Jurgen Klopp is hoping Liverpool have turned the corner just in time for Real Madrid’s visit to Anfield for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie (7am ET) – a repeat of last season’s final.
Real Madrid were crowned European champions for the 14th time in Paris with a 1-0 win in a match overshadowed by organizational failures on the part of UEFA and the French authorities that put the safety of fans at risk.
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And Liverpool, who narrowly lost from an unprecedented quadruple achievement last season, suffered from the remnants of the current season, from the local cup and 19 points ahead of Premier League leaders Arsenal.
But successive victories over Everton and Newcastle lifted the mood around Anfield and gave Klopp’s men a chance to qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing fourth in the Premier League.
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“It’s the Champions League, it’s one of the biggest matches in the world. It’s going to be a great football game and I’m really happy we’re playing it now,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference on Monday.
“If it had been four weeks ago it might have been different, but life is about timing and we may have found our feet in time for this match.
“Now we have those two results and hopefully we can build on them, but we need to play two great games to be successful.”
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Real Madrid have triumphed over Liverpool in the Champions League three times in the past five seasons.
The European champions won the 2018 final in Kiev 3-1 by the same score on aggregate in the quarter-finals between the two teams in 2020/21.
But Carlo Ancelotti’s men took their luck to victory in Paris, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois picking up the Man of the Match award for a series of stunning saves.
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“We played that final in Paris and I haven’t watched it since then until this weekend,” Klopp said. “Now I know why I didn’t watch it again. It was true torture because we played a good game and we could have won the game.
“They scored a decisive goal, we didn’t and that was the reason. You could see in this match how experienced Madrid are. How noisy they are when the other team has chances.
“They never lose faith for a second, that’s what you can learn from them.”
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