UEFA Champions League: Emotional Jurgen Klopp hails ‘unbelievable’ triumph over Barcelonahttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/uefa-champions-league-liverpool-vs-barcelona-jurgen-klopp-5716181/

UEFA Champions League: Emotional Jurgen Klopp hails ‘unbelievable’ triumph over Barcelona

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said the 4-0 win over Barcelona on Tuesday was "unbelievable" and paid tribute to the belief his players had shown to secure the shock 4-3 aggregate win and a place in the Champions League final.

Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson, Adam Lallana, Mohamed Salah, manager Juergen Klopp, Virgil van Dijk and James Milner celebrate in front of their fans after the match REUTERS

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said the 4-0 win over Barcelona on Tuesday was “unbelievable” and paid tribute to the belief his players had shown to secure the shock 4-3 aggregate win and a place in the Champions League final. The German was clearly swept up in the emotion at the end of the game as a delirious Anfield crowd sang the club’s anthem “You’ll never walk alone” with the players lined up in front of the Kop.

“When I saw the boys after the game and saw the tears in their eyes, that’s football and they are professionals and it’s still like this,” said Klopp.

“This club touches you like crazy, it’s like you feel much more than others in these moments. It’s really great, I love it.

“It’s a special night, very special. Winning against Barcelona is obviously one of the most difficult things in the world of football. Winning against Barcelona when you are actually 3-0 down makes it not easier.

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“We had to score four goals and (were) not allowed to concede. That made it, again, more difficult. So we didn’t really think about it, to be 100 per cent honest.

“We tried to build on the performance at Barcelona, all the good things we did there, and tried to win the game step by step.

“We have the ball, we attack with whatever we have — they have the ball, we defend with whatever we have. And that made it a really special game. It was really difficult to play against us tonight.”

Liverpool took a seventh minute lead through Divock Origi and then struck twice after the break courtesy of substitute Georginio Wijnaldum before Origi got the crucial fourth goal.

Throughout the match, Liverpool played with pulsating energy and gritty determination, while still being able to carve open a trembling Barcelona defence.

“What the boys did — this mix, again, of big heart and football skills — is unbelievable,” Klopp added.

“But … we didn’t learn it in the first game, we knew it before already.

“I said to the boys before the game, ‘I don’t think it’s possible but because it’s you I think we have a chance’ — is because they are really mentality giants.

“It’s unbelievable after the season we played, the games we had, the injuries we have now in this moment.”

The German said few would have believed his team could get the result the needed to reach the final, where they will play Ajax Amsterdam or Tottenham Hotspur.

“If you go out there and ask who bet a penny on us, I don’t think you’ll find a lot of people. And then going out there and putting (in) a performance like this on the pitch is unbelievable,” he said.

“I’m really proud to be the manager of this team. What they did tonight is so special and I will remember it forever. I don’t know if it happened before and I don’t know if it can happen again. The boys did it and it was brilliant.”

With an ‘impossible’ win, Klopp’s Liverpool write their own history

Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool wrote one of the most amazing chapters in the history of the club’s European triumphs with a 4-0 victory over Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday that stunned the world of football. After a 3-0 defeat in the away leg, Liverpool’s season was heading for glorious failure on Sunday, with their 10 months of exhilarating football set to produce only a pat on the back with a runners-up spot behind Manchester City in the Premier League.

Instead, the 4-3 aggregate win means Liverpool’s season will not finish until June 1 when they compete in a second straight Champions League final against Ajax Amsterdam or Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid, aiming for their sixth European Cup triumph.

City will clinch the Premier League title with a victory at Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday, no matter what Liverpool do at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers in their final match.

But if that happens to the Anfield club, the pain of missing out on a first domestic league crown for 29 years will be eased by the knowledge that European glory could be on the horizon.

Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool team faced a near impossible task of not only beating Barcelona by four goals, but trying not to concede at home to a team led by arguably the greatest forward the modern game has known — Messi.

With the Argentine’s two goals in the 3-0 win in the first leg at the Nou Camp last week, Messi took his tally for Barcelona to a barely computable 600 goals in 683 matches.

And because Liverpool failed to score an ‘away goal’, used to separate teams when aggregate scores are level, even a 4-1 or 5-2 win would not have been enough for the Reds to go through.

They simply had to deliver a devastating attacking display — all the more difficult with injuries to key forwards Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino — and produce a clean sheet.

But that is what they did — to even their own astonishment.

HUGE TASK
Such was the scale of the task that Klopp revealed the prospect did not even feature in their pre-match thoughts.

“Winning against Barcelona is one of the most difficult things in the world of football,” he said.

“Winning against Barcelona when you are 3-0 down…. we had to score four goals and were not allowed to concede, even more difficult, so we did not really think about it to be honest.”

Before Tuesday night, Liverpool’s greatest comeback in Europe came in the 2005 Champions League final when they trailed 3-0 to AC Milan but emerged as the winners from a penalty shootout after fighting back for a 3-3 draw.

The latest great escape was something similar to that night in Istanbul when Steven Gerrard had led their unbelievable second-half comeback against a Milan side then viewed as by far the best team in Europe.

It was the sense of destiny, a phrase Klopp had used only last week to describe how this season was to evolve, which perhaps, given City’s advantage on the domestic front, was closer in his mind to fatalism.

Just like 14 years ago, when Milan froze like deer in headlights, Barcelona began to surrender, to lose their normal composure and shape, to do inexplicable things.

ELEMENTARY ERROR
Nothing was stranger then when, with the aggregate score at 3-3, the entire Barcelona defence, made up of decorated experienced internationals like Gerard Pique, switched off and allowed Trent Alexander-Arnold to take a quick corner.

The 20-year-old full-back passed to the unmarked Divock Origi who, despite his undoubted surprise, kept his composure to slot in the winner while the Spaniards stared on in disbelief, unable to comprehend such an elementary error.

But how do you explain the two-goal performance from Origi, a lanky 24-year-old Belgian back-up player who was only in the starting lineup because of the two attacking injuries?

And how can you understand the two goals early in the second half from Georginio Wijnaldum, a Dutch midfielder who rarely scores and was only brought on at the interval because of an injury to left-back Andy Robertson?

Did Klopp really not believe such an upset was possible?

Perhaps he had an inkling.

“‘How can you be sure before a game?’ I said to the boys. ‘I think it’s impossible but because it’s you we have a chance.’ And we believed in this chance,” said the German.

“We said from the beginning, we want to create our own history –- not because we are not happy about having the history of the club, no, but because we need new chapters.”

History surrounds visitors to Anfield, the home of a club with deep pride in their past and a belief that they represent to their community something more than just a football team.

“If I have to describe this club then it’s a big heart and tonight it was obviously pounding like crazy,” said Klopp.

“You could hear it and probably feel it all over the world.”

‘We looked like schoolboys’, says Suarez after Barca crumble again

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez said his team mates defended like children for the fourth goal they conceded in a shock 4-0 defeat at Liverpool on Tuesday which sent them crashing out of the Champions League 4-3 on aggregate. Liverpool forward Divock Origi got the decisive goal that completed a remarkable turnaround from Juergen Klopp’s side, netting a low pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold after the defender flummoxed the visitors by taking a quick corner.

“For their fourth goal we looked like schoolboys, we have to be ready for all the criticism that is going to rain down on us now,” Suarez told reporters after a miserable return to his former club, where he spent three years before joining Barca.

“We are very sad, we are in a lot of pain, we feel this pain even though we are professionals.”

Spanish champions Barca were the only unbeaten side left in the competition but found themselves overwhelmed by Liverpool, sinking to a second straight shocking Champions League exit after last season’s 3-0 defeat at AS Roma in the last eight.

The Catalans won the first leg of that tie 4-1 and Uruguay international the 32-year-old Suarez admonished his team for letting a huge lead slip away from them once again.

“We have to do a lot of self criticism because this is the second time that the same thing has happened to us. We cannot commit the same mistake two years in a row, there are many things we need to consider and think about,” Suarez added.

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“They (Liverpool) did what they wanted to do, which was to score early. They believed from the first minute to the last.”

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde fielded the same starting lineup at Anfield as he had played in the first leg — just as he had done in the fateful second leg away to Roma.

But Suarez insisted the coach, who has led Barca to two successive La Liga titles and taken them to the Copa del Rey final, should not face criticism for another European meltdown.

“We are the ones that played the game,” Suarez said.

“The boss used the same tactics as in the first leg and he tried to do the same thing here. You have to say sorry for the attitude and the things that everyone saw today.”

We knew unbelievable Liverpool could do something special – Henderson

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said the players knew they could turn around a three-goal deficit against Barcelona as they reached the Champions League final with a 4-0 win at Anfield on Tuesday. Without injured Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, few pundits gave the Merseysiders a chance, but reserve striker Divock Origi and substitute Georginio Wijnaldum each scored twice to secure one of the most amazing comebacks in the competition’s history.

“Unbelievable. I don’t think many people gave us a chance. Before the game we knew that it would be difficult but it was still possible of course,” Henderson told BT Sport after Liverpool went through 4-3 on aggregate.

“It’s amazing. We knew that at Anfield we could do something special. It’s a special night … they’re a fantastic team but we knew if we showed heart we had a chance to get something.”

Liverpool flew at Barca from the start and there were some spicy exchanges with the Merseyside club’s former striker Luis Suarez. One clash with the Uruguayan left full-back Andy Robertson injured, but the defender shrugged it off.

“Who’s going to the final? We are. That’s all that matters. Gini (Wijnaldum) went on (for me) and scored two. I don’t care right now,” Robertson told BT Sport.

“I’ve said so many times this season but what a team. We believe. People wrote us off. But we believed if we got off to a good start we could do it,” he added.

Dutchman Wijnaldum, who replaced Robertson at halftime, revealed that he was annoyed at being left out of the starting lineup by coach Juergen Klopp.

“I was really angry that the manager put me on the bench. I just tried to help my team, (and) I’m happy I could do that with two goals,” he said smiling.

Origi added: “It was more about the team (than my goals). We did so well. We knew it would be a special night. We wanted to fight for the injured guys. We fought so hard.”

Distraught Busquets apologises after Barca stunned at Anfield

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets apologised to the club’s fans after his side were sent tumbling out of the Champions League in the semi-finals on Tuesday, losing 4-0 to a rampant Liverpool side for a remarkable 4-3 aggregate defeat. It is the second year in a row Barca have thrown away a three-goal lead from the first leg to exit the competition, having been knocked out in the quarter-finals by AS Roma last season following a 3-0 surrender in the Italian capital.

“They were better than us, they went all out to win the game from the start and we really struggled with their pressure especially at the start of both halves,” a despondent Busquets told reporters. “I can’t say anything else, all I can do is say sorry to our supporters because, after last year in Rome, to go out like this after such a good result in the first leg is very tough, there’s little else to say.”

Barca looked on course to reach the final for the first time since 2015 after Lionel Messi inspired them to a 3-0 win in the first leg but they were overwhelmed by Liverpool’s pressure and went behind in the seventh minute to Divock Origi’s strike. Busquets said his side were powerless to cope with Liverpool’s pressing game.

“Once they scored and they pressed us high it was very difficult. I think we had the chance to score the goal that we needed but it wasn’t to be,” the midfielder said.

“When you face a team like this which presses you very high up the pitch and you don’t make the most of second balls they just keep pushing further forward and with this atmosphere it was very difficult.” Substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice in the space of two minutes early in the second half to level the tie on aggregate.

Origi then put Liverpool ahead in the tie for the first time thanks to some quick thinking from Trent Alexander-Arnold from a corner which caught Barca unawares. “The fourth goal was a mistake from everyone as we were all taken by surprise. They were more clever than us to take the corner quickly and then they played by themselves,” Busquets added.

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“If we’d have scored it would have changed everything, we had the chances to do it, now it’s very difficult to think of things to say.”