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Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool can now unleash a “surprise weapon” against Real Madrid



Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp confident Anfield crowd can finally impress against Real Madrid in Champions League

Jurgen Klopp rules out four Liverpool players ahead of Newcastle game

If Real Madrid and Liverpool have become uncomfortably familiar in recent years, there is one aspect that the Spaniards will largely be unaccustomed to.

And the Reds are hoping the element of surprise can play to their advantage tonight as they once again face their increasingly regular rivals in the Champions League.
Liverpool and Real Madrid are meeting in Europe’s top knockout competition for the fourth time in six seasons, with Jurgen Klopp’s side having faltered on each of the previous three occasions.

Most recently, of course, was the final in Paris last season, when off-pitch chaos overshadowed a match in which Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was man of the match, said much about the pattern of the demoralizing defeat for 1-0 by the Reds . . The La Liga side had won the final 3-1 in Kyiv four years earlier, then beat Liverpool over two legs in 2020/21 with a 3-1 home win followed by a 0-0 draw at Anfield. Those final two games were played behind closed doors during the pandemic era. Indeed, Real chose to play their home games on their training ground while the Bernabeu was under reconstruction.

The stadium will still not be fully operational when Liverpool visit next month. And while Anfield itself is undergoing refurbishments, it won’t affect the 54,000-strong sellout crowd that greets the teams tonight.
“Hopefully it helps,” says Klopp of a full Anfield. “I know our people will give absolutely everything and I can’t wait to play. But going to the Bernabeu is tough and we don’t even have an advantage yet, so it will be the toughest job.”

“But who cares? It’s the Champions League, one of the biggest games in the world, at least one of the biggest games I’ve ever heard of, and with recent history with one of us in the final and some moderate success in competition, grinding results, it will be a top competition.

“You always work so hard to qualify for the Champions League, so I really think you should cherish these moments. “Expect Anfield to be on their toes. People are really happy to have seen us in better shape in the last two games, so there’s more to look forward to. Let’s go back together again.”

The atmosphere at Anfield has been much debated this season, hampered in part by an understandable hangover from the events in Paris last May and Klopp’s side struggling to regain form.

However, last Monday’s win over Everton brought about a significant shift in sentiment, which was no doubt reinforced by last weekend’s victory at Newcastle United. Where Anfield was overpowered weeks ago, there will now be a real sense of anticipation.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is of course no stranger to the power of the stadium, having lost there as manager of Chelsea, Napoli and Everton. And while Luca Modric and Karim Benzema have won at Anfield, a European evening there will be unprecedented for many opponents.
Liverpool have played at home six times under Klopp in the first leg and have progressed each time – Villarreal last year, Porto and Bayern Munich in 2019, Manchester City and Roma in 2018 and Manchester United in 2016. Since 1991, the Reds have only been knocked out five times from 22 draws in their first appearance at Anfield.

Benzema scored twice as Real won 3-0 in a Champions League group game in 2014 and, curiously, it was the last time an away team won the manslaughter , ordering Liverpool to head for Kop in the first half and then win the game. Everton were the latest to try to disrupt the Reds’ natural approach in home games last week but were clearly beaten 2-0. Klopp will have to make a late call on the fitness of Darwin Nunez, who suffered a shoulder problem at Newcastle. Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota are ready to step up their attack as Naby Keita pushes for a recall to midfield.

“There is a story (with Real Madrid),” admits Klopp. “Over the last few years one of us has always been in the final one way or another, or so it feels, and if you want to go to the final you usually have to us or kick them out. This time we’re playing against each other. Let’s see who comes through. “

Then Anfield waits. And in an increasingly regular rivalry, it could prove the surprise looming for Klopp and his players.