01 May Klopp’s ‘old fairytales’ no use to Liverpool players against Roma
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists Roma’s Stadio Olimpico is no place to regale his players with “old fairytales” about past achievements as they try to secure a place in the Champions League final.
The venue has huge significance for the Reds as it is where, in 1984, they won a penalty shoot-out against the Italian club, playing at their home ground, to lift their fourth European Cup.
While his players are entering uncharted territory heading into the semi-final second leg with a 5-2 lead Klopp, himself, has a previous successful experience to fall back on as his Borussia Dortmund side went to the Bernabeu in 2013 with a 4-1 advantage over Real Madrid.
The Spanish side launched a late comeback with two goals in the last 10 minutes but Klopp’s team held on to reach the final, which they eventually lost to Bayern Munich.
“I cannot tell the boys old fairytales that you have a manager that came through at Madrid, that does not help,” said the German.
“Yes, I would take the result if I wanted to have the same trip again but I don’t think anyone wants that.
“But we are not Borussia Dortmund, they are not Real Madrid, we are another team, it’s in a another stadium so we don’t have to think too much about that.
“We go there actually to try to win the game, not to only lose 2-0. You cannot come to a semi-final and play average football.”
Klopp admits their progress to the last four of the competition is somewhat unexpected.
But now they have one foot in next month’s final in Kiev he is adamant they cannot pass up the opportunity of a first Champions League final in 11 years.
“I don’t think that people are interested in semi-final losers, same as final losers. I could write a book about that, we all know that,” added the Reds boss, who has lost his last five final appearances.
“But the only way to win something is to go the whole way so if this team goes to the final it would be an outstanding – outstanding – achievement already.
“It is not the prize we want then because if you go to a final then of course you have to think a little bit bigger, but it would be something we could not have expected at the start of the season.
“We were not even qualified for the Champions League, we had to play a qualifier (against Hoffenheim in August) and I don’t know who else reached the semis having been a qualifier at the start.
“Of course, the boys are growing in these situations. That’s what you need as a player. You use experience.
“You don’t take something out of the toolbox and say ‘That’s the Champions League tool,’ or whatever. It’s only, we are more convinced about ourselves than we were before the season.”
The build-up has been dominated by off-field issues following the assault on 53-year-old Liverpool fan Sean Cox before the first leg at Anfield.
Unprecedented measures have been taken to safeguard the 5,000 supporters who have made the trip but there remains genuine concern there could be trouble and Klopp is not immune to that.
“Now I really hope because everybody is so on their toes – everyone sees a lot of stories before the game about what could happen,” he said.
“And I really hope that we are already over the mountain and people are now a little bit more aware of what could happen if somebody (gets hurt). That should be really massive, the punishment.”