Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool are underdogs heading into their Champions League clash with Manchester City.
But the Reds boss is confident his side can rise to the challenge and provide a quarter-final tie to remember.
All eyes will fall on Anfield this week as Pep Guardiola’s free-wheeling Premier League leaders roll into town for the first all-English Champions League clash since 2011.
The sides’ last meeting on Merseyside was a classic, Liverpool triumphing 4-3 at Anfield in January. It remains the only league defeat City have suffered so far this season.
Still, with Guardiola’s men all-but-confirmed as champions – they can clinch the title next weekend by beating Manchester United – Klopp is well aware of the scale of the task facing his team. City won the first game between the teams 5-0, when Sadio Mane was sent off at the Etihad back in August.
But with the Reds themselves in good form, he is preparing for a spicy occasion.
Asked what he had learned from the sides’ two encounters this season, Klopp said: “You should finish the game with 11 men! Be cool!
“We know it’s difficult. Did we think before the first game we would lose 5-0? No. Did we think before the second game we would win 4-3? No. Do we know we have a chance? Yes, that was clear before. But they are the favourites.
“In specific moments, we are on a similar level but they do it much more consistent, that’s why they have around 20 points more. No problem with respecting that, but we all know, in that game, it doesn’t mean too much. We see our chance but we know it will be unbelievably difficult.
“But if I have the choice to watch a Champions League game, I would watch this one. It’s about tactics but there will be fire, that’s cool, it’s at Anfield, so a good atmosphere to watch.”
Klopp’s side prepared for Wednesday’s game with a big result, coming from behind to win 2-1 at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Mohamed Salah, of course, was the match-winner, the Egyptian bagging his 37th goal of the season in all competitions at Selhurst Park.
Klopp, unsurprisingly, has been thrilled with the impact of the former Roma man, and knows he will be key if Liverpool are to progress against City.
“Maybe, but I don’t think it’s a proper burden,” he said. “It’s responsibility, of course, nobody told him ‘don’t score 30 goals otherwise we can’t be successful’ or ‘if you don’t score, we cannot win’.”
Klopp pinpointed the penalty Salah scored for Egypt against Congo in October, which booked his country’s place at the World Cup, as a key moment for the forward, encouraging him to kick on to the next level in his performances.
“I nearly had a heart attack [when he took it],” Klopp added. “That is why he got the next penalty at Liverpool and missed it [against Huddersfield], so that was not too good!
“We all have these game-changing moments in our life and maybe that was one of them for Mo. If you deliver in a situation like this, what can happen to you then?
“Did you see it? The best thing was how they celebrated [winning] the penalty. It was something I never saw in my life. Germany in 1990 didn’t celebrate the World Cup like this! They only got the penalty and then they thought… somebody has to shoot. Yes, that was really pressure!