‘Massive… outstanding’ – Jurgen Klopp praises Liverpool players after Champions League comeback
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told his players he wanted Spain to see their “mentality monsters” in the Champions League semi-final second leg and was relieved they finally showed up.
he Reds manager wanted his players to break out of the blocks and cement their 2-0 lead against Villarreal in the first leg to secure entry into a third final in five seasons.
What actually happened was they had to prove their ability to react to adversity after the lead was wiped out by debut goals in the competition from Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin.
The substitution of winger Luis Diaz at half-time and a tactical change saw the game turned upside down with three goals in 12 minutes from Fabinho, Diaz and Sadio Mane, helped by an unconvincing goalkeeping performance from goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.
Not only was it their first European semi-final away win in five attempts since 1985, the 5-2 aggregate result ensured Liverpool became the first English club to reach the final of the European Cup/Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup in the same season.
When asked what the message was at half-time, Klopp said: “Play better than the first half.
“We just explained where we need to go and be smarter. There was no flexibility, nothing, so we had to mix that up and give them some problems because we played into their hands with the man-oriented defense.”
Klopp, who equaled the record of Marcello Lippi, Sir Alex Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti in qualifying for his own fourth final, said achieving a third place five years from now is “massive. Outstanding.”
“Before the game I told the guys I’d like to read the headline ‘mentality monsters were in town’ – ‘mentalidad monstrousa’ or whatever – because I wanted us to be the ones who bet on the result and not defend,” he called.
“I couldn’t see that at first, but I did in the second half. For me it was because we impressed them coming back in the second half.
“With 500 games that the lads have played, something as normal as the first half can happen, but how we reacted and how it happened is special.
“I know fans from other clubs may have been happy with the first half and we got a ‘knock’.
“Reaching three finals (in one season) is really difficult, which is probably why no one has done it before, but we did it.
“If the final comes up on our schedule, we’ll make sure we’re ready for it.”
Villarreal, last season’s Europa League champions, tried to make their own history by reaching a Champions League final for the first time and although they were close, manager Unai Emery admits it’s no surprise was that they were not neglected.
“We put in a lot of effort in the first half and we knew it could be tough on our legs in the second half,” he said.
“We weren’t quite the same team in the second half. We couldn’t find the right strength. We were missing something special.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/champions-league/massive-outstanding-jurgen-klopp-hails-liverpool-players-after-champions-league-comeback-41613057.html ‘Massive… outstanding’ – Jurgen Klopp praises Liverpool players after Champions League comeback