Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Real Madrid tie: 'Cherish these moments and give it all we have'

By James Carroll, Glenn Price and Chris Shaw


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Jürgen Klopp urged Liverpool's players and supporters to 'fight with all we have' and rise to the occasion for another 'special' Champions League meeting with Real Madrid.

The much-anticipated, last-16 tie gets under way on Tuesday evening when Carlo Ancelotti's side visit Anfield in a repeat of the 2018 and 2022 finals.

To preview the first-leg encounter, Klopp attended a press conference at L4 on Monday and was quizzed on a wide range of topics – read on to see what he had to say…

On how previous meetings with Real are influencing Liverpool's mindset ahead of this game…

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I don't know, to be honest. Different things happened to us with Real Madrid. If you want, to me; at Dortmund I had already a Real Madrid story. One of the biggest clubs in the world, one of the most successful clubs for sure, won this competition I don't know how often. Super-experienced.

In our own story, just recently if you want, we played this final in Paris and I didn't watch it back since then – until this weekend. The thing I realised immediately: now I know why I didn't watch it back. But I had to and it was proper torture because we played a good game and we could have won the game, and that's the decisive word: we could. We didn't, they scored the decisive goal and we didn't, that was the reason. You could see in this game how experienced Madrid is, how little they are fussed when the other team has chances. They don't lose confidence in one second, they know, 'Our chance will come', they are there for that and they defend with legs, deep defending together. So, this is this team and that's the competition and that's what you can learn from them, definitely.

But that's seven, eight months ago. Before that, the last time when they knocked us out, we played there on the training ground and here in an empty stadium. Here the game was really good, it was a really good 0-0 where we let them run, let me say it like this, we let them work hard for the money and that was good. But this is now different teams. Same clubs, different teams, different times. There's a history. In the last few years one of us was kind of always in the final, that's how it feels at least. And usually if you want to go to the final it's always you have to kick us out or them. This time we play each other, so let's see who can go through.

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On whether there is a particular hunger to face Real at a full Anfield after the 2020-21 meetings were behind closed doors…

Yeah, if that would be a one-leg game just at home against Real Madrid, but I played in a full Bernabeu as well and that's a pretty impressive audience as well, let me say it like this. That will help hopefully tomorrow night and I know our people will give their absolutely everything – I can't wait to play the game really. But going then to the Bernabeu is a tough place as well to go, they turned around a lot of things and we don't even have a lead yet. So that will be really hardest work.

But who cares? It's Champions League and it's one of the biggest games in the world, one of the biggest games I ever heard about. With the recent history with one of us in the final and quite successful in the competition, difficult to play against, grinding results out and all these kinds of things, it will be a top football game. I'm really happy we can play it now; four weeks ago it would have been different but life is all about timing and maybe we found back our feet right in time for this game, even when I would have expected us to be ourselves as well even if we wouldn't have won the last two games because it's a different competition and you have to use this opportunity.

Now we have these two results and hopefully we can build on that, but we need to. We need to play a super game. We need to play two super games, to be honest, to get through. But I have no problem with that. Because if you don't play your best you don't have a chance. Real Madrid doesn't have to play their best and still has a chance – that's the difference and that's pretty special. But I can't wait.

On drawing encouragement from Liverpool looking 'a lot more like a team again'...

True, we did. But we still have to prove that point, so that's how it is. Now this is a different competition and whatever we can take, but after that it's Crystal Palace. So, we need results, there's no shadow of a doubt. We were already in a similar situation, I don't say performance-wise but result-wise we were in a similar situation directly after the World Cup break. I think with the two wins, it looked like, 'Oh now we are there.' So, we have to prove that point. But you are right, it looks different – we feel it, we see it, it helps the mood massively and from here we have to go. That's how it is.

But for tomorrow night, whatever we would have done at the weekend, I would have expected us to fight with all we have. You always work so hard for qualifying for the Champions League, so I really think you have to cherish these moments where you just think, 'OK, that's Liverpool v Real Madrid.' We all dreamt of that, we all did and it will never change that it will be a special game. I expect Anfield on their toes, to be honest. I'm really happy for the people that they saw us in a better shape in the last two games, that they have a bit more things to look forward to. And yeah, let's go together again.

On Ancelotti and Real Madrid being the 'ultimate test' in European football...

Yeah, yeah, they are. Somebody told me – I don't even know if it is true or not – that Carlo said after the final, 'Liverpool was cool that day, they know exactly what they will face' – after the final, before the final, I don't know exactly. But I watched the game back now, even with knowing exactly what we will do – we have to win this game. We didn't for the one reason: that we didn't score and conceded. But apart from that, we should have won this game.

But Carlo is the most relaxed manager I ever met in my life, one of the best people you can meet – fantastic person, humble person, super-smart and nice. Obviously his man-management is a completely different level to all of us and I respect that a lot, I admire that a lot. So yes, with this world-class team, which they were last year, brought in super-exciting young players. Maybe [they] struggle a bit in the league – I don't know if you can call that struggling, but Barcelona is just a few points ahead – but apart from that, they are always super, super-competitive and super-difficult to beat. So, this combination is a difficult one – that's true – but I think it makes absolute sense to try it anyway.

On whether Liverpool will be able to make Real Madrid 'panic'...

Generally, I don't think you can make this team panic. There were enough reasons; the chances we had and the saves Courtois had to make, that's where somebody could think, 'Oh my God, we have to close this gap or this gap…' What it looked like, what held us a little bit back, was the fact it was a final. We didn't take enough in little moments, we were not adventurous enough, were super-protected because of the counter-attacks, the possible counter-attack threat – [and] rightly so [as] we saw with the goal. Analysis is always super easy, especially a year later, you can tell here we could pass this ball and here we could pass that ball. But when I watched it back, it was a little bit the feeling of here and there, the extra spark and we could have made it.

Again, it's Real Madrid and you cannot play this game without respect and say, 'Who cares?' There was Modric, Kroos, Casemiro, Benzema, Vinicius, Valverde, all of them absolutely world-class. Now they have Tchouameni, Camavinga... it is a really well set-up team and that's why it is so difficult, but it doesn't mean it is not possible. We tried in the final, but in the rounds before when they played City and PSG, I think both games were definitely like 'game over' [for Real] and it wasn't. That's their quality. If you win the competition like some of their players, who have won it five times, they probably think they own the competition and they are probably right, but we still want to give it a try.

On whether the atmosphere will be enhanced by the events surrounding last season's final between the teams in Paris...

I don't think we needed the Paris game to make this a special game. There is a normal sports bill open. We lost the game and that's the good thing about sport, you want to put things right and that's what we try. That's all. There is nothing that happened around the Paris game that was the responsibility of Real Madrid. Nothing was the responsibility of our people. If that game wouldn't have happened, this would [still] be a massive game tomorrow night. Our people are football people and Real Madrid are in town, [so] celebrate this kind of event in the best possible way, how we did it over the last years. I can't wait for them as well to enjoy that.

The Real Madrid fans who come here should be welcomed in the best possible way, go out in the city, be in pubs and stuff like this and enjoy your time here and come to one of the most historical football places in the world and enjoy yourselves. Then, two top teams face each other, so I can't see why the Paris final should be a reason to enjoy it more. I don't know, but I think we spoke enough about the Paris final, the things what happened there. I watched it back but I watch football games without sound, so I cannot say anything about the atmosphere [in Paris] in that moment. I heard a lot and the mood people arrived into the stadium after making it into the stadium was absolutely not for watching a football game in the end. That's why this stage should have been completely different, but we all know that.

On whether Liverpool will have a plan to negate the threat of Vinicius Junior...

You always do try; you try to deny passes to them, but the problem we have is a little bit like, if you can defend Vinicius properly then there's Benzema. If you can defend him as well properly, then there is Valverde or Rodrygo or whoever. If you can defend all three, then Toni Kroos fires the ball from 25 yards in the far corner, Luka Modric has an idea and goes through. Tchouameni picks up a ball and fires it from 25 yards or arrives in the box and heads it in. That's how it is with world-class teams: they have world-class players and you have to defend them collectively. That's what we will try.



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