Barcelona vs Liverpool - Klopp: Reds ready to suffer to counter Messi ‘threat’

Posted Wednesday, May 01, 2019 by PA

Barcelona vs Liverpool - Klopp: Reds ready to suffer to counter Messi ‘threat’

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepts his players will have to suffer in the Nou Camp if they are to deny Lionel Messi the opportunity to fulfil his pre-season “threat” to win the Champions League.

Back in August the Argentina international, in his first public address as captain, told a packed stadium before friendly against Boca Juniors he and the players had made it their ambition to win the trophy for a sixth time.

They had been stung by watching Real Madrid win their third consecutive title – against Klopp’s side – and 13th in all and Messi said: “Last season was really good as we did the double but we all felt bad about how it went in the Champions League.

“We promise that this season we will do all we can to bring that beautiful trophy back to the Camp Nou.”

Klopp said he viewed that as fighting talk and with the two teams now pitted together in a semi-final first leg, Messi and his team-mates will be put to the test.

“Messi said before the start of the season that they wanted to bring back this cup. That sounded already like a threat to me! Now we are here, we want to go to the final as well,” said the Reds boss, who when asked to rate Messi said he was his number one.

“We won’t be perfect tomorrow, we will make mistakes, we will suffer, 100 per cent. We can’t be completely free to play our game.

“I know people made out that we became better in the last couple of years and Barcelona is not the same without Xavi or Iniesta but we have been here for two years, they have been here for 20 years.

“I would say a draw would not be the worst result in the world, not that we go for it but it would be OK.

“So many people came to Barcelona and had a plan and in the end they got a proper knock.

“But there were a few who could really cause problems: we saw the game against Real Sociedad and they did well, Levante did well a couple of days ago.”

Klopp’s record in Spain is poor, with three draws and five defeats, but that does not mean he has not had success against Spanish sides.

With Borussia Dortmund he beat Real Madrid on the way to the final in 2013. That had personal benefits for Klopp as he recalled a holiday in Ibiza.

“Because I beat Real Madrid a couple of times, one day I got a full table in Ibiza,” he said.

“The restaurant was full but they said, ‘You are Jurgen Klopp, you beat Real Madrid, you’d better take it’.”

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic admits the players are inspired to follow wherever Messi leads as he is “the best player in history”.

Coach Ernesto Valverde sounded a note of caution by conceding Liverpool are a “fearsome rival” but Rakitic suggested having Messi on their side trumped that considerably.

The Argentina international has been judiciously rested over the last couple of weeks as, with a healthy lead they were able to coast to an eighth title in 11 years at the weekend, Valverde has had one eye on European competition.

Messi has still been required to come up with decisive moments – he came off the bench to score the winner which won the title against Levante – and that gives his team-mates a huge boost.

“Whenever our captain says something the rest of us are there to follow in his footsteps,” said the Croatia midfielder.

“Leo has been a league champion in 10 of the last 15 years and seeing how he lifts the title with extreme happiness, that engages everyone.

“If he is happy to win every title and win every game what can you say about the rest of us? We are even more eager if possible.

“Being able to follow the best player in history gives us a lot of confidence.

“How many Champions Leagues does Leo have? He already has won four and I don’t think he’s going to get too nervous about tomorrow.

“What needs to be understood is that Leo is ahead of us and we follow him.”

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