Why Benfica UCL tie brings back special memories for Jürgen Klopp

ReactionWhy Benfica UCL tie brings back special memories for Jürgen Klopp

Published 18th March 2022
By Chris Shaw

Liverpool’s Champions League quarter-final against Benfica will take Jürgen Klopp back to where it all started for him with the club.

It was in Lisbon – where the Reds will contest the first leg of their last-eight tie with the Portuguese side next month – that he decided to cut short a sabbatical from management and take charge at Anfield in 2015.

And Klopp is excited by the challenge of facing a team Liverpool have yet to play since his appointment, with a semi-final against either Villarreal or Bayern Munich awaiting the winners.

Read our exclusive chat with the boss on Friday’s Champions League draw below…

Confirmed fixture details for quarter-final against Benfica
18th March 2022

UCLConfirmed fixture details for quarter-final against BenficaFixture details for Liverpool's Champions League quarter-final tie against Benfica have now been confirmed.

Jürgen, it’s Benfica in the Champions League quarter-finals – what’s your immediate reaction to today’s draw?

Really looking forward to it. It’s a quarter-final so a tough one. Benfica did obviously really well against Ajax and that’s the situation; I know people will say we are the favourites and stuff like this, but that’s already the first mistake you could make. We are too long in the business now to make these kinds of mistakes. I’m just really looking forward to it. I respect a lot what they are doing there, it’s a massive club. I don’t think I ever played there, to be 100 per cent honest. Lisbon, a great city, on top of that – I spent my last week off on holiday [before taking the Liverpool job], I got the call from Mike Gordon in Lisbon. So that’s a nice memory as well; I was sitting in an outside coffee bar, I got the call and we made the decision actually in Lisbon.

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Benfica are one of the teams you haven’t come across with Liverpool in Europe before. Is it nice to have a fresh team and challenge to tackle?

Absolutely. Really, it’s just cool to know – now preparation starts. Obviously we have a few guys with a Porto history in my coaching staff, so maybe there’s a little bit of a feeling of a derby, if you want. It’s great, absolutely great and can’t wait.

You said recently you don’t want to have to rely on Anfield if you don’t have to, but how much of a benefit is it to be at home in the second leg?

It’s good. Of course it’s better to have the second leg at home but it depends obviously to the first leg, how you play there. That’s what we have to try, that we create a basis there that we can use then Anfield in the second leg. It’s a good one. The only thing I didn’t want to have – I would have taken everybody – but the only thing I didn’t want was an English team. We had that in the past and we went through, we played a final against an English team, it’s absolutely fine, in the final anyway you take whoever you get. But actually I was just happy it’s not an English club, not only because of the quality but because of the competition as well, we play them often enough during a season and it’s good if you play somebody else in the European competitions.

Published 18th March 2022