Saturday 21 July 2018

'I have nothing to prove'- Liverpool boss Klopp 'ready' for Dortmund homecoming

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Tom Rooney

Jurgen Klopp concedes that Liverpool are the consensus underdogs for tonight’s Europa League quarter final against Borussia Dortmund, but upsetting the odds just to show his old club what they’re missing is not a priority.

Klopp’s homecoming at the Westfalenstadion for this evening's first leg (KO 8pm) will surely be an emotional one and is likely to add an extra layer of intensity at a stadium which is renowned for its raucousness.

When the tie was made after Liverpool dispatched of Manchester United and Dortmund had done likewise to Tottenham in the previous round, the narrative of the 48-year-old returning to a club where he is revered with a god-like status possibly obscured the fact that his new team had been tasked with negotiating one of Europe’s form sides.

Since Thomas Tuchel succeeded Klopp - whose final season at the helm was marred by mass injuries and a loss of form - Dortmund have been revitalised.

Tuchel, who also replaced Klopp at Mainz, has retained some of the latter’s high-pressing approach, while putting a greater emphasis on possession.

Unbeaten in 2016, they are just five points behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, already sure of a spot in next season’s Champions League and have also progressed to the semi-final of DFB-Pokal (German domestic cup).

What’s more, in the shape of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, they posses a dynamic attacking trident which has accounted for 75 goals in the campaign thus far.

The prolific Aubameyang (below) has found the net 32 times in all competitions and is said to be a target of Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Klopp has done extensive research on a squad he largely assembled and believes his Liverpool side, currently ninth in the Premier League, are more than up to the task at hand.

“We are ready and as good as we can be at this moment,” he said in quotes oringally published in the Liverpool Echo.

“Since Sunday I’ve seen five games of Dortmund. Each 90 minutes. And obviously they are full of confidence and playing really good, but as always in football it is up to the opponent how good you really are.

“We hope and we think we can be a real challenge – not the favourite, that’s not important – but they have a team that has been together for two years which only had a bad experience at the first half of last season which made them stronger, it’s obvious.

“They have a good manager but I don’t think I should go there thinking I have to win 5-0 so everyone can say: ‘Oh look what he can do.’ I’m really fine with the situation. Let’s go there, play well, see what we can do, fly home, and then invite them to Anfield.”

During his seven year tenure at Dortmund, Klopp endeared himself to fans locally and beyond with his now near patented wild gesticulations on the side line, but the list of trophies he accrued show a clear method in the madness.

Among them were a club-first league and cup double in 2012 and a pair of German Super Cups. As such, he does not feel obliged to prove his managerial worth by eliminating the tournament favourites.

“I have nothing to prove to Dortmund. That is absolutely not my intention. I am fine with the draw, with the game, with everything – but I am not too happy with the stories around me personally. I don’t need it but I can’t avoid it.”

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