Press conferenceJürgen Klopp: I can't wait for the final - having the chance again is really special

Published 25th May 2022
By James Carroll and Glenn Price

Jürgen Klopp detailed his excitement at taking his Liverpool squad to another Champions League final.

The Reds face Real Madrid in Paris' Stade de France on Saturday evening in their third appearance in the showpiece event under Klopp. 

It's a rematch of the 2018 final in Kyiv, where Real emerged 3-1 winners before Klopp's side responded 12 months later to beat Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid. 

Klopp previewed the latest encounter with Los Blancos during a media day at the AXA Training Centre on Wednesday – read on for a summary of what he had to say at his press conference...

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25th May 2022

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On how Liverpool's current situation compares to the one they found themselves in back in 2019 before the Champions League final...

It is different and not different at the same time because on Sunday it was harder, but just because of the script, the story, of the matchday. If City would have been 3-0 up after 12 minutes then it [would be] a completely normal situation which you could expect. But, with being 2-0 down, the typical drama we are kind of involved [in], and us obviously struggling to score the second goal, that made it then directly after the game slightly harder. Since then, it is all the same. We met this morning again, we are all in a good mood, life is like this: if you are healthy, which the boys obviously are, life gives you opportunities again and again. In this case, it is a Champions League final, so we see that and nobody feels the pain from Sunday anymore. We are really just looking forward to this game against an incredibly strong opponent, the most experienced opponent you can probably get in this competition. We are really looking forward to it.

On how the outcome of Saturday's final will define the perception of Liverpool's season...

It would be, without the Champions League final, a great season. With the Champions League, winning the Champions League would be a fantastic season. It's as easy as that. There are still levels. That's absolutely fine, we don't think because we won two competitions now and were close in a third competition that we wouldn't care about that. That is, of course, not the case. You never know how often you will reach a Champions League final, so you better use the few opportunities you get. For us, it is now really special, the third time in the last five years. That is really special with this group.

We obviously had all downs and ups in our own Champions League history. In the last five years, we were there three times, I don't know exactly the number but Real Madrid in the last 10 years probably won it five times, or at least four times, so that makes it really special. A lot of these players were always involved in these kind of games, so it will be a great game. I really think the world will be red or white on this matchday and that's exactly how it should be. It is historically two teams who were always strong in this competition and now in the present as well, which is a good sign – competing with this kind of calibre is the best thing you can do. Obviously we are not going there just to be part of it, that's clear. To be 100 per cent honest, I can't wait to go there and not because I think, 'It's Real Madrid, let's kick them [out]' or whatever – not at all. I know how difficult it will be. It is just having the chance to go again for it is really special.

Henderson and Salah's pre-Champions League final press conference

On his respect for Carlo Ancelotti...

I am sure my English is not good enough to find the words exactly for that. What Carlo is for me, he is obviously one of the most successful managers in the world, but he is a role model in the way he deals with all the success. He is one of the best people you can ever meet. I think everybody will tell you that; he is fantastic company, a really nice guy, and we have a really good relationship. It had a bit of a break when he was at Everton because we both respected this part of the business too much otherwise we would have gone out for dinner a couple of times. We didn't do that at all. The respect for him from my side couldn't be bigger. He is incredible, he is pure experience and very, very, very successful. He won everything everywhere and will never stop and I really respect that, but that doesn't mean anything for this particular game.

On the difference in heading into this Champions League final having won the competition previously, compared to 2018 and 2019...

I can tell you it is different, definitely. It is nicer that today I don't have to talk about the last six finals I lost or whatever, it's really much nicer. But it is part of my story and I cannot change that. With all the finals we played before – it was only one Champions League final but a lot of other finals as well – for me, I mean it – the journey is as important. Qualifying for a final is, in all sports in the world, incredibly big but in the end there can only be one winner and you have to be ready for that. Maybe you have to learn that, maybe I had to learn it a bit harder or a bit longer. Maybe I needed to prepare the teams better or whatever.

Sometimes you need luck... let me say it like this, you always need luck, we didn't always have luck, that's true as well, but yes, it is a massive difference that we won it already. But we face a team who won it – the majority of this team – probably three times. Toni Kroos, I think, won it three times already; probably Luka Modric as well; Casemiro as well; Benzema for sure. So, if we are now in a better place, then what are they then? It is a massive advantage then, they won it already three times. It doesn't mean they will be a bit softer, I couldn't see that in the semi-final, quarter-final or last 16. Their desire is on a maximum level from their side and will be on a maximum level from our side, but it feels better to know you have won it already than to know you never won it before.

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On whether he has any extra motivation after what happened in the 2018 final...

No. It is clear, this was a harsh night for us. It was really tough to take. The circumstances, the way we conceded the goals, the injury of Mo of course, a lot of things happened that night. We came there a little bit on three wheels, if that makes sense. We had a long season as well – that's how it always is when you play a Champions League final. Players came back just in time to make it for the final, so when we had to change we couldn't replace Mo [Salah] one to one, so that was the story of that Champions League year. I don't believe in revenge. I understand it as well, it's just I don't think revenge is a fantastic idea. I understand it, but I am not sure it is the right thing to do. 

For us, I understand what Mo said, that he said he wants to put it right – I want to put it right. In Germany we say you always meet twice in life and that sounds more like a threat than it actually is, it is just like behave better in the first moment because if you meet again, you will get the reception or the reaction. It is all fine between me and us and Real Madrid; it is a football game on the highest level and if whoever thinks it is a good idea to give us the opportunity to win it this time, I think it would be a great story – but it will not happen because of what happened in 2018. It just will happen if we make the right decisions on the pitch and I hope we can do that.

On players entering the final 12 months of their contracts and whether Saturday's final has any impact on their future... 

No, not at all. We are in talks with all the players. It's just not the moment to talk about the result of these talks. None of them are sitting there and has no idea what we are planning, what we are doing, all these kind of things. It's all clear. 

On the boost the squad receives when they see how much red is in the stadium for a final...

It is the best I can imagine. I had no idea how much I loved the Carabao Cup final until we played it. It was an exceptional occasion, I loved each second of it. I think it was an absolutely exceptional game, was 120 minutes up and down, both teams at a really high level, not a lot of goals obviously until we started shooting the penalties and then we saw a lot of goals, too many actually. Same with the FA Cup final. I love this kind of two colours, it's absolutely great. I think in this specific moment now, I really think the world is either white or red on that particular day because, I think, there are some people who obviously don't like us too much and they then will support Real Madrid. And there are some people [who] don't like Madrid too much and they will support us. And all the rest is anyway on our side, let me say it like this, and that's really cool. It gives you a massive boost, it shows the importance of the game. How much we love playing at Anfield, you see hopefully with the performances. So that's the best thing you can have, like 90 per cent of the supporters are on your side. In the final, it's 50 per cent – that's the best you can get in an away game. I can't wait to see that.

On analysing Real's run to the final...

There are different aspects of analysis obviously. So now if we would only take the last 10 minutes of all the last knockout stages they had, then you would say they are pretty much unbeatable, clear, no chance. The comebacks they had are really special. But these games were all longer than only these last 10 minutes and obviously they had to come back in moments, that is like it is. When you remember the PSG game, there were a lot of chances PSG missed which they usually use, but Madrid kept the door open or PSG in this moment left the door open. One is, for sure, this team is full of experience. They know exactly how to approach a game, especially a final. We felt that harshly in the 2018 final that they had a massive advantage that night to us. That was clear. Since then we gained a lot of experience ourselves, which is very helpful. 

The team, you can see in all situations that they are full of confidence in one-on-one situations with the ball, everybody is so calm on the ball, really relaxed here and there. The way they build up is very confident, technically highest level, not overly complicated but that's good for them because football is not that complicated. They bring the right players in the right positions. In the end when they get up front, different opportunities – the speed from the wingers, the flexibility and the presence from Benzema, these kind of things. So, that's pretty much what they do in the game. And then if they have to, they could now – three times – really strike back in a spectacular way. But these kind of things are not guaranteed, so it's not that I have to mention it now constantly and say, 'By the way, if we are not 4-0 up with 10 minutes to go then they will definitely score five goals.' It's not like this. It's just clear they are able to do special stuff and that's what we knew anyway. 

An analysis is like this, my boys know how good they are if we let them do this, this and this. Then we have to show them what we can do [so] that they cannot show how good they are in this, this and this situation. Their finishing skills – not finishing in the sense of scoring goals but finishing games off – are obviously pretty impressive. It's all clear. But we are not here by any kind of magic. It's not that we are now, 'Oh my God, how did we get in the Champions League final?' We deserve this as well. My boys played a sensational group phase. I heard now, I didn't know it, the first time an English team won all six games in a group stage, which is absolutely exceptional in the 'group of death' how you probably named it as well. And then we had hard moments to overcome, the away games were absolutely exceptional. Everybody speaks – and rightly so – about the European nights at Anfield but this year we saw that the knockout stages [were] away and brought it over the line at home somehow. That's pretty special as well. That just shows we, as well, have different ways to win football games. 

I really want to focus on us, with all respect to Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti. I know how good they are. But I cannot go into the game and just constantly talk and think about Real Madrid in the last 10 minutes, or five minutes, two minutes. If that would be our opponent for 90 minutes, that will be really tricky. But, thank God, there are 88 more minutes.

On having three weeks to prepare for the 2019 final and the preparations for this one...

Massive difference, an absolutely massive difference, but not a problem because we know it. I think [in] 2016 when we played the Europa League final, I think that was like three days after the last matchday. That's a problem, definitely, after the season was similarly long, I am pretty sure, 63 games as well probably. Really crazy. So that's a problem. But a week is great. We had two days off – not all of us, some players had to do this and that. But the players who played all the time had two days off and we met this morning again. That's how we try to do it the whole season, that we really try to give the boys as many days at home as possible in an incredibly tight, intense schedule.

And now we are here, we are fresh and we are full of excitement about the opportunity and these kind of things. So, three weeks is actually too long but we used it well because we knew it – if you qualify for it, then you have three weeks, so you plan it and everything is fine. I think that time we gave the boys a week off and then we had two weeks to prepare for the final, and we did that and it was fine. This time, we don't have that much time – that's good as well. Now we know it, we did what we wanted to do today and we do what we want to do tomorrow and on Friday in Paris, and then we will be ready. So, everything around six, seven days is absolutely fine. Lesser is not so cool. But that's what we have to take. No, all good.

Published 25th May 2022