Jurgen Klopp is not entertaining fear as he insisted that Liverpool is ready to thwart Lionel Messi’s mission of taking the Championship League cup to Camp Nou by beating Barcelona in the semi-finals. Recall that Messi was benched in Barca’s last two matches to enable him come out more formidable against Liverpool at the semi-finals. Messi have also vested fear in the Klopp’s side after he pledged to “bring that beautiful cup back to Camp Nou.”
But Klopp has warned his players not to focus only on the Argentinian.
The Liverpool boss warned his boys not to concentrate only on Messi, “It’s not only about Messi but of course it’s about him as well. Can we concentrate on Messi? We should in a lot of moments but if we only concentrate on him there are 10 other world-class players who can decide the game as well. Messi said before the season, ‘we want to bring back that cup’. That sounds like a threat to me. Now we did it, now we are here and all I can say is we want to go to the final as well.” Klopp said at a press conference.
Barcelona play Liverpool four days after celebrating winning La Liga on Saturday, and with a Copa del Rey final to come next month against Valencia. It means a treble is in their sights.
“Leo has been a La Liga champion 10 times in 15 years and of course, after seeing him lift the cup (on Saturday) with such happiness, that motivates everyone. If Leo is happy to win every title, it makes us even more eager too. We know we’re Barca, we have to give everything and following the best player in history gives us more confidence to do that.” said Ivan Rakitic.
Liverpool is looking forward to having their own striker, after Roberto Firmino trained with them after recovering from a muscle strain. “If he is 100 per cent ready to play he will maybe play. He is here. Tomorrow we have another session.” Klopp said.
Messi is likely to be flanked by two former Liverpool players, with Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho expected to start in an attacking three.
But while Suarez has flourished in Spain, Coutinho has struggled to find his feet since joining Barca for 120 million euros in January last year.
“We miss Phil Coutinho a lot because he is a world-class player and I loved working with him. When I first heard he wanted to go to Barcelona I couldn’t imagine it would be good. But we had to deal without him and we did well.” Klopp said.
Record shows that Barcelona hasn’t lost at home in the Champions League since 2013. Meanwhile, Liverpool was the last English team that beat them on their home, and that was in 2017.
“A draw would not be the worst result in the world, not that we would go for it but it would be okay. It would mean a lot to win. It’s difficult, so many teams came here with an idea to do this or that and they got a big knock. But we saw the game against Real Sociedad and they did well. Levante did well a couple of days ago. But the better the opposition is, the higher the stakes are, and the more they are engaged. Now they are champions, they can completely focus on the Champions League.” Klopp said.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino already have 68 goals this season between them. “We need to stop them running at our defence. We are going there to score but we mustn’t lose our heads.” Rakitic said of what he expect from his team.
“We know in these ties one good game is not enough, you need to play two great games. If you switch off for five minutes against Liverpool, they can finish you off.” Coach Ernesto Valverde said.
It’s sure going to be a strong game between Liverpool and Barcelona.