Klopp reacts as Liverpool reasserts itself as Champions League power
There may be no better example of the old saying about soccer being a funny sport than this:
Whichever team draws Liverpool in the Champions League quarterfinals will be far more worried about the Reds than any of their upcoming opponents in the Premier League.
The Reds controlled RB Leipzig over two legs, the same Leipzig side with an 8-0 record against everyone in the world not named Liverpool since Jan. 30. In that same period, taking Leipzig out of the mix leaves Liverpool at 2W-6L.
[ MORE: Liverpool beats Leipzig 2-0 (4-0 agg.) ]
Liverpool held Leipzig to two shots on target Wednesday, the Premier League champions getting fine performances out of center backs Ozan Kabak and Nat Philipps and midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho.
You’ll note that the center backs played center backs and the midfielders played midfield. Jurgen Klopp admitted that Fabinho was extremely happy to be back at midfield, and as for Philipps and Kabak?
“The two center halves played an incredible game,” Klopp said, via the BBC. “The whole last line played an incredible game because that is a tough task. We had to press them. We defended deep together really well which is important. Everybody had a really good game. It was a good performance.”
Klopp admitted that Liverpool can harvest some momentum off Wednesday’s 2-0 win, a few weeks removed from the first leg’s 2-0. All told, the Reds were out-attempted 23-22 over two legs but put 10 shots on target to Leipzig’s four.
In other words, Liverpool looked like Liverpool. Klopp sang their praises for not bowing to pressure in the first leg. And this is a club that sings about European exploits as if they mean more than domestic honors.
“The biggest and best thing the boys did is let nobody see how good Leipzig can be,” Klopp said. “They are a monster usually, they are so powerful and you saw all the runs in behind, but we defended that really well. Big compliment to the boys. ... We had to switch off that Premier League stuff, to get here and to give it a proper try. The boys really enjoyed themselves tonight, which is important. We were doing the hardest and the dirtiest work because it was a big defending challenge.”
Liverpool is seven points back of fourth-place Chelsea and five behind fifth-place West Ham, the Irons having played one fewer match. Trips to Wolves and Arsenal are next, with Aston Villa then coming to Anfield before the Reds head to Leeds.