Klopp eyes sec­ond Cham­pi­ons League berth for Liver­pool

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER - JAMIE JACK­SON

Jür­gen Klopp be­lieves if Liver­pool can se­cure a Cham­pi­ons League berth for a sec­ond suc­ces­sive sea­son it would show “mas­sive” progress.

Back from their qual­i­fi­ca­tion in Rome for the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal, Liver­pool are at Chelsea on Sun­day need­ing a point to se­cure a top-four fin­ish.

Asked what it would mean to qual­ify for Europe’s premier club com­pe­ti­tion for a sec­ond year run­ning for the first time since 2009, Klopp said: “It would be mas­sive. It was ac­tu­ally the main tar­get we had at the start of the sea­son. You want to be cham­pi­ons ,but it was clear after a few months that would not be pos­si­ble.

“The tar­get is qual­i­fy­ing for the Cham­pi­ons League. That would be a big suc­cess. With the group we’ve got, with how we came to the fi­nal and play­ing with the big­gest in­ten­sity, be­ing ready again, then the in­juries we had, it would be a mas­sive suc­cess.

“It’s ex­actly what we want. You can­not plan for a Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal ob­vi­ously. No­body thought about that at the start of the sea­son. Of course we wanted to go as far as pos­si­ble, but my main tar­get was the top four. We worked hard for that, and now we want to bring it over the line.

Bat­tle-hard­ened

“If we do it it would show ev­ery­thing, but it’s still an if. I don’t like the word ‘would’ too much. Let’s talk about it when it hap­pens. We have to play foot­ball games to make that hap­pen.”

Liver­pool de­feated Roma 7-6 on ag­gre­gate hav­ing elim­i­nated Manch­ester City, the Premier League cham­pi­ons, 5-1 in the quar­ter-fi­nals, and Klopp be­lieves the Euro­pean Cup and do­mes­tic cam­paigns have bat­tle-hard­ened his play­ers.

“They have de­vel­oped a lot. It’s been a dif­fi­cult sea­son for a lot. In­di­vid­u­ally there have been strug­gles here and there, but we have re­ally stayed strong in our re­la­tion­ship and re­mained on track. Without that we couldn’t be here. Third in the league and in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal. That wouldn’t be pos­si­ble.

“It’s all about the play­ers, and what they did so far is ab­so­lutely ex­cep­tional. The prob­lem is that Sun­day is also im­por­tant.”

Tough

Klopp wel­comed how the chal­lenge be­comes tougher as Liver­pool be­come more suc­cess­ful. “That’s ab­so­lutely true. It’s the sit­u­a­tion we’re in. We brought our­selves into it in a pos­i­tive way.

“In a neg­a­tive way we brought our­selves into it by not win­ning the three league games against Ever­ton, West Brom and Stoke. If we had won them, it would have been slightly dif­fer­ent at least.”

Uefa has opened dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against Roma re­lat­ing to the game at home to Liver­pool.

One of the charges con­cerns an in­suf­fi­cient num­ber of turn­stiles and gates be­ing open for Liver­pool’s 5,000 fans, some of whom had to wait hours to gain ac­cess to the Sta­dio Olimpico, where Sa­dio Mané and Ge­orginio Wi­j­nal­dum scored for Klopp’s side.

Liver­pool have been charged over their fans set­ting off fire­works. – Guardian

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