Monday, February 26, 2024

Champions League: Klopp Hopes Unlikely Liverpool Comeback In Madrid

Juergen Klopp is not throwing in the towel but admits the chances are slim that his Liverpool side will overturn a three-goal deficit against Real Madrid in their Champions League last 16, second leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Liverpool scored twice inside the opening 15 minutes in the first leg at Anfield last month, but then collapsed and ended up losing 5-2 after holders Real produced a stunning comeback.

“Three weeks ago after the game I said that with that result, Madrid were through to the next round,” Klopp told a news conference on Tuesday. “Now we know there’s a game to play.

“(Even) if there’s only one percent chance (for us to overturn the result), I’d like to give it a try.

“We’re here to play an extremely strong opponent and try to win the game. And as difficult as it is, that’s probably possible. Not likely but possible, and for that we’re here. We respect the competition and the opponent too much not to look forward to this game.”

Liverpool head into the game on the back of a demoralising 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Bournemouth on Saturday, their eighth Premier league loss of the season.

Yet the club have often saved their best for Europe and have a history of famous comebacks.

In 2018-19 they overturned a 3-0 semi-final first-leg loss against Barcelona to beat Lionel Messi’s side 4-0 in the return at Anfield, while in 2005 they came back from three goals down at halftime to beat AC Milan on penalties in the final.

“If we can surprise in a negative way, we should also be able to surprise ourselves in a positive way,” Klopp said.

“It’s clear we’re not here telling Madrid: ‘Be careful, we’re coming’… But we’re here to try to win the game. And to win it we have to play extremely good.

“A normal game, an okay game – it will not be enough. Even just to win it – and I’m not talking about going through to the next round – we have to be on top of our game.”

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho, who had a stint with Real Madrid over a decade ago, underlined the importance of approaching the clash with cool heads.

“It’s not easy coming to Santiago Bernabeu with three goals down,” he said. “But I think it’s necessary not to appear desperate since the start of the game.

“It’s obvious that we need to score but I think it’s more important not to concede more, 0-0 at the end of first half would be a good score. We need to remain cold-headed.

“Real Madrid, how can I say, they smell the blood. If you give them any opportunity, they go and score and that’s what we saw in the last match. We learn and have to try to be less exposed.”

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