Jurgen Klopp is 90 minutes – or maybe 120 minutes – away from glory as Liverpool prepare for the Champions League final vs Real Madrid.
The German has suffered heartache with Borussia Dortmund at this stage vs Bayern Munich in 2013, as well as a Europa League final loss to Sevilla in 2016.
This time it could be different though as the rampant Reds have blown away all opponents to date and while Los Blancos are intimidating opposition, their defence has looked fragile at times this term.
Mirror Football columnist and Kop hero Robbie Fowler sat down with the charismatic manager to preview the big game.
They cover where Liverpool can win the game, Klopp’s past triumph over Los Blancos whilst with Dortmund and much more besides – read in full:
Fowler: We need to cut to the chase and talk about what the whole world wants to know: how to beat Real Madrid…
Klopp: That will be a short one, eh?
Fowler: I look at Madrid, and think, ‘Marcelo brilliant’, but maybe a weakness for them too, as it leaves space where you have strength?
Klopp: You saw it, everybody saw it, seems obvious: ‘Marcelo, what an offensive player, but… he can’t defend’. They won the Champions League twice, they are again in the final! Bayern Munich thought they were the better team in the two games, but what is better at the end?
Real need four chances to score twice. Bayern needed eight to score one. They are experienced from head to toe. There is no weakness. Football is not so easy that you can say, ‘If Marcelo (right) makes that run, and we leave Mo Salah there in that space, Salah gets in against Ramos’.
Fowler: When you beat them with Borussia Dortmund in 2013, you shifted tactically, from trying to overload on the right initially, to overloading on the left, where Ronaldo doesn’t track back.
Klopp: And Mario Gotze played man-marking against Alonso! That’s true. Everybody knew it before. Alonso gets the ball, turns, Ronaldo is on his bike already. So we played Mario man-marking against Alonso in the 4-1 at home. And it worked pretty well. But it’s not – you know this, you played the game – it’s not that easy making these things against Real Madrid. They are cool as ice.
You have a chance against them and they are not bothered. It doesn’t affect them. Have you seen them, even one time, panicking because someone had a chance against them? Ice.
They think, ‘Opponents have chances, it happens. We have a chance, we score’. Pep Guardiola said once, ‘The big teams really have a cup of coffee and then, bang, they go’. So, if you have a chance against them, you’d better take it.
Fowler: You know you can beat them though…
Klopp: Each team in the world has a weakness. We played against Barcelona at Wembley and we were on fire, we beat them so well. There are opportunities for us, we know that – and they know it as well. All the teams said it: against Juve, Real were lucky, against Bayern, they were lucky, but they are the third time in a row in the final, the fourth time in five years, so what does that say? Their experience prepares them for difficult situations, so we will cause them problems and they will cause us problems.
And, in the end, we have to be there in the decisive moments, we have to score when we have the chances.
Fowler: I have a sense that you felt, when you beat Porto 5-0 away, that it sent out the message you could win it.
Klopp: I think the 5-0 was the first time everybody went ‘Wow!’. Porto was the first time people asked, ‘What is going on there?’. Because Porto are a really good team. And that night we were really surprised by ourselves to go there and win 5-0 – there’s no chance to do that!
And then Man City, for sure. For me they were THE favourite for the Champions League this year, No.1 favourite. The way they play, they decide as a club they have to win it, and then you beat them. In the end, we are still here.
So, we are kind of this very big club with a team which can be really annoying, REALLY annoying, but with high-quality football as well.
We didn’t win anything so far, so we are of course not the favourites. But no problem with that, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to win it.
We only know, the way to do it is a lot of work for us. But we will have used the time before the final well, believe me.
Fowler: I hate to mention losing finals, but can you learn from, say, the 2016 Europa League defeat to Sevilla?
Klopp: No. This time it is completely different. Not only now, but my final with Dortmund (against Bayern Munich in 2013) too. We will be ready, that is all I know. If it will be enough, I don’t know, because it is Real Madrid. But we will be ready.
The game in Basel (against Sevilla) we were ‘dead legs’, no energy any more. We couldn’t strike back. The road to Basel and Kiev was similar, but we are now a better football team of course.
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