Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Underdog tales help Klopp passion shine ahead of Roma semifinal




Underdog tales help Klopp passion shine ahead of Roma semifinal

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reacts following their Champions League quarterfinal football second leg victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 10. AFP
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reacts following their Champions League quarterfinal football second leg victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 10. AFP

Underdog tales help Klopp passion shine ahead of Roma semifinal

A confessed admirer of the underdog tales of Robin Hood and Rocky Balboa, Jurgen Klopp is probably uncomfortable with Liverpool’s status as strong favourites in Tuesday night’s Champions League semifinal, first leg against Roma (at 1:45am Cambodian time).

However, it is testament to how far the German has revitalised a sleeping giant on the European stage that Liverpool’s first appearance in the Champions League last four for a decade is met with such expectation.

It hasn’t always been a such a smooth ride since Klopp arrived an Anfield two and a half years ago.

Indeed, even in the aftermath of a 5-1 quarterfinal thrashing of hitherto tournament favourites Manchester City, Klopp warned the clock was ticking on his promise to deliver a trophy within four years of taking charge.

Early in his reign Klopp at times bemoaned the subdued atmosphere in modern English grounds, even at the mythical Anfield, compared to his grounding in Germany’s Bundesliga.

By contrast, Anfield will be at fever pitch on Tuesday to try and inspire the five-time European champions back to club’s football’s biggest game in the Kiev final on May 26.

“The Champions League nights are special for the fans too,” Liverpool’s talisman Mohamed Salah – who has scored an incredible 41 goals in his debut season for the club – told CNN. “You can feel it on the streets.

“The atmosphere in that first game against Man City was the first time I had really seen something like that.”

Premier League champions City’s evisceration by a three-goal blitz in 19 first-half minutes was just another chapter in a long history of famous European nights at Anfield.

“The Liverpool fans, they all believe ‘this is our competition’,” recognised City boss Pep Guardiola afterwards.

But it came on the back of a rallying cry by Klopp for his players not to be intimidated by Liverpool’s history in the competition, but to make memories they too will be remembered for.

Mirror image of their manager

Liverpool’s high-energy style that even City couldn’t cope with is a mirror image of their manager on the touchline.

“If something is important to me, I cannot hide my feelings. When I’m happy everyone can see and it’s the same when I’m angry,” Klopp told the Big Interview podcast.

However, Klopp’s revival of Liverpool has come from far more than rabble-rousing.

His fluid 4-3-3 system has brought the best out of a prolific front three of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, who have combined for 83 goals this season.

“I think Jurgen is a master to buy players with what he really needs for the way he wants to play,” said Guardiola, who has suffered more defeats in his career to Klopp than any other manager.

Most impressively of all, Klopp’s management has also ensured that Liverpool’s flurry of goals hasn’t dried up despite losing Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142 million ($199 million) in January and not buying a natural replacement.

Instead just over half of that fee was spent on Virgil Van Dijk to bolster a defence that often let Klopp down in his first two years in England.

Since the £75 million Dutchman was recruited, Liverpool have conceded just once in four European outings.

Klopp has also learned from his own mistakes. The intensity of his demands left Liverpool drained in the second-half of last season after a promising start to the campaign.

This season no manager has rotated more than Klopp in the Premier League with the payoff that his side remain the sole English representatives in the last four.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,