Few fans and pundits gave Liverpool even a half a chance to come back and tie Barcelona, better yet win the match in regulation. And yet, that’s what Liverpool did.
Following Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Barcelona to advance to the UEFA Champions League Final, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praises his team for their fight, effort, and heart to multiple media outlets.
“The whole game was too much. It was overwhelming,” Klopp said to BT Sport following the match. “We played against maybe the best team in world. Winning is difficult but winning with a clean sheet, I don’t know they did it. It’s unbelievable.
“I saw James Milner crying on the pitch after the game. It means so much to all of us. It’s the best phase of football. There are more important things in the world. But creating this emotional atmosphere together is so special. It’s all about the players.
“The mix of potential and unbelievable heart is just a mix I never saw before. You have to be confident in a game like this. Divock and Shaq didn’t play a lot. Putting a performance in like that, it was so important. It shows what’s possible in football. It’s so nice. It’s really nice.”
Despite many Liverpool fans feeling miserable after Barcelona’s 3-0 first leg win, Klopp was feeling confident. He seemed to know that if Liverpool could just be a little more clinical, they’d be just fine. It turns out he was right.
Liverpool didn’t just play heavy metal soccer with a high line for the first 15 minutes of the game, it played that way for all 90 minutes, and Barcelona couldn’t keep up.
“Things got on top of us after those two quick goals,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde told reporters. “We didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet and they rolled us over really. It’s a terrible result for our fans and for ourselves. It’s really, really unfortunate, but credit to Liverpool.
“We tried to sit a little bit deeper, but the tie ended for us with the fourth goal. We couldn’t respond.”
But even with Liverpool on the front foot all night, Klopp admitted it took some ingenuity and creativity to break Barcelona down. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quick thinking and both of Divock Origi’s finishes took both skill and a confident mentality, while Georginio Wijnaldum showcased the never-say-die attitude that is a hallmark of Klopp’s sides.
“We had to be serious,” Klopp said. “But we needed to be cheeky as well. It was necessary. Barcelona defend predictable things well. But you need to be unpredictable at moments. I saw the ball flying in the goal, I didn’t see the corner. I didn’t see who took the corner. Ben Woodburn said ‘what happened?’”