Monday, January 21, 2019

Champions League final a watershed for Liverpool, says Klopp

SoccerNews in English Premier League 2 Jan 2019

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Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool’s Champions League final heartache last May laid the foundations for their relentless Premier League title bid this season.

Liverpool head to reigning champions Manchester City on Thursday knowing victory will increase the gap between themselves and Pep Guardiola’s side to 10 points.

When he succeeded Brendan Rodgers as Reds boss in 2015, Klopp described Liverpool’s illustrious history as a “20 kilo backpack” that had arguably come to hinder the club in the modern era.

Even though Real Madrid got the better of his side 3-1 in Kiev, the former Borussia Dortmund boss believes being involved in such an occasion allowed Liverpool to shed that weight and approach the challenge of winning a first top-flight crown in 29 years on their own terms.

“I think we got rid finally of the backpack when we reached Champions League final,” he told a pre-match news conference

“We didn’t win it, yes, but 20 teams [18 in the Champions League era] reached the Champions League final so that was the moment when we did something really special.

“We didn’t win it but the ride there was unbelievable, the journey was unbelievable. Since then it feels different.”

Klopp hopes to be able to call on some title-winning experience within his own dressing room, with James Milner back in training following a hamstring injury.

Ex-England midfielder Milner lifted the Premier League title with City in 2011-12 and 2013-14.

“Experience is always good if you use it in the right ways,” Klopp said. “I don’t know [if] Milly gives lessons in how to deal with the situations – we are not at that point – but his influence on the team is massive, like it is with other players, but Milly especially.

“If somebody would lose a bit of contact to the ground or whatever, I don’t think that can happen as long as Milly is in the dressing room. If it would happen, then I’m happy that he is there.”

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