03 May Jurgen Klopp praises Liverpool squad after reaching Champions League final
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed the “exceptional” achievement of his side in reaching the Champions League final.
Despite a chaotic 4-2 defeat against Roma in the Stadio Olimpico the Reds set up a meeting with the reigning champions in Kiev next month thanks to a 7-6 aggregate win.
Sadio Mane’s 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum’s first away goal in almost three years were sandwiched between a James Milner own goal in the first half before Edin Dzeko and then Radja Nainngolan with two – including a penalty with the last kick of the game – turned the result but not the tie around.
It sets up a repeat of the 1981 final against Real Madrid, the 12-time winners who have lifted the trophy in three of the last four seasons.
“Do we have the widest squad in world football in the moment? No. We don’t have it. That is quite difficult but that this group went to final is exceptional,” said Klopp.
“All the knocks over the season, and stuff like that and we still have to carry on. We cannot say we are already qualified for the Champions League (for next season).”
It will be the third final Klopp has led the side to in three years but having lost the last two – making it five in total for him personally – he knows they need to put silverware back in the cabinet.
“We were in a League Cup final, we didn’t win it. People don’t tell me in the street since then: ‘Thank you for bringing us to the final’,” he added.
“We were in Europa League final, nobody tells me that. I see no trophies after these games. They don’t hang silver medals at Melwood. That’s the game.
“There’s still a job to do but that’s how it is. Going to a final is really nice but winning is even nicer.
“We will be ready then but is Real Madrid. You cannot be more experienced in this competition than (12-time winners) Real Madrid.
“I think 80 per cent of the team of Real Madrid played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together.
“They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire.
“We have to play two more Champions League semi-finals in the Premier League, that’s the first job to do, but we have two weeks to prepare for the final and we will use that time.”