Jürgen Klopp: We played a really good game, but it's only half-time

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp: We played a really good game, but it's only half-time

Published 27th April 2022
By Sam Williams and James Carroll at Anfield

Jürgen Klopp praised Liverpool’s performance following their 2-0 first-leg win over Villarreal but warned that the Champions League semi-final is far from over.

Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal: Extended highlights

Two goals in the space of two minutes early in the second half ensured the Reds’ total dominance of the match was rewarded, with Jordan Henderson’s cross deflecting in off Pervis Estupinan before Sadio Mane applied the finishing touch to Mohamed Salah’s through ball.

Klopp’s team will therefore take a healthy lead into next Tuesday’s second leg at Estadio de la Ceramica as they seek to reach the third Champions League final of the manager’s tenure.

Read on for a summary of Klopp’s post-match press conference…

On what was key to the win…

The way we played and the way we defended Villarreal, the way we attacked Villarreal. You have to score goals, that’s clear, football is the same. I liked the first half already, it was clear we had to keep going. What I like most about Villarreal is that even when they are under pressure, when there is one moment they can get out of the pressure they are immediately a threat. Immediately passes in the centre and we had to put a lot of players, obviously, on the wing to try to win the ball. If you don’t win the ball there then obviously you are all of a sudden in between everything and we did that most of the time really well. So 2-0, half-time, no more, no less. 

'We're happy but there's work to do' - Hendo and Robbo on Villarreal win
27th April 2022

Reaction'We're happy but there's work to do' - Hendo and Robbo on Villarreal winJordan Henderson and Andy Robertson were satisfied with Liverpool’s efforts in beating Villarreal 2-0 but acknowledged there is work still to do in the Champions League semi-final.

On how much work there is left to do to reach the final… 

The full work. Nothing happened yet, that’s how it is. For me, it’s the best example, you play a game and it’s 2-0 at half-time [then] you have to be completely on alert. You have to be 100 per cent in the right mood, you have to play the second half like you played the first half. There is nothing to defend [and] if you do that you [lose] immediately all the advantages you might have had before. We know we go there and it will be a tricky atmosphere for us and different from tonight. Their players, you saw it tonight, they fight with all they have and what I like [is] that everybody could see that we fought with all we have. It’s always the same. If they beat us with a result that brings them to the final, then they deserve it and if not then we deserve it. That’s how the competition is. We played a really good game and now in five days we will play again and we have to make sure that we are ready.

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On whether Mane should win the Ballon d’Or…

Wow! He plays an outstanding season, Sadio is an outstanding player, I have nothing to do with the Ballon d’Or nomination and all these kind of things, I don’t understand it really 100 per cent. He is world-class and played again a really good game for us. I don’t know exactly how you come to that question now, the season is not even over. Historically you have to win something, I think, to win the Ballon d’Or most of the time. It was like this, that if you are not Messi or Ronaldo you have to win probably the Champions League, which we didn’t do yet so give us a few more weeks and then we will see where we end up. Sadio wants to contribute, Sadio wants to help the team and that’s what I love most of all. 

On whether Naby Keita is having his best season for the club...

Yes, it is his best season because he is, for the longest period, fit - and that’s good for us, that’s good for him. He is an outstanding player and that was always clear. Even in other seasons when he was not that consistently fit, he played incredible games. If you go back and watch our big games, you will realise how often Naby was on the pitch in these games. A very good, very good, moment for him.

On whether it was a ‘mature’ performance from Liverpool...

Yeah, maturity, I think, is part of quality, to be honest. I think we should be like this. When we spoke at half-time, I thought we looked in the first half really fresh, we had good legs in the first half. It is intense for us to play the way we play, but it is intense for the opponent to defend us in that way as well. For us, it was the challenge - I think how it is for all human beings - you try and you fail, you try and you fail and you try and you fail and at one point you think, ‘Come on, it’s not my day anymore!’ We really had to stay positive in these moments and really try and fail, try and fail, but keep trying in the same mindset. That’s what we did. The goals we scored were outstanding. I love them, loved them. I loved a goal that didn’t count - Trent’s cross, Robbo’s finish - but unfortunately it didn’t count because it was offside, I think. As I said, all good so far. You have to travel to Villarreal, we will travel to Villarreal and then we try to qualify for the final. But again, if we will not be good enough there then Villarreal will go to the final and that’s fine as well. I think sport should be like this, but we will see.

On whether he prefers more controlled semi-finals than ones that are end-to-end...

I never thought about that because I never saw a wish list for these kind of things, where I can choose which team we want to face. We got Villarreal and Villarreal, I could not respect more what they do. The way they are organised, honestly it was kind of a lesson for me again when I did the analysis. You think, ‘Wow, that’s really, really cool - and really good.’ And, again, tonight as well. But then, we should not forget that we are good as well. It’s like a duel on a really high level, who can push it through a little bit more. Next game will be different of course at Villarreal, a different atmosphere obviously and then we have to deal with the 2-0 lead as well. The best way is you just ignore it and go from a 0-0, you fight to win the game there. But that’s in five days’ time and we have another game in between, so I have no idea now what we will do there. I have no wish list for which kind of opponent I want.

On why Mane is playing in the centre of the front three in recent weeks...

Why him? I think that’s obvious; because he is doing very well. If it is not obvious then we have a problem. Do you like him playing there? Then, good - I like it as well. He can play left, he can play central, both positions world-class. He started for us here at Liverpool on the right wing. Some people in the room will remember his goal at Arsenal when it was his first goal, when he cut inside and fired the ball with his left foot into the far corner. Absolutely outstanding, love it. In the moment, this is a good alternative. I love Diogo in the centre, I love Bobby in the centre and then Sadio on the left. We should not be that fixed. There are different ways that Sadio plays and sometimes we want him to drop slightly more, but today we wanted him to stay even more between the centre-halves, keep them away and offer the runs in behind. There are no secrets because if you watch it back you will see it anyway. He has the skillset for it, that’s the reason why [he is playing in the centre].

Published 27th April 2022