Jürgen Klopp met with the media ahead of Liverpool's big match with Real Madrid and it's easy to see that the boss is just about as excited for the game as the supporters are. He talked about cherishing the special moments that big games like this can provide, the history between the two clubs, and how tough Real Madrid are to defend.
These are the type of games that young footballers grow up dreaming about getting a chance to play. Coaches get excited about being on the touchline, too and Klopp is no different.
“(Real Madrid) are one of the biggest clubs in the world, one of the most successful clubs for sure,” Klopp said. “(They have) won this competition I don't know how often. Super-experienced… It's the Champions League and it's one of the biggest games in the world, one of the biggest games I have ever heard about.”
Liverpool and Real Madrid have not met that many times (9) on the pitch, but given the recent history between the two clubs each match feels massive and this one is no different. Liverpool lost the 2018 and 2022 Champions League finals and the Reds are winless in the 6 meetings with Los Blancos. Klopp acknowledges that history but also says each year is different.
“With the recent history with one of us in the final and quite successful in the competition, difficult to play against, grinding results out and all these kinds of things, it will be a top football game,” Klopp said. “I'm really happy we can play it now; four weeks ago it would have been different but life is all about timing and maybe we found back our feet right in time for this game, even when I would have expected us to be ourselves as well even if we wouldn't have won the last two games because it's a different competition and you have to use this opportunity.”
Real Madrid have household names from World Football all throughout their roster. The Reds can't just focus on shutting down a single superstar, because another will just step forward to take their place. Klopp admitted as much to the media and said Liverpool were going to have to be at their absolute best to win.
“You always do try,” he said. “You try to deny passes to them, but the problem we have is a little bit like, if you can defend Vinicius properly then there's Benzema. If you can defend him as well properly, then there is Valverde or Rodrygo or whoever. If you can defend all three, then Toni Kroos fires the ball from 25 yards in the far corner, Luka Modric has an idea and goes through. Tchouameni picks up a ball and fires it from 25 yards or arrives in the box and heads it in. That's how it is with world-class teams: they have world-class players and you have to defend them collectively. That's what we will try. We need to play two super games, to be honest, to get through. But I have no problem with that. Because if you don't play your best you don't have a chance.”
You know it's a big game when a match is getting this much attention internationally. In the USA, the match will air on the main CBS channel, prompting midday programming. Some analysts are calling it “The Super Bowl of Soccer”. Jürgen Klopp is just as excited as the rest of the football world. He knows it will be a challenge, but he also recognizes the opportunity that is in front of his club to show they are still one of the best teams in the world after struggling this season. This one is going to be fun.
“It's the Champions League and it's one of the biggest games in the world, one of the biggest games I have ever heard about.”
“We need to play two super games, to be honest, to get through. But I have no problem with that. Because if you don't play your best you don't have a chance.”