Klopp hails ‘outstanding’ first-half display as one of Liverpool’s best
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Liverpool and Manchester City have appeared so unbeatable, that they were not able to beat each other. However, it was Jurgen Klopp’s side who struck first blood in what could be a pivotal moment in the Premier League title race.
The latest psychological blow delivered by the Reds took place in the FA Cup semi-final, a mere week after Klopp’s side came back from behind to muster a second 2-2 draw against Pep Guardiola’s technicians.
Both sides have appeared to be so unbeatable that they have not even been able to beat each other. The Reds finally made a breakthrough as the Citizens, and their substitute goalkeeper Zack Steffen, slipped up.
The American shot-stopper may not play a further role in City’s race towards domestic and European domination, but his apparent brain freeze is the perfect encapsulation of what pressure can do to a goalkeeper. Within a period of seconds, Steffen went from receiving a routine pass to his defenders, to watching Sadio Mane reel off in celebration while he laid in a heap on the floor.
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Focus, quality, and the ability to completely ignore the outside pressures and focus on themselves will be the message from Klopp ahead of what could still be an unprecedented Quadruple winning campaign for the Reds. But, of course, they already know that, as this is not exactly unchartered territory for Liverpool.
In 2019, Liverpool were in a very similar position. City were within arm’s reach in the Premier League and potentially on their way to a Champions League final clash with the Reds.
While the Merseysiders were not quite tournament favourites for the competition, their appearance in the preceding Champions League final, coupled with their exceptional performances at home and abroad meant they were very dangerous opposition to face.
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Fresh off the back of their unbelievable Centurions campaign in the Premier League, City were being touted to win all of their remaining fixtures of all competitions. But confronted by the relentless City winning machine, Klopp issued his side some vital information which would still be crucial were it deployed to his players this season.
“City look like the best team in the world, that’s how it is…but that doesn’t mean they will win all their games,” Klopp said in 2019. “I can imagine people think that but it doesn’t make it more likely.
“I don’t care, I don’t bet, I’m not interested in odds. I’m just interested in our games and we cannot do more than win our games. We will try to win them with all we have…There is a lot to come and the only thing I can say is that we try everything to be really ready for that fight.”
Klopp’s first half demolition of the City winning machine proved they are more than up for the fight. His much changed line-up against Benfica coupled with his deployment of fresh players also proves he now has the squad to compete with Guardiola and co in all competitions.
While City forced a very exciting end to the contest at Wembley, City may still be wounded from their defeat at Wembley. Liverpool fans may have identified City’s upcoming encounter against a dangerously in-form Brighton and Hove Albion as the result which could swing the title race in Liverpool’s favour.
The Merseyside fanbase can certainly afford to take their eye off the ball and watch City’s fixtures with prying eyes. But as Klopp stated, that is exactly what Liverpool cannot do. Every match must be Liverpool’s biggest of the season to date. And with Manchester United and Everton at Anfield up next, it really does not get any bigger.
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