Jurgen Klopp has made a habit of creating history during his time at Liverpool. The Reds boss, though, would happily steer clear of his side once again etching their name in the record books this evening.
Liverpool entertain Inter Milan in their Champions League round of 16 second leg having taken control of the tie with a hard-earned 2-0 triumph at the San Siro three weeks ago.
The Reds are odds-on favourites to reach the quarter-finals for a reason. Ten times they have won an away first leg in European competition by a two-goal margin, and on each occasion safely negotiated the return.
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Indeed, only once in the history of the European Cup has a team won 2-0 away from home in the opening game and then failed to progress, as was the case for Paris Saint-Germain against Manchester United three years ago.
Liverpool, though, have grown accustomed to narrow squeaks in the last fortnight, having followed the Carabao Cup final penalty shoot-out success against Chelsea by edging past both Norwich City and West Ham United at Anfield.
And Klopp, who knows a thing or two about remarkable comebacks in European football, is confident his team won’t look to simply defend their advantage.
“The danger everybody knows about,” he says. “It’s 2-0, the lead which got turned over most often in the history of football because if you are at half-time being 2-0 up and you have a team who thinks they are halfway through, then you are already on the wrong path.
“We are long enough here, though, so we know that.
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“The first leg was a much better result than I would have expected, to be honest. The game didn’t look like we’d win 2-0 for most of the time, it was a really tough tie and really difficult game to play.
“We knew before they have quality and after that we knew they have real quality.
“It’s a challenge, we like challenges and we are used to it. At a specific point in each competition you will face the strongest teams in the world.”
Klopp cut a relaxed figure as he spoke deep within the bowels of Anfield’s Main Stand on Monday afternoon, journalists once again having been allowed to speak to the Reds boss in person following the recent relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.
Inter have only twice before played at Liverpool, losing 3-1 in 1965 and going down 2-0 in 2008. And their defeat in the first leg sparked a run of four games without scoring that was ended in emphatic fashion at home to Serie A stragglers Salernitana on Friday night.
“They come here having won 5-0 against the bottom team, but it was still really impressive,” says Klopp.
“Lautaro Martinez scored, Edin Dzeko scored, and when I saw the game I’m really happy that Nicolo Barella isn’t playing (in the Champions League through suspension) as he set up three or four goals.
“That’s a really experienced team and they don’t come here as tourists. They want to chase the game.
“And that’s what we want to do. We aren’t a team that defends results, we want to attack the game again. Let’s see what we get from it.”
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Liverpool will again ring the changes this evening for a fourth game in 10 days, with Joel Matip, Thiago Alcantara and Roberto Firmino all back in training. Firmino, though, is likely to be held back until the weekend visit to Brighton.
Ibrahima Konate sat out training on Monday as a precaution but the Reds are hopeful the French defender, who impressed in the first leg, will be available.
Despite the busy schedule, the Reds have won their last 12 games in all competitions. And while rotation has helped maintain rhythm, Klopp believes the relentless calendar should prompt fresh debate over the use of five substitutions in the Premier League, echoing their usage in domestic cups and in European competition.
“We played final Sunday, then Wednesday, then Saturday and now Tuesday – that’s actually a horrible schedule,” says the Reds boss.
“If we can make changes in decisive positions like in the machine room, midfield, then it’s possible to have rhythm.
“But it’s essential that at one point we again go for five subs in the Premier League. Even for the teams who have two competitions, it makes so much difference.
“It cannot be that we do it because some clubs think it is an advantage for the bigger clubs. It’s not about an advantage, it’s about the game.
“You keep the players in a better place and you get much less injuries definitely over the year, we will see that if we finally introduce it.
“I didn’t watch the last few Carabao Cup finals to be honest before we played in it, but this game we played was a completely different level, unbelievable intensity for 120 minutes because Liverpool and Chelsea faced each other.
“It’s great for everyone in football you can have games like this. Usually finals aren’t too exciting and can be tactical but when teams of this calibre face each other, it’s all in.
“I think that’s really good for football. And that why we need five subs.”
The last comment prompts a quiet chuckle among some journalists present, to which Klopp responds: “I don’t know why you are laughing, it’s not funny. We need five subs.”