Saturday 19 October 2019

Klopp: We must be ready to suffer in toughest test

 

Jurgen Klopp looks on during a Liverpool press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match against FC Barcelona. Photo: Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Jurgen Klopp looks on during a Liverpool press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match against FC Barcelona. Photo: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Mark Critchley

Jurgen Klopp is prepared for his Liverpool players to "suffer" at the Camp Nou ahead of the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

Klopp admitted last night that his side faced "one of the toughest games to play ever" by coming to the home of La Liga's newly-crowned champions.

Barcelona are aiming to win this competition for the fourth time in the last 10 years, though this will be their first semi-final appearance since their last triumph in 2015.

Liverpool finished runners-up last season, losing the final 3-1 to Real Madrid, but they return to the last four an improved side, chasing honours at home and abroad.

"Barcelona, of all matches in the world, is one of the toughest games to play ever," Klopp said. "We've had a lot of difficult games to play and this is another one. We don't want to avoid difficult games. We want to have them, because it means you play for something and that's what we do. It's not a problem.

"Will we be perfect tomorrow night? That's not possible. Will we make mistakes? Oh yes. Will we suffer? Oh yes, 100 per cent. Will there be moments where we have a chance? Oh, 100pc. Will we use them? I hope so. That's what we try to do. I know people say that Barcelona is not Barcelona any more, with Xavi and Iniesta. It's a brilliant team here.

"We are the first year or second year in contention. They are here for nearly 20 years. It's so difficult, but I couldn't be more excited about having the opportunity to play them. That's what I hope I can transport to my players, that they feel the same. Let's play football."

Klopp is also facing a first reunion with Philippe Coutinho since the playmaker's £142m departure from Anfield for the Camp Nou.

The Liverpool manager admitted that Coutinho's absence is felt at Anfield but believes his side have coped well since losing the Brazilian midway through last season.

"I know a lot of people make s**t stories about that," he said. "Yes, we miss Phil Coutinho a lot. He is a world-class player.

"I loved working together with him, but we had to deal without him and we did well. That's all I can say."

If Liverpool are to be successful tonight, they will need to stop the player that Klopp ranks as the greatest he has ever seen. When he was asked whether he rated the Argentinian as the world's best, his answer was unequivocal.

"Messi for me," he said. "Out of all the players I saw, he would be No 1. Cristiano Ronaldo would be in there as well. All the rest we have to see.

"I coached a few good players but they didn't finish their careers. They still have time to develop. I didn't see Pele live, I'm too young for that. There are a lot of good players around but that's my ranking. Leo is for me the best."

Roberto Firmino is in contention to play for Liverpool after taking part in training yesterday morning.

"If Bobby is 100 per cent ready to play, then he will maybe play," he said. (© Independent News Service)

Barcelona v Liverpool, Live, Virgin Media Sport/BT Sport 2, 8.0

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