Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool had an ‘impossible’ task before they took on Barcelona – but the Reds boss’ sent a simple message to turn things around
“Even my greatest triumph as a manager was born from a disaster,” admits Jurgen Klopp of events a year ago today.
It’s 365 days since that particular “disaster” when his Liverpool team, who trailed 3-0 from a first-leg defeat in Barcelona, turned a Champions League semi-final on its head at Anfield.
A Gini Wijnaldum brace was sandwiched in between a Divock Origi double as the Reds pulled off the unthinkable to beat Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and co on May 7, 2019, and reach the final in Madrid.
A Liverpool team without Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, no less, and Klopp needed to dig deep to find the right words.
What was truly said inside the confines of Anfield’s home dressing room will forever remain between those who were there, but much has been re-told about Klopp’s famous speech one year since he dished it out.
“Losing 3–0 at Barcelona in the Champions League last season was the worst result imaginable,” Klopp told the Players Tribune in September last year.
“When we were preparing for the second leg, my team talk was very straightforward. There was no Rocky this time. Mostly, I talked about tactics. But I also told them the truth.
“I said: ‘We have to play without two of the best strikers in the world. The world outside is saying it is not possible. And let’s be honest, it’s probably impossible. But because it’s you? Because it’s you, we have a chance.’
“I really believed that. It wasn’t about their technical ability as footballers. It was about who they were as human beings, and everything they had overcome in life.
“The only thing that I added was: ‘If we fail, then let’s fail in the most beautiful way.’
“Of course, it is easy for me to say those words. I am just the guy yelling from the touchline. It is much harder for the players to actually do it. But because of those boys, and because of the 54,000 people at Anfield, we did the impossible.”
But after a white-hot and raucous Anfield atmosphere helped Liverpool fly out the traps against Ernesto Valverde’s men, the Reds could only take a 1-0 lead in at the break.
Three more were required in the second period for the hosts to make sure they were at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1.
What happened in the second 45 minutes has gone down in Anfield folklore. Wijnaldum’s introduction, his header, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner…the images are burned into the collective mind’s eye of the Liverpool fanbase. Continue reading…