Champions League final a watershed for Liverpool, says Klopp

By Sports Desk January 02, 2019

Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool's Champions League final heartache last May laid the foundations for their relentless Premier League title bid this season.

Liverpool head to reigning champions Manchester City on Thursday knowing victory will increase the gap between themselves and Pep Guardiola's side to 10 points.

When he succeeded Brendan Rodgers as Reds boss in 2015, Klopp described Liverpool's illustrious history as a "20 kilo backpack" that had arguably come to hinder the club in the modern era.

Even though Real Madrid got the better of his side 3-1 in Kiev, the former Borussia Dortmund boss believes being involved in such an occasion allowed Liverpool to shed that weight and approach the challenge of winning a first top-flight crown in 29 years on their own terms.

"I think we got rid finally of the backpack when we reached Champions League final," he told a pre-match news conference

"We didn't win it, yes, but 20 teams [18 in the Champions League era] reached the Champions League final so that was the moment when we did something really special.

"We didn't win it but the ride there was unbelievable, the journey was unbelievable. Since then it feels different."

Klopp hopes to be able to call on some title-winning experience within his own dressing room, with James Milner back in training following a hamstring injury.

Ex-England midfielder Milner lifted the Premier League title with City in 2011-12 and 2013-14.

"Experience is always good if you use it in the right ways," Klopp said. "I don't know [if] Milly gives lessons in how to deal with the situations - we are not at that point - but his influence on the team is massive, like it is with other players, but Milly especially.

"If somebody would lose a bit of contact to the ground or whatever, I don't think that can happen as long as Milly is in the dressing room. If it would happen, then I'm happy that he is there."

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    "Today we are happy but after that we have to analyse what we have done, and if we want to win in future we will have to play better," he said.

    "The way we played, we didn't deserve more than three goals.

    "We will improve in the future. We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it's difficult. They defended deep and man to man.

    "In the second half we were better, especially the first 15. Our rhythm was not quick enough in the first half, but we would take that result.

    "I am honest with them and tell them all the time what I feel.

    "We have to try and find the reason why we didn't play quicker or better.

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    "Kevin played 90 minutes, that is good news. When you are a long time injured you need the rhythm," the former Barcelona boss added.

    "Sergio was sick, and he needs time, too. They are incredible players but they need rhythm."

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