By Adam Lanigan — Jurgen Klopp knows that the odds are heavily stacked against Liverpool turning around their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.
With a first leg deficit of 3-0 from last Wednesday’s game in Catalonia, Liverpool need one of those special European nights at Anfield to have any chance of a miraculous comeback.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are both missing, making the task more difficult, but Klopp hinted yesterday that he had something up his sleeve as he tries to come up with a formula to make life difficult for their illustrious opponents.
Perfect performance needed
The German is still lamenting his team’s failure to capitalise on several great opportunities to grab that crucial away goal in the first leg.
Without it, they must produce the perfect performance both in attack and defence as one goal for Barcelona would leave Liverpool needing five to progress to the final in Madrid on 1 June.
While the Merseyside club is steeped in traditions of famous European comebacks down the years, Klopp’s reference point for tonight’s task is in fact, a near miss of his own when in charge of Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals in 2014.
Klopp’s near miss
Dortmund had lost 3-0 away to Real Madrid in the first leg and were practically out, but in front of their impassioned support, they had the Spanish giants on the rack from first minute to last.
Although they only won 2-0 and went out 3-2 on aggregate, Klopp said at the time: “You could make a video of this game and show it to the teams that lose a first leg 3-0.”
It’s not necessarily a case of believing in the impossible but believing that they can make Lionel Messi and Co suffer and sweat for their place in the final.
“We lost 3-0 there but then at home we changed seven or eight positions,” he explained. “We won 2-0 and we should have won 5-0, without a shadow of a doubt as we were clearly the better side.
“We changed the team on purpose. We had one player, Oliver Kirch, who had only played a couple of games, but he played an unbelievable game that night against Madrid.
“But it was Madrid then and it’s Barcelona now. It doesn’t mean that it will happen again, but it is enough for me to believe.
“A lot of things are possible. It’s about how much. Can we believe at the beginning in the opportunity?
‘You need a bit of luck’
“Then we have to do the right things on the pitch and then you need a bit of luck, which we didn’t have in Barcelona. That is clear.
“We have two of the best strikers in the world not involved, so of course we need the crowd involved.
“Some things will be new, 100 per cent, with not really any time to train. That’s how it is but I am still looking forward to it. It’s the Champions League and you want to be a part of it.”
Re-jigged front line
The absence of Salah and Firmino means Klopp will be forced to re-jig his front line and it could result in a first-team debut for exciting teenager Rhian Brewster.
The 19-year-old has been a prolific scorer for England in age-group football and his manager insists he is ready for the demands of playing at the highest level.
“Rhian has now arrived with us after being heavily injured,” said Klopp. “Day by day, he has got better and better and he has been in outstanding shape for the last three or four weeks.
“It’s really nice in a difficult situation that we can give him that spot in the squad and have him there to bring on as a striker. When you’re on the bench, you are an option to play.”