Jurgen Klopp invokes memory of 2019 Barcelona win as Liverpool seek Italian miracle

Jurgen Klopp (centre) with Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk in 2019 – Jurgen Klopp invokes memory of 2019 victory over Barcelona as Liverpool seek Italian miracle

Jurgen Klopp is evoking the spirit of Liverpool’s greatest ever comeback in a last-ditch attempt to ensure a glittering European career at the club does not meander to an inglorious end.

Five years ago, Klopp convened his Liverpool players at the aptly named ‘Hope Street Hotel” and gave the pre-match rallying cry of his life before his side overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Barcelona.

Those sentiments were echoed in the Italian city of Bergamo as Klopp contemplated what message might inspire the same comeback against Atalanta to stretch his European dreams into another semi-final.

“I remember I said, ‘If we fail, then let’s fail in the most beautiful way’. And that’s exactly how I see it again,” said Klopp, inevitably reminded of that dizzying night against the Catalans in 2019.

“We want to win the game. If we want to win, we better play good. If we play good, we have a chance to win it. Then we will see. It is exactly like that.

“I usually don’t prepare these things [team speeches] like that, especially not the day before or four years before whatever. But definitely, not in the press conference before.

“My team meeting will not happen in front of the world in the press conference. If we win, the players will find a reason to tell the world what I said, and if we lose no one will want to hear.”

Pessimists will point to the fact that Klopp’s side cannot rely on the 12th man to roar them to another historic result in the Europa League quarter-final.

“What is similar? The result definitely. The performance not really,” Klopp conceded.

“We played at Barcelona and they were exceptional but we lost 3-0 no one knew how. We lost at home and now we are away so that’s a massive difference. We are here and will try to win the game, that’s all. I think that’s what we should do. We will see if that’s possible. We didn’t play extremely well [last week]. Let’s start with a much better performance and try to win the game, and we will see how much time is left at the end.”

Georginio Wijnaldum (left) – Jurgen Klopp invokes memory of 2019 victory over Barcelona as Liverpool seek Italian miracle
Georginio Wijnaldum (left) celebrates after completing Liverpool's stunning comeback against Barcelona - Getty Images/Paul Ellis

Optimists will point out that this Liverpool team will not be facing Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in the compact Gewiss Stadium, and it would be impossible for Liverpool to be as poor as they were in the first leg seven days ago, or in the first half against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

“Directly after the game everyone thought, ‘that’s it’. One week later I don’t think everyone thinks it is already decided. We are here and we can be good,” said Klopp.

In what could be interpreted as Klopp dabbling in mind games, the Liverpool manager suggested a 3-0 lead could be a tricky scoreline, referencing the last meetings with Atalanta in 2022 when his side won comfortably in Italy but lost the return game.

“But it’s not easy to approach a game when you are 3-0 up,” said Klopp.

“We had it last time against Atalanta and lost 2-0 at home. We didn’t know what to do with the first result and we didn’t fight for everything as usual. We will see who deals better with the situation. If Atalanta go through then they will deserve it. If not, then something special will have happened.”

Liverpool’s season will be defined by the next seven days, the Europa tie preceding away games at Fulham, Everton and West Ham.

Klopp was pursuing a quadruple four weeks ago. The Carabao Cup will be his only farewell gift without a huge upturn of form.

Alisson’s return is timely, and he said he found it tough watching from afar when recovering from his hamstring tear.

“It was really hard for me. I am a guy that when I am at home, injured or just resting, I don’t like watching,” said the Brazil number one.

“I want to play and be part of every game. I spent a lot of time in the gym to be in good shape and maybe better than how I was before. It was eight weeks doing double sessions, every day, sometimes three sessions. It was really hard for me. Of course seeing the team fighting for titles, I have a lot of desire to be part of that fight.

“We did in the past great things and great things in the history of football. Teams have overcome bad results and turned it around to qualify for the next round. Of course we have to believe in ourselves.”