Jurgen Klopp admitted that Liverpool’s defending in their record 5-2 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions round of 16 first leg at Anfield, was at times “slapstick” and added that he felt in the moment that his team could not rescue the tie.
Klopp would later say that his mood may yet change in three weeks’ time when Liverpool travel to Spain to try to achieve one of the most historic comebacks in European football history on March 15. This was Liverpool’s worst home defeat in European football and leaves them facing an early exit from the last competition they might realistically be able to win this last season.
When told that Carlo Ancelotti, the Real manager, had not dismissed the possibility of a Liverpool comeback, Klopp said: “I think Carlo thinks the tie is over and I think it as well, in the moment. But the closer you get to the game, the bigger our chances become. Tonight, winning 5-2, [considering] they are pretty good in counter-attacking and we have to go there and take some risks to score three goals [it is a difficult challenge]. We go there to try and win the game.”
Nevertheless, Klopp said that his team could not allow their confidence at a promising start in which they took a quick two-goal lead through Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah, to be diminished. “We gave all five goals away,” he said. “It means we could have done better there. In our situation, it is really important we see positive steps and the first half was, besides the two goals we conceded, was pretty much the best we played all season. The second goal was slapstick.”
That was Alisson’s mistake – hitting a back pass from Joe Gomez against Vinicius for what was the Brazilian’s second goal of the game by that stage and brought Real back to 2-2. In the second half, there was a goal from Eder Militao and two from Karim Benzema. On how the result might affect his side’s confidence with four league games ahead of the second leg, Klopp said he would not permit his players to be downcast.
He said: “I can see that people think that [losing confidence] is understandable but that is absolutely not allowed. I told the boys that this is a result the opposite of what we wanted but a defeat is a defeat. If you don’t learn from it, and if you don’t learn the start was outstanding and was us in a nutshell [it would be a mistake].
“So if we allow this one game to be influential we are really silly. We have a few days when I will make sure we take the right things. Yes, we have a few things to improve, especially on the third goal [from Militao], massively. First goal [from Vinicius] massively. But the intensity, the effort we showed, the football was like everything we want to see. So we have to make sure we keep that. [A] 5-2 [result] could be damaging but I have to make sure that is not happening.”
Klopp said that Gomez may have picked up an injury, one of many this season to his players. He also denied that the pitch was “overwatered” – despite players on both sides slipping over in the first half.
Thibaut Courtois conceded that it was his mistake – and not the pitch – that let in Salah for Liverpool’s second. He said: “That second Liverpool goal was slightly bad luck that I messed it up. I had the ball under control and I wanted to pass it immediately but I saw that Salah had stopped so I changed my mind and tried to move it on to my right foot but it bounced off my knee.”
“Vinicius’s goal gave us wind beneath our wings and then Alisson had a moment like mine. Everyone knows that, on the counter-attack, we’re strong. We’re never beaten, we always react.”