To end this season without a trophy would be considered blasphemous for Liverpool.
The Liverpool team of this season has been its best version for over three decades – or perhaps even ever since the club’s formation.
With 97 points after a stellar run in the domestic league to only fall to the oil-driven squad of Manchester City, Liverpool still stays firmly grounded despite a strong 26-point difference with their upcoming opponents in Tottenham.
In nine games against Spurs, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has lost once, with four victories and four draws.
Klopp has no intention of taking it less serious than before, and after two defeats in two European finals in consecutive years, the manager has set his sight on the coveted trophy and will not let go. After all, third time’s the charm, right?
“It had a big influence on us,” the German recalled of the defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev last year.
“I remember that situation when we were standing in the queue at the airport in Kiev on the way home, all in tracksuits, heads down, everybody really frustrated [and] very disappointed about the situation.”
This year, Klopp kept coy about his squad’s plan in all lead-up interviews to the clash.
“Everything, we changed everything,” he said.
“In all the finals I played so far we did the build-up similar. This time we changed everything. It is completely different. The only thing we kept the same was the starting time!”
When Liverpool progressed into the finals last year, it was nothing more than a mere role as stubborn starlets.
They valiantly took down the Liga NOS champions Porto, a familiar foe in English champions Manchester City and a Roma side that was involved in undoubtedly the best comeback of the campaign against Barcelona.
Madrid on the other hand, had to compete with not one, not two, but three of the very best in the continent to reach the finals.
Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, Serie A champions Juventus, and Ligue 1’s Paris Saint-Germain.
Zinedine Zidane’s side prevailed in all the matches but only because of one reason; they had already lost the league to Barcelona. This was the only silverware left and of course we all knew how it ended.
“Last year with Real Madrid they knew they couldn’t be champions in Spain so they only had to keep their rhythm before the final. That was a massive difference,” said Klopp.
“It doesn’t help always but it can make a difference. This time we both have exactly the same circumstances,” said Klopp comparing the team’s situation in Madrid from the previous year.
This time around they are the veterans up against a Tottenham Hotspur team entering into uncharted waters – European finals to be exact.
Tottenham coincidentally also lines-up with a 4-3-1-2, reminiscent of the Madrid team that defeated Liverpool last year.
With Son and Lucas up front in the absence of Kane and Alli or Eriksen in the false nine role to operate as both the creativity point and channel for offense.
Liverpool has kept to a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 throughout their entire season. Klopp’s infamous gegenpressing has been a nightmare even for the best of clubs.
However, the rigidity of the front three has caused some issues on the pitch if any of the trident’s fork’s are missing.
Enter Divock Origi.
Origi has become an unlikely hero for the squad in the last month, and his contributions for the club has not been left unseen.
“When you think about how much he was not playing, maybe you think that I don’t like the player that much or I don’t trust him too much. That is actually not right.”
“There was the header at Newcastle, that was crazy. And we don’t have to talk about the other night [against Barcelona].”
Klopp added that Origi is second in command for the striker spot, behind Firmino.
12 months past Kiev, Klopp’s men are far from what they were.
Conceding the least goals in the league (22), five players voted into the EPL Team of the Year, with a sixth European title on the line, expect nothing less than the best from Klopp’s men.
They have grown to be giants, not just giant-slayers. And for once, in what seemed like forever, favourites to win the tournament.Leave a comment