Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Real Madrid tie: 'We know the situation, but we'll give it a go'

Published 14th March 2023
By James Carroll and Joe Urquhart in Madrid

Jürgen Klopp acknowledges the size of the task facing Liverpool in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid, but insisted: 'We are here to give it a try.'

The Reds trail 5-2 from the first meeting at Anfield three weeks ago, leaving the hosts as favourites to progress into the quarter-finals.

Nevertheless, during his pre-match press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night, Klopp told reporters his side were in Spain with the target of staging a dramatic comeback against the odds.

Read a summary of his media briefing below...

On how he's feeling heading into the second leg of the tie...

I am happy to be here and what I said after the game on the night, three weeks ago, Madrid with the result are through to the next round. But now we are three weeks later and know there is a game to play - and if there is only a one per cent chance, I would like to give it a try. We are here to play an extremely strong opponent and try to win the game tomorrow. As difficult as it is, it's probably possible - not likely, but possible and for that we are here. Then we will see where it leads us to. That is pretty much all. We respect the competition too much, we respect the opponent too much to not look forward to this game tomorrow, to be honest. It is a tough task, we caused ourselves not a great situation we are in, but as I said, I am looking forward to the game anyway.

On Liverpool's inconsistent form this season...

I am not sure it is the season where we have the best chance, but let me say if we can surprise ourselves in a negative way then we should be able to surprise ourselves in a positive way as well. If it is going up and down then tomorrow will be up again, but we will see. It is clear, we are not here and telling Madrid, 'Be careful, we are coming…' That's not the situation we are in. We are here to try to win the game - and to win it, we have to play extremely good because there is no other chance. If we play a normal game or an OK game or a good game it will not be enough. Only to win it, I am not talking about going through to the next round. We have to be really on top of our game tomorrow, that is what we will try.

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Fabinho and Klopp's pre-Real Madrid press conference

On what Liverpool have to do different from the first leg, tactically...

The only problem we really had from a tactical point of view was the counter-attacks in the second half. In the first half, the goals were not counter-attacks and the situations of the counter-attacks we defended absolutely OK. You cannot avoid or deny Vinicius all the time and you cannot deny Karim all the time, but for a long period we did. We scored our two goals, conceded from a fantastic individual situation from Vinicius for the first one. The second goal was a present from us and then we could have scored a third one. From a tactical point of view, we have to be super-active with and without the ball; you cannot play against Madrid without defending on an extremely high level. It is a football-playing side, obviously, so our midfield press must be absolutely outstanding. With all the risk we have to take offensively, we have to make sure the counter-attacks we can avoid them as well, so that's pretty much the thing. Apart from that, I didn't see a massive problem with our tactical plan or whatever, we just didn't defend the counter-attacks well enough in the second half and Madrid scored wonderful goals from that, that's it pretty much.

On how much of a difficult situation Liverpool find themselves in at the halfway point of the tie...

Is this the most difficult [situation]? I don't know. It is difficult because we will probably not go through to the next round. Here in this room I think 100 per cent of the people think we have no chance and if I am the only one who thinks we are have a little [chance] I am fine. We are the complete outsider for tomorrow, 100 per cent. It is Real Madrid, they are three goals up, that is nothing you want for Christmas or whatever - you don't want this, but it is the situation now, it is football and we try to give it a go, that's all.

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On whether there is a sense of freedom for the players with 'nothing' to lose…

We have nothing to lose, that is a better situation than whether we have to lose everything. The only problem is we can lose a football game, which is actually a really bad thing, we've felt that a couple of times this season already, so we don't like that. If you don't play a good football game here you don't only lose, [but] you get a proper knock, because when they start enjoying the game that's not a moment you should come into. I know what he [Ancelotti] is talking about [saying the pressure is on Madrid], but anyway I would prefer his situation, to have a bit of pressure to defend a three-goal lead, but it's clear.

Carlo started already warning his team... he's doing it in public as well. That's what I said, three weeks ago, [the] tie was done. But now it is after three weeks we still have to play the game; you cannot change that. We are really happy about it, that we are allowed to play the game, I'm pretty sure Madrid would be fine if the game would be cancelled tomorrow, and they would just go through [into] the next round. We are happy about this not really existing chance, but let's play football, that's it.

On what he learned from the first leg and Fabinho saying Real can 'smell blood'...

Fabinho is right - Madrid can absolutely smell the blood. They don't lose the conviction or confidence, they are 2-0 down [at Anfield] and nobody sees a difference. It's a massive skill from a team, they [have] won so much in the last years that nothing can really excite them in a negative way, so that [is] something which is absolutely to admire, but apart from that, how to win. OK, I didn't win that many games, but how to win a football game, I won a few games, so I think I know how that goes, it's not about that. The way Madrid plays, we play different, we defend different, we attack different, so it's more about the mentality... Madrid have all my respect, absolutely, fantastic team, for the generation that is. The players on the pitch [are] five, six, seven times the Champions League winners.

It's absolutely crazy and still running, still going, Luka Modric keeps playing probably until he is 45, or something like that. Toni Kroos is only past 30 now, or something like that, so incredible players. Karim Benzema looks like he can play three [or] four other seasons and all these kind of things. Bringing young players, wow, Tchouameni and all the boys. It is a good team and obviously a pretty good club but apart from that we got a few lessons... we lost big finals, but we play some good games against them. I don't think I learned a lot, but it was how it always is, it makes you stronger if you go through tough times and Madrid gave me a few tough moments, so all good, I could take out of it what I needed.

On how many times he has watched back the first leg and the final from Paris to see different situations...

I didn't watch the final back again now, I watched it before the first leg, which was enough. But how many times? The full games I didn't watch that often, I saw it once maybe back, directly after the game. But situations, yes, we use everything. We use the recent games from Madrid in the league because it's important line-up-wise, even when Karim didn't play. It makes obviously a little bit of difference, but Madrid is doing what Madrid is doing. It does now not change between the games, it's just that good that they can do it. That's how it is. It's not that we have to watch five different games and say 'OK, here they do this, here they do that.'

They're good in everything, they have set-pieces, starts with the kick-off, different kick-off variations, different set-pieces, spot and play, possession-based game, counter-attacking, deep defending, high pressing, it's all there. It's the package, you cannot be such a successful team over the years if you are only good at one thing. We know what we have to expect tomorrow and now it is just about what we are doing, how good can we be, because how good Madrid can be we know and now we have to show how good we can be and that's not decided yet, so we have another 24 hours round about and then we will give it a try.

On the mentality and how he will break down the task to his players…

As I said, we are here to win a football game. That is difficult enough in this place, it doesn't happen a lot, it's not like frequently teams are coming to the Bernabeu and winning a game. This is one of the best teams in the world we face tomorrow, you don't come here and just expect to win it, but that's why we are here, we give it a proper try to win it and then we will see how that goes, but it's not about sitting here and telling three goals is no problem, of course it is a problem. On the other side, three is only possible if we don't concede, because otherwise we have to score more, which makes it a bit more unlikely. So, that's it. I understand 100 per cent, but as I said, with all the questions you have here is completely fine, if I would sit on that side of the table, I would see it the same: there is no chance for Liverpool. That means we are alone with a little belief, in a chance, not in doing it. Now we try tomorrow, we will see.

Published 14th March 2023