Jurgen Klopp

Klopp ‘couldn’t be more proud’ of Liverpool’s 97-point season

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By any measure other than “Did you win the title?”, Liverpool’s 2018-19 Premier League campaign was a massive success.

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings of the 2018-19 season ]

After finishing 25 points behind last season’s champions, Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds closed the gap by 24 points by posting the third-highest points total in PL history this season. The only problem with that, of course: the gap remained at one point, thus Liverpool finish as runners-up despite losing just one game all season, to Man City.

[ WATCH: Man City celebrate 2018-19 Premier League title ]

Could Klopp and Co., have done anything more (i.e., been not “close to perfection,” but actually perfect)? (quotes from the BBC):

“Not really. I know people will find something and say a point here or three. We had lucky moments, City had lucky moments — against Burnley and us. But we scored a strange goal against Everton and a late one against Newcastle.

“It’s not about outplaying everyone, it’s about keeping believing and staying in the race. City found it difficult to get rid of us, and we couldn’t get rid of them.

“Being second in the Premier League isn’t what we wanted tonight, but we’ll take it. This is a first step, that’s how we see it. The team who played the last couple of weeks were together last year apart from Alisson.

“We were 25 points off [Man City] last season. If we do those same steps again, that will be a season. The boys deserve 100 percent. Congratulations to Manchester City, they played a good season. They took 198 points in two seasons. Not bad.”

“We tried everything to make it as difficult as possible, but not difficult enough. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys.

“It’s incredible what they did all season, and today was a strange situation. We were really good until 1-0, what happened then was clear. You can’t tell the people to calm down. At that moment [when Liverpool fans celebrated Brighton’s goal], it was a shock for everyone and Wolves were there. We had to fight. In the end, we scored two and kept a clean sheet. It’s nice, but not how we wanted it.

“It’s clear we had to work hard, and City, too. Our target during the week was to get 97 points, we got that — that’s special. We want to write our own history, and we did. Today feels not so good, but we have plenty of time to prepare for an important game in three weeks.”

That “important game in three weeks” is, of course, the Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur. All is not lost for Liverpool, who could still finish the season by lifting the one trophy which has eluded Man City — the trophy they desire the most.

Premier League preview: Liverpool v. Wolves

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  • Liverpool has not lost a home PL match since Apr 23, 2017
  • Wolves has secured the best PL finish by a promoted club since 2001
  • LFC is unbeaten in home finales since a famous loss to Arsenal in 1989

As if hoping Brighton achieves a result against the Manchester City juggernaut, an extremely dangerous Wolves side stands in the way of Liverpool and any chance at a Premier League title as the two meet at Anfield on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

In order to win the title, Liverpool must win at all costs, plus see Man City drop points as well. It’s that simple – yet not at all. Wolves has been a thorn in the side of every top team in the league this season, having beaten all four of the Premier League’s representatives in European finals this season. Wolves’ win over the Reds came back in early January in the FA Cup, while Liverpool won the previous league meeting 2-0 just before Christmas.

The Reds are expected to have Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson available in the league finale after both picked up injuries during the midweek Champions League comeback. Mohamed Salah is expected to be in play as well despite his concussion that left him on the sidelines midweek. Roberto Firmino is still not healthy, but should be ready to go for the Champions League final.

For Wolves, who sit in seventh and are locked into that spot in the table, they could have an unchanged side for the 15th time this season, quite a remarkable bill of health in a league where injuries have decimated other squads.

There is one other ending scenario, however unlikely, that bears mentioning: should Liverpool and Wolves draw, and Manchester City is unfathomably beaten by four goals, the two teams would tie atop the Premier League table and there would be a one-match playoff to determine the title. One can dream!

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on their mentality: “It was a week of miracles, of big football moments, and from our point of view if there could be a big football moment on the weekend, that would be nice. The week is not over yet. Sunday still counts, so we still go for it. Nothing changed, we knew it before. The only thing we can do is win the game.”

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santos on playing with nothing on the line: “We don’t think about other things. We prepare ourselves in exactly the same way as we always do. There is no exception. There was no game that we didn’t prepare the same way with the same details and the same approach, so we’re not going to change in the last game of the season.”

Prediction

As much as Liverpool fans want to take their chance at winning a Premier League title seriously, there is also some pragmatism involved here as well. Should the Reds make it halfway through and see Man City is rolling over Brighton, Jurgen Klopp will no doubt take a sensible approach to this match knowing a Champions League final is looming and the squad can’t take any more hits. That seems the most likely scenario, as the two sides play to a relatively uneventful 1-1 draw after Klopp shuts it down with 30 minutes to go and Wolves has little to play for.

Thrilling comeback proves Klopp, Liverpool perfect fit

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An unbelievable comeback. Tears at the final whistle. Celebrations and fist pumps with the fans at Anfield. Singing ”You’ll Never Walk Alone” together in jubilation.

This is why Jurgen Klopp was hired by Liverpool Football Club. He gets them and they get him. It is a match made in heaven.

Liverpool have now reached their third European final in four seasons under Klopp, with the German coach has reached his third in his last six seasons. Both Klopp and Liverpool live and breath for European glory.

The historic 4-0 comeback win against Barcelona in the second leg of their semifinal epitomized everything that is great about Klopp and this incredible Liverpool side he has created.

“A special night. Winning against Barcelona is one of the most difficult things in the world of football,” Klopp told reporters after the game. “Winning against Barcelona when you are 3-0 down, when you have to score four and are not allowed to concede, is even more difficult, so we did not really think about it… It was really difficult to play against us with a mix of big heart and football skills. That was beautiful. I told the boys before the game it was not really possible but because you have the mentality of giants we have a chance. To produce a performance like that is unbelievable. What they did is so special. I will remember it forever and I don’t know if it will happen again.”

From day one Klopp and Liverpool were a perfect fit. I remember being in the press conference room at Anfield when he was unveiled and his enthusiasm lit up the room despite the daunting task ahead. He has led this rebuild from the front and has used the energy of every single fan to help fuel their incredible Champions League runs and league form over the past 12 months.

His passion is infectious and it hasn’t wavered despite ups and downs along the way in building this now imperious, emotionally charged machine of a team.

The German coach has rallied Liverpool’s passionate fans from the sidelines game after game and his full throttle, flat out philosophy has woven itself seamlessly into the fabric of the club. He speaks as if he was born and bred and Liverpool. He truly understands what it means to be their manager.

This unbelievable result against Barca was as much about Klopp as his players. As Jose Mourinho said as a pundit on beIN Sport, Klopp has created this connection with the fans and players which made such an impossible result possible.

The amazing 4-0 win, without stars Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino due to injury, was the culmination of all his work on the training ground, his hugs and his constant positivity.

He has created an aura about Liverpool which seems unlikely to weaken anytime soon. Even if they don’t win a trophy this season, they are where fans dreamed they would be when Klopp arrived in October 2015.

They are 90 minutes away from being crowned Kings of Europe, again, and if Man City slip up on Sunday they could well head to the Champions League final as champions of England for the first time in 29 years.

Klopp has now reached four major finals since taking charge of Liverpool and they’ve lost the last three. But this season the togetherness, the spirit, the determination, it’s on another level.

Liverpool will head to Madrid for the final on June 1 as the favorites to win the Champions League, and that would secure a sixth European title, extending their own record as England’s most successful club in continental competitions.

Klopp knows his Liverpool side are capable of  writing a new chapter into the incredible history of the club.

“The plan was to go to Madrid and get it in there and now we go there in three weeks time,” Klopp said. “We are really looking forward to that. We want to create our own history, not because we are not happy with the history of the club but because we want a new chapter. I know what people say about me and losing finals but it is the fourth final in my time here and that is really special. Last year we felt we have to go back, we cannot let it stand like this. I am not sure it will happen again it is so special. I saw the boys with tears in their eyes. You feel much more than other clubs in these moments.”

That last sentence is precisely why Klopp and Liverpool are perfect for one another.

Naby Keita groin injury to sideline him for two months

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Naby Keita‘s groin problem picked up in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal loss to Barcelona is as bad as feared, and will add the 24-year-old to the growing list of big names set to miss the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with late season injuries.

Keita was forced off in the 24th minute of Wednesday’s match at the Camp Nou, and on Friday Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp confirmed his midfielder suffered a torn adductor muscle that will keep him out of action for two months.

“It is a high grade adductor injury where the tendon is ruptured, which keeps him out for at least, I would say two months,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Newcastle on Saturday. “So bad news for us obviously but bad news for Guinea as well, because Africa Cup of Nations is coming up.”

Keita has become a key player for the Guinea national team, a regular in the squad since his introduction in qualifying for the 2015 AFCON tournament. He has missed just six matches since his debut in September of 2014, but will now be forced out of this summer’s tournament which begins on June 22. Guinea has been drawn into Group A with Nigeria, Madagascar, Burundi.

“[Keita’s injury is] not a really good moment, but it happened. Sometimes football and life aren’t too nice, but yeah, very serious,” Klopp said.

He joins a growing list of important players who have picked up late-season injuries that will keep them out of the competition, including Manchester United and Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly and Leicester City’s Ghanan midfielder Daniel Amartey.

Klopp can only shrug at Barcelona performance versus game Liverpool

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Fittingly, Jurgen Klopp‘s post-match comments might just sum up the Liverpool experience in Barcelona as well as anyone.

The Reds fell 3-0 to Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Barca in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal on Wednesday, a score line that hardly tells the story of the night.

[ RECAP: Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool ]

Liverpool had more shots, a bit more of the ball, and — finish aside — played about as well as any opponent is going to play at the Camp Nou. Mohamed Salah hit the post and Sadio Mane sailed a good first half chance over the bar.

On the other side, Suarez made his first chance count with a clever finish, and Messi followed a rebound off the cross bar to pay dirt before spinning an ethereal free kick past Alisson Becker.

Final score: 3-0.

Klopp would later explain the win in more tactical terms, but here’s his overall, undebatable point:

“Football is like this,” Klopp said. “It’s about scoring goals, and they scored three and we scored none. Our performance was really good, the boys played a super game. But against Barcelona just a few opportunities can be enough.”

Klopp hit a lot of the right notes, only showing a little bitter taste when he passively-aggressively complimented Barcelona’s fouling and staying down after fouls.

And he’s got his finger on the pulse of the game.

“Going out for the second half, I don’t know if we can play much better. But they had one moment against the crossbar and then Lionel Messi’s there for an easy goal, and the other one is a wonder strike. It was unsaveable.”

He also said they are turning their attention to Newcastle which is, let’s be honest, not great for Newcastle (even with Rafa Benitez‘s men in okay form).

It was unsaveable (sp).