Liverpool booked their place in the 2017/18 Champions League final after a dramatic semi-final tie against AS Roma and Jürgen Klopp could not be any happier.
Although a 7-6 scoreline flatters Roma after the poor decisions to award two penalties over the two legs, there is no denying that Liverpool made the semi-final as dramatic as they possibly could without throwing the tie away altogether.
The Reds were beaten 4-2 in Rome, their first defeat in Europe this season but as Virgil van Dijk told a reporter after the game: “Who cares?” We’re into the final and there’s no amount of nitpicking at penalties that should have been awarded that can change that.
But Klopp was right to praise Roma for their bravery in the way they attacked Liverpool: “I have to start, and it’s easy to do so, with a big compliment for Roma – what a performance, what a comeback, what a brave football game.”
While Klopp couldn’t be happier with the result, as ever, the German believes his players could have done certain things better as evidenced by the 4-2 defeat on the evening.
Speaking to the media, he said: “There were always little rhythm breaks in the game and we controlled it again. But especially in the high intense moments, we had brilliant counter-attacks but were not patient enough to finish them.
“Because we didn’t do that it was clear the game stays open and everything can happen. The three midfielders were pretty alone; after 1-0, it was not the plan but we gave them a little bit. They left four back and we had three up, that was not the plan because the pitch is too big.
“They can pass, we have to run. They had all these situations in the box and we defended these much too deep. In a game like this, they should have been offside 20 times. That’s the story of the game.”
When probed on his thoughts about what might have happened had the game gone into extra time, Klopp responded: “For both teams, it would have been crazy to play extra-time, two times 15 minutes.
“I have no clue how that would have happened! That would have been really crazy. It was 7-6 on aggregate, which sounds crazy because it is crazy. We came into the competition as a qualifier and are now in the final.
“I’m really, really happy for the boys, really happy for the club, really happy for our fans. It was a fantastic ride so far and now we will go to Kiev, which sounds crazy – but it’s the truth.”
On what it means to be into the final as Liverpool manager: “Look, we were in the League Cup final and we didn’t win it. People don’t tell me in the street since then ‘thank you for bringing us to the final’.
“We were in the Europa League final. I didn’t see any trophies after these games. They don’t hang silver medals at Melwood. That’s the pity, that’s the game. So there’s still a job to do but that’s how it is.
“Going to a final is really nice – I did it a few times – but winning it is even nicer. We will be ready.”
As everyone is aware of by now, Liverpool will face Real Madrid in Kiev at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium on the 26th of May.
There are plenty of good omens for the Reds heading into the tie, with one of them being that every time Liverpool have won a European Cup, they were wearing red while their opponent was wearing white. In Kiev, the Merseysiders will wear their iconic red kit while Real Madrid will be in their white strips.
Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo and co. will have their say on whether or not omens mean anything but going into the tie, Klopp’s side will have no shortage of confidence.