Sunday, April 18, 2021


How Jurgen Klopp resurrected Liverpools Champions League dream after Kiev nightmare

A Champions League final defeat is always painful, but the circumstances surrounding Liverpools 3-1 ..

By Sunday Herald Team , in Sports , at June 1, 2019

A Champions League final defeat is always painful, but the circumstances surrounding Liverpools 3-1 loss to Real Madrid a year ago made it all the more unpalatable for those connected to the club.

The drama that unfolded in Kiev would not have looked out of place in a Hollywood script.

Gareth Bale played the role of redemptive hero, rising from the bench to score twice including *that* overhead kick; Sergio Ramos delivered an Oscar-worthy performance of pantomime villainy; Loris Karius was the unfortunate fall-guy, at fault for two goals; Mohamed Salah was the fallen hero, forced off injured and in tears courtesy of the dastardly Ramos.

In the immediate aftermath of Liverpools crushing loss to the ruthless, all-conquering, winning machine of Los Blancos, it was difficult to see how they would recover, yet the response this season has been emphatic with the club amassing 97-points in the Premier League and reaching a second consecutive showpiece European final.

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Unlike last year when Liverpool were cast in the role of plucky young upstarts, this time around they are now veterans up against a Tottenham Hotspur team entering into previously uncharted territory having enjoyed their own miraculous ascent up the European football ladder.

Liverpool suffered a demoralising Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid
Liverpool suffered a demoralising Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid last season (Picture: Getty)

Jurgen Klopp, for whom Saturdays match in Madrid will mark a third Champions League final appearance in seven years, has earned plenty of deserved plaudits for steering Liverpool into another Champions League final.

On the eve of Saturdays game, Klopp revealed that a factor behind Liverpools success in the competition again this year was down to not allowing the pain of defeat to Real Madrid to fester.

I actually decided that night that it would not really… keep me. You saw the game. It happened like it happened, What can you do? Yes, disappointment, being sad, all that stuff. But when we arrived in England again, I was already over it, he told the Independent.

I didnt think at that moment that we would have the chance immediately next year. But now we have. And thats cool.

Klopps positive outlook and unerring belief that defeat to Real Madrid represented the first opportunity for Champions League glory and not the last has rubbed off in his players, as evidenced most convincingly during their scarcely believable comeback from 3-0 down against Barcelona in the last round.

Alisson has been an inspired signing for Liverpool
Alisson has proven to be an inspired signing from Roma (Picture: Getty)

Liverpools exploits this season are partly explained by the natural progression of a group that has developed together over the past two or three seasons under Klopps tutelage and on Saturday, as many as ten players could retain their places from last seasons final.

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Crucially, the odd one out is last years goalkeeper Karius. Klopp was quick to defend Karius performance against Real Madrid, citing a concussion sustained in an off-the-ball incident with, you guessed it, Ramos, as a key factor behind his compatriots horror show.

Nevertheless, a few weeks later, Klopp gave the green light for Liverpools board to press on with a move for Roma goalkeeper and the Brazilian national teams No.1 Alisson, with the club shelling out what was briefly a world-record £67m to get him on board.

Alissons arrival has transformed what was a considerable area of weakness in Liverpools squad into a position of strength, highlighted by the fact that he won the Premier League Golden Glove award for keeping the most clean sheets in the division during an excellent debut campaign.

While Alisson might be the only newcomer to Liverpools starting line-up on Saturday, other additions have helped to strengthen the squad. Fabinho, signed from Monaco less than 48 hours after the defeat to Real Madrid, has offered tenacity and positional awareness in midfield, not to mention versatility to play elsewhere.

Jurgen Klopp made big signings for Liverpool last summer
Jurgen Klopp took decisive action in the transfer market last summer (Picture: Getty)

When Salah hobbled off distraught against Real, Klopp had no real alternatives on his bench, demonstrated by Adam Lallanas introduction in his place. Xherdan Shaqiri bought from relegated Stoke City, has proven an extremely useful and dependable impact player when called upon. Naby Keita has also beefed up Liverpools midfield options, although he is injured for the final.

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The additions of Alisson and Fabinho last summer and of Virgil Van Dijk a few months before them – moves that totalled in excess of £185m – offered definitive proof that Klopp was attempting to redress the balance of his side to make them a more rounded and efficient unit.

Ahead of last seasons Champions League final, all the talk about Liverpool was of the potency of their front three – Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. That trio remains the headline act of this Liverpool side, but less has been made of their qualities this time around which in itself is a testament to the quality of the supporting cast behind them.

Although the speed, movement and intelligence of Salah, Firmino and Mane and their ability to conjure something from nothing remains a principal attacking weapon, a key feature of Liverpools campaign both domestically and in Europe, has been the threat provided out wide from deep.

Tactically, there has been a big emphasis placed on creating overloads down the flanks and whipping crosses in with both full-backs – Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right – virtually doubling up as wingers.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has provided three assists in the Champions League
Trent Alexander-Arnolds pinpoint deliveries from wide areas have been Read More – Source [contf] [contfnew]

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