Jürgen Klopp: Everything that we are is required against Villarreal

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp: Everything that we are is required against Villarreal

Published 2nd May 2022
By Glenn Price and Chris Shaw

Jürgen Klopp stressed the need for Liverpool to produce a performance full of quality and heart if they're to reach the Champions League final.

The Reds hold a 2-0 advantage as they head to Spain to take on Villarreal on Tuesday evening in the second leg of the last-four tie. 

The boss previewed the encounter at Estadio de la Ceramica during a press conference on Monday afternoon – read on for a summary...

On approaching the second leg and whether the tie 'is over'... 

Of course not, we know that. It's half-time. In the best possible way, you ignore the result from the first game. If that would be a cup game, only one game and it would be decided and we have to go to Villarreal, we would try to win there – and that's what we want to try there. Knowing that they will go with all they have, it's absolutely clear. And it was clear after the game directly with all the things Unai said after the game, the way they set up for the game in La Liga – eight players, I think, they changed in the beginning and the two who started again went off after 45. So, it will be a tough one, but it's fine, really completely fine, because a Champions League semi-final should be tough and that's absolutely OK. We never expected it to be easy. This will not be easy. But we played a good game at home and we better play a good game there as well.

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On how important this game is in the season...

Whatever would be around, good or bad, [a] Champions League semi-final is the most important game you can play – let me say, the second-most important game you can play, maybe the final is more important. But for this moment, it's the most important game you can play and that's why whatever would have happened in the last few weeks, in the next few weeks, that's not important. For this moment, it's clear. You never know if you will reach a semi-final again, if we ever have a chance again to go to the final – you never know. We have an exceptional team here and nothing is [taken] for granted, you need luck in these moments, all these kind of things, so you better treat it carefully and be ready – but we will. We will be ready. We really wanted to be where we are and we want to go to the final. But if Villarreal is better than us and beats us with a result which qualifies them for the final, then congratulations and that's it. But between now and then, 95 or whoever knows how many minutes to play. I'm looking forward to it.

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On how important maturity will be tomorrow night...

Yeah, maturity, experience [is] very important, but again it's not the only decisive thing. It's all cool. You can be old and know everything about football but you can't play it anymore, so that would not be helpful. Everything that we are is required tomorrow night. That's it. We have to be ready to play a top, top, top, top game because they will go for us. They will high press, they will try to play much more football than we allowed them in the first game. I'm pretty sure – because of changing eight players and then two played 45 minutes – they had a normal session yesterday, so Unai will for sure try to adapt a few things to our style in this short spell. So, it will be really interesting, definitely. How I said, maturity is important but not the only thing. 

On winning every away game in this season's Champions League... 

Ask me after the season. In the moment, I don't think about it, really. It probably was needed. We were stable in the games but not because it was away or whatever, it's just we found in each game a way – and we have to find in this game a way to get the result we need to go through. It was good. Atletico was outstanding, Porto, really good, Inter... the games were good but, look, we didn't win the games somehow and sitting deep and waiting to counter-attack. I think we tried to play like ourselves always, and that's what we have to try again. We will have to suffer and we will have to be ready to suffer and we will have to sit back in moments, definitely, but not as a general approach. So, let's see.

Naby Keita

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On Naby Keita's recent form…

Long may that continue because that's crucial, that's key to everything. If you have the talent and the skillset of Naby Keita and you are not fit, then nobody sees it, that's how it is. If you then come back not in the best possible shape, all these kinds of things, that's normal physically. The player was never in doubt, not for a second, because he's outstanding. It's good he is now available. It's a good option, a very good option to have. Played at the weekend obviously a really good game, so we'll see how long we will use him tomorrow. A very good option.

On whether the experience of juggling a title race and the Champions League in 2019 is helping this season…

Yeah, in general. It's not the only year – OK, with going to the Champions League final and winning it – but in general, our last period of the season is most of the time pretty intense because the Premier League is too difficult to have a clear lead or whatever, to qualify for the Champions League. That this happened this year already is a really big, big achievement, to be honest, that it happened that early with all the competitors out there. It helps that we are, for us historically, physically in the best possible shape; if we don't have to push the boys through this, which we had to do as well in 2018, we arrived in the final on pretty much three wheels because players came back from injury late before the final, it was really tricky.

We have to make sure we can make changes here and there and keep them all in rhythm and fit and then obviously win the football games, because that's what it's all about. What we learned in that time: you cannot win 10 games, you can win one game and then maybe the next one as well. But only if you are 100 per cent focused for the first one and that's now the first one of the last whatever number of games, it's Villarreal.

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On having the confidence the team can come through challenges if they have to 'suffer' in moments tomorrow night…

I do. The thing with all these things during a season – obviously in the situation we are in, it's clear we must have done something right in the last few weeks and months – but the problem in our job is everything is perfect until this moment I'm sitting here and now the next game we start on the wrong foot or whatever and all of a sudden the game gets a different dynamic and all these kinds of things. It's good to know, it's more a feeling inside, it's not that we are flying constantly and high-five here and there. We know we are in a good moment, that's true.

But if you now go the other way around, what would you do if you lost the game 2-0 away, maybe not happy with your performance, knowing you can do better, with your own crowd in the back. Why should I think about what we did in the past? My only concern is what we do tomorrow night. So, we have to be ready to suffer. Not go down or whatever, that can happen in all football games, I'm not thinking about that. Giving a game the right direction. Let's think: they have the first shot on target or whatever, the crowd goes up, each challenge, the crowd is there. That's how it is.

Actually, a good example was Newcastle now because the crowd was obviously very passionate as well but we didn't let it happen, which was the biggest quality of this game. It was not a show of football brilliance; we had our moments and of course could have scored more goals. But how clear-cut the performance was, that was incredible. And that's what we have to be. Yes, emotional. Yes, being there really ready to play the best game ever, but knowing it will not just happen in all moments. We want to press here and there, but outplaying us still can happen. Suffering doesn't mean you suffer for long, it means you suffer and react – and that's what we have to do.

Published 2nd May 2022