig as a 'contest to attack' as he underscored Liverpool's awareness of the work still to do in the Champions League tie.
Three weeks on from the Reds’ 2-0 win over the Bundesliga club at Puskas Arena in Budapest, the sides will reconvene at the same venue to settle a place in the quarter-finals.
The game has been switched from Anfield to the Hungarian capital as Leipzig are unable to travel to Merseyside due to COVID-19 regulations in Germany.
Those goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane last month established an edge for Klopp’s men in the battle – but one he and his team know from personal experience cannot be taken for granted.
“It feels so strange to be doing this column for a home game that will not be played at Anfield,” the manager writes in his notes for the official match programme.
“This is not a complaint, by the way. The situation is what it is. It is not UEFA’s fault, or Leipzig’s – and certainly not ours. It is the situation of the world at this moment.
“Situations are fluid and compromises must be made if we wish to keep playing and complete competitions. There is no perfect or ideal way. At the moment it is about making do.
“Leipzig missed out on home advantage the first time. We don’t have it now. Therefore you have this unusual dynamic of a two-leg tie with both matches in the same venue.
“I must say at the outset how grateful we all are to the people in Budapest and at the Puskas Arena for hosting us once again. It might sound like I am saying this because we enjoyed a good result in the first leg, but honestly the organisation, welcome and facilities are second to none.
“Outstanding city, brilliant training availability, wonderful accommodation – and most importantly of all a world-class stadium and playing surface. If this stadium is chosen in the future for a Champions League or Europa League final venue then it will be more than worthy.
“We arrive back this evening knowing we are only at half-time. Nothing is done. The contest is still to be won. No outcome guaranteed.
“As a club and as a team we know better than most that having a lead in the Champions League is only as good as what you do with it. If the scoreline was reversed I know I would still view our chances as very good. It will certainly be the case for our opponent.
“We have a lead – which we have earned – that is all.
“My opposite number – Julian Nagelsmann – is one of the most exciting, innovative and adventurous coaches in world football. He rightly has many admirers… I am absolutely towards the top of that list. He is a person who I think will relish this situation tonight. He will view it as an opportunity.
“They enjoyed success against Manchester United in circumstances not entirely dissimilar. OK, that was the group stages and not the knockout, but the manner in which they took care of their game against United to qualify – having been beaten so comprehensively in Manchester – says a lot.
“It’s a warning, though, we don’t need because we are humble enough and smart enough to see their threat and quality without needing a specific case study. We respect them.
“That of course comes with the important footnote that we concentrate on ourselves first and foremost. This is a competition where we have earned our pedigree. Not through what our ‘club’ has achieved – but what the majority of this group of players has.
“I am the biggest believer in the world of keeping the focus on what’s next, rather than what has been. But we should not forget, as a team, the experiences we have had together in this amazing competition. We can use the experience as fuel I think.
“Not by thinking the badge on our shirt that says ‘6’ helps us – it doesn’t. However, remembering the values and application that brought us into that position can.
“Humility was always a central theme in guiding our success in European competition since I have been here. We never once acted entitled. We never once acted like the tournament owed us anything. What we achieved, we earned. Through commitment, quality and togetherness.
“We can still channel this. View every Champions League night as a privilege and something to cherish. Each game as a contest to attack.”