Jurgen Klopp says it is important Liverpool return to the Champions League by finishing in the Premier League’s top four after exiting this season’s competition at the hands of Real Madrid at the quarter-final stage.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Liverpool created numerous opportunities in the second leg but failed to find their goalscoring boots as Real Madrid secured their passage to the last four, where they will play Chelsea, by battling to a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
The result means Liverpool’s season will finish without silverware, but they still have the chance to secure a top-four finish in the Premier league and a return to next season’s Champions League, starting with a trip to Leeds, live on Sky Sports Premier League on Monday Night Football.
With seven games of the season remaining for Liverpool, Klopp insists his side are ready to fight right until the end to secure their Champions League place.
Asked if his side’s performance against Real Madrid gave him confidence that they can go on and secure a top-four finish, he said: “That has nothing to do with confidence, I would say I am naturally confident, but that doesn’t mean we will end up there.
“We just can read the table, we know the points, we know the situation and stuff like this. We know who we play and we don’t have to talk too much about it. I said now what we think about it and, yes, we want and we have to – and if we want that we should play really good football, what we did tonight.
“But if we want to go through then we should finish those situations off on top of that because that is very helpful as well.”
He added: “I think we are not in a bad moment at the moment; we played pretty well even when it was a late winner against Aston Villa. We played a good game against them, we played really good against Arsenal and not too good against Real Madrid in the first leg, but in the other games we were not bad.
“Tonight, a good game, so we just have to keep going. We really have to keep going, we have to keep fighting, we want to be in the Champions League next year but in the moment we still have to pick up more points than a lot of other teams.
“We love this competition and for other reasons it is very important we are back in it. We can now concentrate on the Premier League and we will. We have to work our socks off against Leeds.”
‘Defeat won’t impact us negatively’
Klopp insists defeat to Real Madrid will not affect his side negatively and promised they would be ready for the challenge of Leeds next Monday.
“That will not happen that it impacts us negatively,” he said. “We are not silly. We want what we earn. If we don’t earn it 100 per cent, then we respect the situation that we don’t get it.
“How I said, tonight if we scored an early goal this game would’ve been a different one – I think everybody knows that but it’s hypothetical, we didn’t. But it has now no impact on the Premier League, apart from that we don’t play midweeks at least internationally – I’m pretty sure Premier League plays midweeks if I’m right.
“So we can concentrate and focus on the Premier League – what we will and what we have to. But it’s tough just because we are still not in the hot seat, I would say, and we face Leeds on Monday, so that’s a tough one.
“What can I say? They are the leader in all physical stats in the Premier League pretty much, so you better run a lot yourself. We have a few days until then, we will use that and then we make sure we are ready for that.”
‘We lost the game in Madrid’
9 – This was Liverpool’s ninth two-legged knockout tie in the UEFA Champions League under Jürgen Klopp, and only the second time they have failed to win both home and away in the tie (also versus Atlético de Madrid in the Last 16 in 2019-20). Real. pic.twitter.com/7oR5lW4hWL
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 14, 2021
Liverpool could not fashion another of their famous European comebacks as, despite registering 15 shots, they managed just four shots on target as Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois remained largely untested.
But what really cost them was their performance in the Spanish capital for last week’s first leg when a poor opening 45 minutes led to them losing 3-1.
“We started the game really well. We didn’t lose the tie tonight, we lost the game in Madrid, it was clear,” added Klopp.
“If we had gone 1-0 up it would have been a different game but because of the experience of Real Madrid and their situation we had to chase the game and they controlled the game and had counter-attacking chances themselves.
“With two good performances we would have had a better chance.”
‘We just didn’t finish’
Liverpool created enough chances but they were just not clinical enough in front of goal, a failing which has cost them already this season.
“It was uncomfortable for Madrid, we were good, we were aggressive, we played some really good stuff, had massive chances in the beginning of the game,” said Klopp.
“If we used one of them, it opens up. They had already struggles, it would have increased that.
“It is a little bit ourselves this year because we had ridiculous games here we should have won, not tonight but in the Premier League, where we just didn’t finish.
“Many times Mo Salah finished these type of things. We had many situations and we could have created more because the football we made was better.”
‘Liverpool weren’t ruthless; The damage was done in the first leg’
Clinton Morrison on Sky Sports News:
“With fans in there at Anfield they definitely would’ve scored because there were times when they were creating numerous chances and they just weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal.
“You wanted the chances to fall to Salah and he had big opportunities, but you have to credit Courtois and the Real Madrid defenders. I thought they defended brilliantly.
“However, on another night Liverpool could have come away winning that game 3-0. They were so comfortable. I never thought Real Madrid were going to score They had one great chance through Vinicius Jr when Alisson made a great save, other than that it was all Liverpool.
“But the damage was done in the first leg.”
Zidane: We knew we had to suffer
Real coach Zinedine Zidane was delighted to be through to the semi-finals, where they will face Chelsea.
“We were up against it and we knew we had to suffer tonight, but in the end we got what we wanted, which was to go through.
3 – Real Madrid have faced Chelsea more often without winning than any other side in their entire history, failing to win in all three games against them (D1 L2), while their upcoming semi-final encounter will be their first ever UEFA Champions League meeting. Foes. pic.twitter.com/gBdCV3ZgTE
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 14, 2021
“I think we handled the game well, we rode the storm and can be proud of our display.
“We knew they’d start fast and they were really good in the opening 15 minutes, but that’s normal.
“In the quarter-finals of the Champions League you have to dig in and we did that and got through.”