Klopp Urges Liverpool To Show Madrid Who’s Boss In Champions League Final

In this file photo, Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 13, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to show they can more than match Real Madrid as the European giants collide in a Champions League final on Saturday for the second time in five seasons.

Real were too strong when the sides meet in Kyiv in 2018, but Klopp’s men bounced back to become European champions a year later and are now in their third final under the German.

Liverpool will join AC Milan as the second most successful club in European Cup history with seven titles if they lift the trophy at the Stade de France.

Madrid are well out in front as the kings of Europe with 13 titles, but Klopp is keen for Liverpool not to be cowed by history being on the Spanish champions’ side.

“If you look at the history of the club, if you look at the experience of the other team, the way Real Madrid celebrate the comebacks, I would say it’s Real Madrid (who are favourites) because of experience,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“But I want us to be on the same level, thinking on the same level. I want us to be us in this game.”

Madrid have needed stirring fightbacks to see off Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to get back to the final for the first time in four years.

Liverpool’s path to Paris has been more serene as they prepare for their 63rd game of the season.

Klopp’s men have already won the League Cup and FA Cup and missed out on the Premier League title by a single point to City.

“Once in my life someone told me the more often you win something the more likely it gets you will not win it anymore,” added Klopp. “I’m not sure Real Madrid thinks like that but I have that dream a little bit that it’s the case.

“We obviously played some really, really good stuff this season. We are not here by surprise or we got a ticket or something like that -– we deserved it.

“Being us on the highest level would be cool. If we could do that then we are a really uncomfortable opponent.

“We can talk about what Real Madrid achieved in the past and this season, how good their players are, we probably could write a book together now about this team. But we are good as well and that’s what we want to show.”

READ ALSO: Courtois Ready For Penalties Against Liverpool: ‘It’s A Moment To Shine’

Right Side Of History 

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Madrid also already have silverware to show for their season as they cruised to the La Liga title.

“We are very close to achieving the maximum,” said Carlo Ancelotti ahead of his record-breaking fifth Champions League final as a coach.

Ancelotti won Real’s long-awaited 10th European Cup in his debut season during his first stint in charge at the Bernabeu in 2014.

Thibaut Courtois was on the opposing side that night in Lisbon as the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper and the Belgian is looking forward to being on the right side of history in his first Champions League final since.

“We know when Real Madrid play in finals they win them,” said Courtois. “Now I’m on the right side of that.”

Madrid have enjoyed a more relaxing build-up after sealing the Spanish title nearly a month ago.

But Liverpool are hopeful of having a fully-fit squad to choose from.

Midfielders Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara were doubtful due to muscle injuries, but both returned to training this week and are in contention to start.

AFP

Liverpool And Real Madrid Ready For Champions League Final Rematch

In this file photo, Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Rodrygo (C) vies with Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (L) and Liverpool’s Scottish defender Andrew Robertson during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 14, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Liverpool and Real Madrid meet in the Champions League final for the second time in five years in Paris on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp’s side aiming to end the season with a trophy treble while the Spanish giants will look to Karim Benzema to inspire them to a 14th European Cup victory.

A crowd of 80,000 will be inside the Stade de France for the final, which kicks off at 9 pm in Paris (1900 GMT), including around 20,000 supporters of each side who have officially got their hands on precious tickets for the game.

The final promises to be a fitting climax to the European season, with Liverpool looking to win a second Champions League in four seasons since losing 3-1 to Real in Kyiv in 2018 when Mohamed Salah went off injured in the first half and Gareth Bale scored twice for the Spaniards.

Victory would round off a campaign in which Liverpool won the English League Cup and FA Cup, and finished just a point behind champions Manchester City in the Premier League.

“If you are a football person you know what my boys did so far this season was exceptional,” Klopp said on Friday.

“But we all know you are judged by the colour of the medal after a game.

“I’m more than happy and proud of what we did so far, it’s really special. I will feel better if we win the game and that’s all that I am concerned about,” added Klopp, who has been boosted by the news that midfield duo Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara are fit to play.

 Seventh heaven? 

The Anfield club can win their seventh European Cup, a tally that would see them go level with AC Milan and leave only Real with more victories.

Indeed Madrid are looking to win their fifth Champions League in nine seasons and, ominously, have won on all of their last seven final appearances.

While Liverpool saw off Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal in the knockout rounds, Carlo Ancelotti’s Real produced a series of memorable comebacks to beat Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and then Manchester City.

“It is a great success for all of us to be here. We know very well the demands at this club, the history, but for us to get here is huge,” said Ancelotti, who last year was in charge of Liverpool’s local rivals Everton.

“We are convinced that the season has already been very, very good but now we are very close to getting the big one.”

Liverpool look to have the stronger side on paper, with Alisson in goal, Virgil van Dijk marshalling their defence and Salah and Sadio Mane leading their attack.

Yet Real are pinning their hopes on Karim Benzema, the 34-year-old Frenchman who has 15 goals in the competition this season.

Eyes on Benzema 

He has scored 44 times altogether this season to lead Real to the Spanish title and is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.

“He is for sure one of the best players in the world, probably the best forward in the world, and I’m sure the most underestimated player maybe in history,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told AFP on Friday when asked about Benzema.

“He has more personality and leadership on and off the field now but what has not changed is his quality and he remains as humble as ever,” said Ancelotti, who won the 2014 Champions League with Real in his first spell as coach.

Ancelotti can become the first coach to win the Champions League four times, having also triumphed with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007 — he is currently level on three wins with Zinedine Zidane and Bob Paisley.

 Fans descend on Paris

This will be the third final between the clubs, who also met in Paris in 1981, when the English side triumphed thanks to Alan Kennedy’s goal at the Parc des Princes.

This final — which will be refereed by Frenchman Clement Turpin — is only being played in Paris after Saint-Petersburg was stripped of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There is some concern about the new pitch at the Stade de France which was only laid this week after the venue was used for a concert last weekend — Klopp suggested playing on a brand new surface was “obviously not the best news”.

Around 40,000 Liverpool fans without tickets for the game are also expected to be in Paris, while around seven thousand police will be on duty as part of a massive security operation.

AFP

Liverpool Eye Revenge Against Real Madrid In Champions League Final Rematch

In this file photo, Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Rodrygo (C) vies with Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (L) and Liverpool’s Scottish defender Andrew Robertson during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on April 14, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are seeking to cap a remarkable season by avenging their 2018 defeat against Real Madrid when the sides meet again in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday, but the Spanish giants have their sights on a 14th European Cup triumph.

It is Liverpool’s third Champions League final in five seasons after they followed their 3-1 loss to Real in Kyiv by beating Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid a year later, and they are widely seen as slight favourites at the Stade de France to become kings of Europe for a seventh time.

That would put them level with AC Milan, with only Saturday’s opponents having won the trophy more often, and it would allow the Anfield club to finish the campaign with a treble after they lifted the English League Cup and FA Cup.

“Winning trophies, there is no better feeling,” admitted Liverpool’s Andy Robertson this week.

READ ALSOChelsea Sale Gets Green Light From UK Government

For a long time, an unprecedented quadruple was on, but Klopp’s side fell just short in the Premier League, finishing a point behind Manchester City.

“Without the Champions League, it would be a great season. With the Champions League it would be a fantastic season,” said Klopp.

It has already been a memorable few years for Klopp’s side following their loss in Kyiv, when Mohamed Salah was forced off injured in the first half, Lorius Karius endured a nightmare in goal, and Gareth Bale’s brilliance won the trophy for Real.

“I think it is revenge time,” Salah, scorer of 31 goals this season, admitted recently.

Liverpool appear well placed given how much they have strengthened since 2018, chiefly in goal with the arrival of Alisson, while Thiago Alcantara has been a standout in midfield.

Ancelotti Targets Number Four

The problem is that you could be forgiven for thinking that Real’s name is on the cup, as it has literally been so many times before.

While Liverpool saw off Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal in the knockout rounds, it is easy to forget now that Carlo Ancelotti’s Real side lost at home to Sheriff Tiraspol in the group stage, such has been their extraordinary run since.

They were 2-0 down on aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 before a Karim Benzema hat-trick in 17 second-half minutes in the second leg took them through.

Against Chelsea in the quarter-finals they scored late at home in the return leg to force extra time before Benzema got their winner.

The best was saved for the semi-final against Manchester City when they went into the 90th minute of the second leg needing two goals just to force extra time. They duly got them, and Benzema then struck the winner.

The 34-year-old Frenchman now leads Madrid into the final in his home country after a campaign in which he has scored 44 goals, with 15 in Europe and 27 on their run to the Spanish title.

Benzema will surely be nailed on to win the Ballon d’Or if his club triumphs in Paris, where victory would also help Real supporters get over Kylian Mbappe’s decision to snub them.

Madrid are chasing their fifth Champions League in nine seasons, a run that began when they beat Atletico Madrid in Lisbon in 2014.

Benzema was in that team, as was Luka Modric, while Ancelotti was the coach in his first spell in charge.

The veteran Italian can now become the first coach to win the Champions League four times, having also triumphed with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007.

Security Operation

The latter victory came against Liverpool and was revenge for the Anfield club’s win over Ancelotti’s Milan in Istanbul in 2005.

“Playing a final with them is something special. They have won six Champions Leagues, and if they reach seven they would go level with Milan, so I have extra motivation to win this final,” smiled Ancelotti, who had a spell as boss of Liverpool’s local rivals Everton before returning to Madrid.

This will be the third final between the clubs, who also met in Paris in 1981 — then the English side were victorious thanks to Alan Kennedy’s goal at the Parc des Princes.

This final was not supposed to be played here, but Paris stepped in after UEFA stripped Saint-Petersburg of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A crowd of 80,000 will fill the Stade de France, with 20,000 fans of each team officially in attendance.

Around 40,000 more Liverpool fans are expected to travel to Paris without tickets, however, and around seven thousand police will be on duty as part of a massive security operation.

AFP

Salah And Son Heung-Min Share Premier League Golden Boot

A photo combination of Son and Salah holding their gongs.

 

Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min shared the Premier League Golden Boot on Sunday after both forwards scored on the final day of the season.

South Korea’s Son netted twice in Tottenham’s 5-0 win at Norwich to move to 23 goals — one clear of Salah, but the Egypt forward struck late in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at home to Wolves.

Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo finished third with 18 goals in his first season back in the Premier League.

Salah’s goal was ultimately in vain as Jurgen Klopp’s team finished one point behind Manchester City, who scored three goals in five minutes to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

Tottenham’s win secured a fourth-place finish, meaning they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

Son, 29, said it was “incredible” to have the award.

“I can’t believe it,” he told the BBC. “I got really emotional. I dreamed of it as a child. Literally it’s my in hands. I can’t believe it.

“Until my goal I was really frustrated that I missed big chances. I told the players I missed the easiest chances and scored one of the toughest ones.

“I didn’t give up. I wanted to score today. The team helped me a lot at half-time. They wanted to help me, you could see it today.”

Spurs manager Antonio Conte was delighted to see club and individual ambitions realised with the rout of the Canaries at Carrow Road.

“This was our target,” he told the BBC.

“First to get in the Champions League but then when there was a chance to help Sonny reach the top scorer, we enjoyed it,” the Italian added.

“I have seen his team-mates try to help him. The award is for Son but it’s for the whole team. They helped him reach this big achievement.”

AFP

Fuelled By Premier League Dynasty, Man City Crave Champions League Legacy

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy as City players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City’s latest Premier League title triumph established the champions as a burgeoning dynasty, but Pep Guardiola won’t be satisfied until their domestic bliss becomes the catalyst to conquer Europe.

City’s fourth title in five seasons is arguably the greatest achievement of Guardiola’s glittering career as he found a way to hold off Liverpool’s relentless challenge by one point.

“The magnitude of our achievement is because of the magnitude of this rival,” said Guardiola. “Never ever I had a rival like Liverpool in my career as a football player or manager.”

But even Jurgen Klopp’s men, in the midst of one of the best seasons in their history, were unable to surpass City, leaving them with just one Premier League title in 32 years.

Lauding his players’ remarkable staying power, Guardiola said: “You cannot be here over the last five years if you don’t have that resilience.

“We have the desire to win. To win titles, especially the Premier League, is not just how good we are with the ball.”

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) and Manchester City’s English defender John Stones (L) celebrate with the Premier League trophy on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Nothing resembled that resilience more than the manner of City’s latest title triumph.

Losing 2-0 to Aston Villa with 15 minutes to go, City rallied in remarkable fashion to score three times in five minutes.

Yet, while Guardiola celebrates the ninth major prize of his six-year City reign, Klopp will be planning to add another chapter to Liverpool’s rich Champions League history.

Liverpool face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28 and Guardiola would dearly love to swap places with Klopp in Paris.

Since winning the second of his two Champions League crowns with Barcelona on 2011, Guardiola’s relationship with Europe’s elite club competition has been scarred by one agonising failure after another.

This season was no different as City crashed to a devastating semi-final exit against Real Madrid, blowing a 5-3 aggregate lead in the final seconds of normal time before losing in the extra period.

That heartache at the Bernabeu came a year after City’s limp loss to Chelsea in their first ever Champions League final.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

Haaland The Perfect Fit? 

In this file photo, ex-Dortmund’s Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland applauds after the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund v VfL Wolfsburg in Dortmund, western Germany, on April 16, 2022. INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

With that in mind, Guardiola knows City cannot afford to stand still if they are to finally triumph in Europe and keep Liverpool at bay in the Premier League.

A £51.5 million ($63 million) swoop for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland earlier in May was the opening salvo in their bid to achieve those two targets.

Haaland scored a remarkable 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund and appears an ideal fit for City.

The 21-year-old son of former City defender Alfie Haaland will arrive in time for next season, bringing his elite predatory instincts and physical presence to a City attack lacking both those qualities despite their success.

With the Norway international in the fold and Guardiola also looking to upgrade his options at left-back and in central midfield, it would be a major surprise if City were missing from the title race next term.

The only threat to City’s dynastic ambitions comes in the shape of Guardiola’s future plans.

Guardiola’s current contract expires in June 2023, by which time he will have spent seven years with City, three seasons longer than he managed Barcelona and four more than his spell with Bayern Munich.

The 51-year-old revealed amid the title celebrations he is “exhausted” and will not discuss a further extension to his time in Manchester until next season.

However, it is unlikely he would be able to find a better working environment than the one he enjoys with City.

City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners are never afraid to flex their financial muscle in the transfer market and have surrounded Guardiola with the lieutenants of his choice in director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive officer Ferran Soriano.

The quirky Spaniard marches to the beat of his own drum and a game-changing departure cannot be completely ruled out.

But the fierce competitor that lies beneath Guardiola’s urbane demeanour could be the key to his decision.

He sees Liverpool as a worthy opponent and, as a title race for the ages proved, pitting his wits against Klopp is the toughest, and most rewarding, challenge he could face.

AFP

‘Story Of My Life’: Klopp Laments As Man City Pip Liverpool In Title Race

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
In this file photo, Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool’s agonising failure to win the Premier League title was the “story of my life” as the German had to settle for second place behind Manchester City again.

Klopp’s side were within touching distance of the title for a few precious minutes at Anfield on Sunday as they chased a winning goal against Wolves while City trailed 2-0 against Aston Villa.

But, in a dramatic finish to the title race, City scored three times in the closing stages to win 3-2 and take the trophy by one point from second placed Liverpool.

The Reds’ 3-1 victory over Wolves was rendered irrelevant by City’s epic comeback, leaving Klopp to rue a second last-day title blow inflicted by Pep Guardiola’s team.

City had edged out Liverpool in the 2019 title race, while Klopp endured two last-day failures to win promotion to the Bundesliga during his time as Mainz boss.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

“Congratulations to Man City and Pep Guardiola. Thank you to Aston Villa and Wolverhampton for making a proper game of it,” Klopp said.

“It’s not the result we wanted. It was a bit of a rollercoaster. I don’t know the results exactly but I know Villa were 1-0 up –- were they 2-0 up as well? Of course at the moment there’s disappointment here as well.

“92 points is absolutely incredible. We wanted it all, but now it’s OK.

“Finishing second is the story of my life. I’m still record holder for not getting promoted in Germany with the highest points tally. You need to get more points than any other teams, but we didn’t do that.”

Despite Klopp’s lament, he has led Liverpool to FA Cup and League Cup glory this term and can win a third trophy if they beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday.

The German has also won the Champions League and Premier League with Liverpool in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Klopp insisted Liverpool had nothing to be ashamed of after cutting into the 14-point lead City held at the top in January to take the title race to the wire.

Hailing City as the world’s best team, he said: “You can’t do more than give your absolute best and that’s what the boys did again.

“We chased the best team in the world to the wire, that’s absolutely special. We’ll build a team again and go again.”

Klopp’s main concern ahead of the Champions League final is an injury to Thiago Alcantara that is likely to rule out the influential midfielder.

“I think he’ll be out of the final but I don’t know. He’s limping, so it’s maybe not the best sign,” he said.

AFP

Man City Keep Title Fate In Their Hands Despite West Ham Scare

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus reacts at the end of the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester City at the London Stadium, in London on May 15, 2022. Ian Kington / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Manchester City staged a thrilling fightback from two goals down to keep the destiny of the Premier League title in their hands, but Riyad Mahrez’s late penalty miss forced the leaders to settle for a dramatic 2-2 draw at West Ham on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side were in danger of gifting second placed Liverpool a title lifeline after West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen struck twice in the first half.

But City’s stirring recovery showed the character that has already brought them three titles in the last four seasons.

Jack Grealish got one back soon after the interval and Vladimir Coufal’s own goal completed City’s escape act.

It should have been even better for City, but Mahrez’s penalty was saved by Lukasz Fabianski with five minutes left.

While that was a bitter blow to Guardiola, who stood ashen-faced on the touchline, in the circumstances City will be relieved to have moved four points clear of Liverpool with a goal difference seven better than their rivals.

They will retain the title if Jurgen Klopp’s side lose their game in hand at Southampton on Tuesday.

If Liverpool beat Southampton to close the gap to one point, Guardiola’s men can still clinch the trophy with a victory against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on May 22.

A title race for the ages could well go down to the last day of the season, when Liverpool host Wolves, as it did when City pipped the Reds to first place in 2019.

Guardiola said this week he wants players with a “special mentality” as he looks to bolster his squad for next season, personalities who, like him, wake up every day obsessed with winning.

City’s enthralling revival to extend their unbeaten league run to 11 matches showed Guardiola already has plenty of fighters in his squad, although he might not put Mahrez on penalty duties again for a while.

Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho were passed fit in start in City’s defence after suffering injuries in Wednesday’s win at Wolves.

But City were already without injured defenders Ruben Dias, John Stones, and Kyle Walker and they didn’t look comfortable at the back from the opening moments.

READ ALSO: Tottenham Move Temporarily Into Top Four After Burnley Win

On a Knife-Edge 

West Ham United’s Czech defender Vladimir Coufal (L) and Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne speak at the end of the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester City at the London Stadium, in London on May 15, 2022. Ian Kington / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Craig Dawson got behind Oleksandr Zinchenko to meet Pablo Fornals’ cross, but with the goal at his mercy, the West Ham defender headed over.

That early threat seemed to fluster City, who controlled possession but found it difficult to create clear chances with West Ham happy to defend deep and strike on the counter.

Just as City looked set to turn the screw, they were hit with a sucker punch in the 24th minute.

Fornals’ opportunistic pass caught Laporte and Zinchenko trying to play offside and Bowen nipped in behind, rounding Ederson before slotting home from a tight angle.

Although West Ham had nothing to play for, they had already beaten Liverpool and Chelsea at home and this was no easy ride for City as David Moyes’ game-plan exposed the flaws in the leaders’ commitment to all-out attack.

City’s soft centre was exposed again on the stroke of half-time.

Fabianski’s long kick was headed on and Michail Antonio clipped his pass beyond Zinchenko, freeing Bowen to sprint clear and shoot low past Ederson.

Desperately needing a quick response after the break, Grealish gave City a lifeline in the 49th minute.

Rodri’s flick reached Grealish and his shot bounced into the ground, going through Dawson’s legs and past the wrong-footed Fabianski.

That was the signal for City to lay seige to the West Ham goal.

Fabianski saved Jesus’s drive with his legs, then kept out Bernardo Silva’s volley.

City’s relentless pressure was rewarded in the 69th minute when Mahrez’s free-kick was headed into his own net by the diving Coufal.

The drama wasn’t over and City were awarded an 85th minute penalty after a VAR review of Dawson’s trip on Jesus.

Mahrez stepped up with a chance to almost seal the title, but Fabianski dived to his left to make a save that kept the title race on a knife edge.

AFP

Liverpool Still Chasing Man City Like ‘Mad’ In Title Race – Klopp

In this file photo, Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden (L) crosses the ball during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 10, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool are still “chasing like mad” after Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, said Jurgen Klopp after coming from a goal down to beat Aston Villa 2-1 on Tuesday.

The top two are now level on points, but City stay top on goal difference and have a game in hand away to Wolves on Wednesday.

Liverpool could ill-afford another slip up after being held 1-1 at home by Tottenham at the weekend and got off to the worst possible start when Douglas Luiz fired Villa in front after three minutes.

But Joel Matip quickly levelled and Sadio Mane’s fine header 25 minutes from time kept the Reds in contention for a historic quadruple of trophies.

“We are still chasing like mad,” said Klopp. “We just know we have to win, that didn’t change and now we have to recover to play the FA Cup final. There is no mercy.”

READ ALSOGuardiola Hints Man City Closing In On Haaland Deal

However, victory came at a cost as Fabinho limped off with a muscle injury that makes him a major doubt for both Saturday’s FA Cup final and the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28.

“He felt a muscle, not too much,” added Klopp. “He is quite positive but I’m not sure what I can make of that to be honest.”

With one eye on Wembley, Klopp rolled the dice with his team selection as Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara were left on the bench, while there was no place in the squad for Andy Robertson.

The visitors looked like a much-changed side as Villa sprang out of the traps and caught them cold.

Alisson Becker had already denied Ollie Watkins by the time Steven Gerrard’s men took the lead on three minutes.

Luiz’s header was parried by Alisson, but only back into the path of his Brazilian international teammate to hammer the rebound high into the net.

Villa won this fixture 7-2 last season, but Liverpool this time bounced straight back from the early blow of conceding.

The hosts did not deal with a free-kick into the box and the ball eventually broke for Virgil van Dijk to square for his centre-back partner Matip to apply the finishing touch.

Chances continued to come at both ends in a frantic first half.

Mane headed inches wide and Naby Keita missed his kick with the goal gaping for Liverpool, while, at the other end, Danny Ings just failed to keep his header down from Lucas Digne’s inviting cross.

Mane Header

Liverpool's Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (L) celebrates scoring the team's second goal with Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) and Liverpool's Portuguese striker Diogo Jota during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on May 10, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (L) celebrates scoring the team’s second goal with Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) and Liverpool’s Portuguese striker Diogo Jota during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on May 10, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool’s heavy schedule began to show physically when Fabinho limped off with a hamstring injury midway through the first half.

However, Liverpool went through the gears in the second period to show the gulf in class between the sides.

“We’ve got to take the big moments we created in the game,” said Gerrard. “I’m frustrated we didn’t score more than once.

“We were ambitious, brave, and courageous against one of the best teams in the world.”

Luis Diaz’s arrival in January has played a huge part in keeping Klopp’s men in contention for four trophies.

The Colombian created the winner as he teased Tyrone Mings before delivering a pinpoint cross for Mane to head in his 22nd goal of the season.

There were still nervy moments for Liverpool to see out in the final quarter as Villa sought to expose their high line.

Twice Ings failed to capitalise when played through on goal before being flagged offside when he did finally put the ball in the net.

But Liverpool held on and will hope Gerrard can finally come to their rescue in a title race.

Gerrard famously never won a league title during his decorated playing career at Anfield but will take Villa to face City at the Etihad on the final day of the season.

AFP

Spurs Sharpshooters Pose Huge Test For Liverpool, Says Klopp

Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane (C) and Tottenham Hotspur's South Korean striker Son Heung-Min (R) celebrate their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on February 19, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP
Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (C) and Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-Min (R) celebrate their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on February 19, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp has warned Liverpool that Tottenham forwards Harry Kane and Son Heung-min will pose a “massive” challenge for his quadruple-chasing team.

Klopp’s side, one point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City with four games left, can go top of the table if they beat Tottenham at Anfield on Saturday, with City facing Newcastle 24 hours later.

But fifth-placed Spurs are battling to finish in the top four and Reds boss Klopp is concerned about the potential damage that Kane and Son — with 43 goals between them in all competitions this season — could do.

“Tottenham have massive quality,” he said Friday. “Especially away from home, they are not too bothered about having the ball all the time, stuff like this. They defend compact and then obviously they have some of the best counter-attacking players in the world.

“Up front they have speed like crazy — Harry Kane, what a player, and obviously fits in that idea extremely well. There’s a blind understanding between them (Kane and Son) so I’d say it’s probably the biggest challenge for protection we face for a long time.”

READ ALSO: Mbappe’s Mother Denies He Has Agreed Deal To Stay At PSG

Liverpool are on a high after sealing their place in the Champions League final against Real Madrid by beating Villarreal this week.

In contrast, City were left reeling by Real’s astonishing escape act in the other semi-final, eventually losing 6-5 on aggregate.

But Klopp is wary about writing off City too soon, expecting them to respond this weekend.

“City are good,” he said. “It was a massive blow for them, that was really harsh. I’ve had nights like that. It’s not cool, the next morning, not cool, but then there’s a moment you have to focus. They will be ready for Newcastle on Sunday.”

With the League Cup already in the trophy cabinet and an FA Cup final to come against Chelsea next weekend, Liverpool are in contention to become the first club to win all four major trophies in a single season.

Yet Klopp does not believe Liverpool will be favourites when they face 13-time European champions Real on May 28 in a repeat of the 2018 final won by the Spaniards.

“They are now the massive favourites with all the experience they have and all these kind of things,” said Klopp. “We are more experienced than we were, probably, but it’s obviously not to compare.

“They got through against PSG (Paris Saint-Germain), Chelsea and City. If you knock out these three guys, then you definitely deserve to be in the final.”

AFP

Conte Urges Spurs To Be ‘Brave’ Against Fearsome Liverpool

In this file photo, Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s third goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 19, 2022.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Antonio Conte has urged Tottenham to be “brave” when they face quadruple-chasing Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday in a match that could prove pivotal for both teams.

Spurs are two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool similarly need the win if they are to catch Manchester City, who are one point clear at the top of the table.

The Reds have only dropped two points in the Premier League since January 2 — a draw against Pep Guardiola’s City — and this week booked their place in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

Klopp’s men already have the League Cup in the trophy cabinet and face Chelsea in the FA Cup final later this month as they hunt an unprecedented clean sweep of silverware.

READ ALSO: Real Madrid And Liverpool Set For Paris Rematch

“When you arrive at this point of the season and you are in a race for every target, it gives you a big, big push to do something incredible,” Spurs boss Conte said on Thursday.

“I think Jurgen Klopp is doing a fantastic job with his team. It is not easy, especially for an English team to arrive at the end of the season to stay in the race for all the competitions that you compete (in).

“It is incredible. You can see Liverpool’s players run a lot, they have not had many injuries. Their enthusiasm is not 100 percent, it is 200 percent. You don’t feel the fatigue when you reach this point.”

The Italian, desperate to secure Champions League football next season, said he wanted his side to play their own game at Anfield after drawing 2-2 against Liverpool at home earlier in the season.

Spurs have also beaten Premier League leaders City home and away during the current campaign.

“I said this to my players, we need to play a good game and be brave when we have the ball, don’t be scared for all the pressure, and to find the solution,” said Conte.

“We have improved a lot. We are in this race for a place in the Champions League and for this reason we need to get points in every game. Every game is a big chance for us to improve the table. In this game we have to try and beat Liverpool.”

Conte also said at his pre-match press conference that loan star Dejan Kulusevski was “100 percent” a Tottenham player.

The Swede, who has impressed since joining from Juventus in the January transfer window, is on an 18-month loan but Spurs have the option to buy, which would turn into an obligation should certain on-field criteria be met.

Conte has no concerns about Kulusevski’s future, saying: “He’s a Tottenham player, 100 percent in every aspect. Not officially but he’s 100 percent a Tottenham player.”

AFP

Klopp Signs New Liverpool Contract Until 2026

File photo: Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has signed a new contract that will keep him at Anfield until 2026, the Premier League club announced on Thursday.

The German, whose previous deal was due to expire in 2024, said he was “delighted, humbled, blessed” to be staying for an extra two years.

“There is just so much to love about this place,” he said. “I knew that before I came here. I got to know it even better after I arrived and now I know it more than ever before.

“Like any healthy relationship, it always has to be a two-way street; you have to be right for each other. The feeling we were absolutely right for each other is what brought me here in the first place and it’s why I’ve extended previously.”

He added: “When the owners brought the possibility to renew to me, I asked myself the question I’ve mused over publicly — ‘Do I have the energy and vibe to give of myself again what this amazing place requires from the person in the manager’s office?’

“I didn’t need too long to answer in truth. The answer was very simple…I’m in love with here and I feel fine!”

Klopp’s quote echoes the new chant to the tune of The Beatles song “I Feel Fine” — dedicated to the Reds boss.

– Quadruple chase –

Liverpool are chasing an unprecedented quadruple of trophies this season. They have already won the League Cup and face Chelsea in next month’s FA Cup final.

The Reds are just one point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City with five games to go and are 2-0 up after the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Villarreal.

The German has rebuilt the Reds into a superpower of European football since taking charge in 2015.

Liverpool lifted the Champions League in 2019 before ending a 30-year wait to win the English top flight the following year.

If they pip Manchester City to the title this year they would equal Manchester United’s record of 20 English league crowns.

The 54-year-old has previously said he would take a sabbatical from the game when his time at Anfield comes to an end.

However, he has put his planned break back at least two years as he builds a legacy to rival that of Alex Ferguson’s 26-year reign at Manchester United and Arsene Wenger’s 22-year stay at Arsenal.

Klopp is already the longest-serving manager in the Premier League and should he see out his new deal it would mean an 11-year stay — a rarity at one of the world’s biggest clubs in the modern game.

The former Mainz and Borussia Dortmund boss been re-energised this season after appearing jaded during a difficult 2020/21 campaign dogged by injury problems and played in the soulless atmosphere of empty stadiums.

Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon, speaking on behalf of the club’s owners, said: “It’s always hard to find the right words to adequately reflect Jurgen’s importance and contribution to our club, but today’s announcement really does speak for itself.”

But challenges lie ahead for Liverpool if they are to maintain the stellar standards they have set in recent years alongside Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Mohamed Salah — the Premier League’s top-scorer this season — has still not put pen to paper on a new deal. His contract expires next year, at the same time as those for fellow forwards Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino run out.

And sporting director Michael Edwards, who has been credited with much of the club’s savvy transfer business, has already announced he is leaving the club at the end of the season.

AFP

Liverpool Face Fixture Crunch In Premier League Title Bid

In this file photo, Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane celebrates with teammates after scoring his team third goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 19, 2022.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Title-chasing Liverpool will play two Premier League games in the final week of the campaign after their match against Southampton was rescheduled due to their participation in the FA Cup final.

Jurgen Klopp’s men will travel to the south coast for their penultimate fixture of the league season on Tuesday, May 17, three days after their date at Wembley with Chelsea.

READ ALSO: Mourinho Rebuilding Reputation As Revitalised Roma Eye European Glory

Quadruple-chasing Liverpool, who already have the League Cup in their trophy cabinet, are going head to head with reigning champions Manchester City for the title.

They are one point behind Pep Guardiola’s City with five games remaining for both teams.

City’s trip to Wolves, which was postponed due to their FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool, has been scheduled for May 11.

Guardiola’s men face a tough trip to West Ham on May 15 and conclude their season a week later at home to Aston Villa, while Liverpool host Wolves on the final day.

Liverpool and City could also meet in the final of the Champions League if both win their semi-final ties.

AFP