Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool must deliver the perfect performance and not rely on their reputation for rousing Anfield comebacks to overcome Real Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final.
Liverpool require another European recovery to salvage hopes of a third Champions League final in four seasons after last week’s 3-1 defeat in Spain. The second leg takes place on the fifth anniversary of Liverpool’s Europa League quarter-final comeback against Borussia Dortmund, when Dejan Lovren’s stoppage-time header sealed a 5-4 aggregate win after the Reds trailed 4-2 overall in the 66th minute.
That was memorably topped in the 2019 Champions League semi-final against Barcelona but, with no home crowd, Klopp admits his players must find it within themselves to produce another historic Anfield night.
“You don’t get a comeback because you had a comeback in the past,” the Liverpool manager said. “You only have a chance if you play really good football in the present. The best situation would be if you don’t bring yourself in the situation where you need a comeback, but obviously that is not worth talking about now.
“The situation is clear. We should not concede and if we can create more than we did at Madrid, and that should be possible because we didn’t have a lot, then we will see what we get.
“We cannot just take comebacks for granted, especially not without a crowd in the stadium. We have to create our own atmosphere and we will do. Tomorrow we have one light training session in the morning and then a full day to prepare from an atmosphere point of view.”
Andy Robertson believes Liverpool’s 4-0 victory over Barcelona without Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino would not have been possible without a charged atmosphere at Anfield. “Walking out in front of 55,000 people who also believed gave us that extra five or 10%, which makes a huge difference. Tomorrow we have to find that ourselves,” said the Liverpool left-back. “It shouldn’t take much for us to get up for a quarter-final of the Champions League, and it won’t.”
Luka Modric, the Real Madrid midfielder, claimed there was no advantage for his team in playing behind closed doors. “To be honest I’d like to play at Anfield with a crowd because the atmosphere here is amazing. I’ve played here a few times with Tottenham and Real Madrid. We’re not thinking about whether it is an advantage for us. We just need to do the best we can in the circumstances we are in.”
Robertson and Klopp accept only a vast improvement on the first-leg showing will give Liverpool a chance of advancing. “They showed how good they are going forward that night, but I don’t think we showed how good we can be defensively,” Robertson said. “We need to be better at getting the ball back and not giving their midfielders time on the ball to get their head up and pick passes.”
Klopp concurred: “Their quality was quite impressive, to be honest, but you can only stop them doing what they are good at by doing the stuff you are good in at a 100% level. We didn’t do it that night, but if you do it then it is a much more interesting and exciting game.
“When we are really good then we can beat Real Madrid but we have to be really good, and that’s the plan. What we have to do is pretty clear. Everyone who saw us playing well knows what we have to do in these moments – playing like our best selves.”
In his programme notes for the game, the Liverpool manager elaborates: “This Real Madrid team has some of the greatest talent playing football in the world today. This isn’t a surprise – it’s what Real Madrid do.
“So to beat a side like this you must always strive for the perfect performance. But what we will not lose sight of is how good we are. The talent we have. The magic in our dressing room. And the character required to make special moments happen. We have the entire package at Liverpool.”