Saturday 26 May 2018

Klopp proves he can work miracles as Liverpool mount incredible comeback to reach Euro League semis

'Klopp seemed one step ahead of Tuchel at every corner' Photo: Reuters
'Klopp seemed one step ahead of Tuchel at every corner' Photo: Reuters

Simon Hughes

Within eight sore minutes, the raw reality was supposedly exposed and Anfield spiralled into a condition of inveterate shock.

Thomas Tuchel's Borussia Dortmund revealed why 'Kicker', the well-respected German football magazine, had curiously ordained them as the finest second best team in Bundesliga history.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, meanwhile, revealed why they are only the eighth best team in England and unlikely to feature in European competition again until the season after next.

Read More: 'Don't ask me this s**t' - Jurgen Klopp was in cracking form after Liverpool's stunning Euro win

Dortmund came at Liverpool with such force, it blew them away. Sometimes, analysis can be basic. Sometimes, one team can simply be better than the other, possessing better players. This was turning out to be one of those occasions.

Klopp had succeeded last week on his return to Dortmund by working on the hearts and the heads of those who used to work for him, tenderising the Westfalenstadion by appealing to emotions, dragging up the past: suggesting he was better prepared than any manager to face them because of the intimacy he once shared.

Klopp seemed one step ahead of Tuchel at every corner. It proved to be the case; that Dortmund had more to learn about Liverpool than Liverpool did about Dortmund because in the passing of seven days, Tuchel armed himself with a sharper awareness of Liverpool's weaknesses.

Directly from the kick-off, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang charged towards Emre Can, putting him under pressure, testing his confidence immediately. The Bundesliga's leading scorer, who was shackled in the first leg, then positioned himself towards the left side of Liverpool's defence in between Mamadou Sakho and Alberto Moreno. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also operating in the area, the dual presence was too much and swiftly, Dortmund's lead was by two.

Read More: Lovren completes stunning comeback

In the build-up, Klopp had warned, however, "the crowd is more important to us than the away goal." Dortmund's approach, which mixed the smooth, the swashbuckling and the clinical initially eliminated that influence.

Anfield, indeed, had not witnessed such control from an opponent since Real Madrid turned up in the Champions League and dumped Brendan Rodgers's team by a 3-0 scoreline when it could have been a lot more embarrassing.

Throughout his career as both a player and a manager, Klopp, though has always revelled in the role of underdog, finding ways of bringing better sides down to the level of the one he represented.

He sent Liverpool's players out earlier than Dortmund's and clearly, the type of fast start Dortmund had made at the very beginning was not only an instruction but a necessity if Liverpool were going to regain any sort of say over what happened next.

A wonderful second half followed: four goals and three of them to Liverpool. Having been down and out on two occasions in the match, at 2-0 and 3-1, it would have been easy to fold completely. And yet, by the end, it was Dortmund clinging on and Klopp going crazy on the touchline. As injury time approached he even tried to take a throw-in himself to get Liverpool moving faster.

Klopp appealed to the senses of the crowd by roaring Liverpool forward. He acts like a mad man in these situations. Tuchel, who'd restrained himself from pointing Dortmund this way and that, instructing tactical manoeuvres, stood motionless when Dejan Lovren's tie winner flew into the net in front of the Kop.

Klopp, well, he was on the pitch. His goalkeeping coach, John Achterberg, made it to the centre circle holding his clipboard in the celebrations.

Liverpool were through. Somehow. (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

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