Jürgen Klopp hoping for third time lucky as final looms
Jürgen Klopp’s first UEFA Champions League final was with Dortmund back in 2013, but the irrepressible Liverpool boss is still seeking to win the tournament as he gears up for his third decider.
As recently as March, he secured belated revenge over Bayern for that defeat thanks to Liverpool’s emphatic knockout win, but can his team now exorcise their loss at the final hurdle last May by beating Tottenham in Madrid? Here are the German manager’s thoughts.
On his tactics against Tottenham …
Liverpool and Tottenham know each other pretty well. Apart from that, it’s a final and you have an opponent you have to prepare for by looking at their strengths and weaknesses. That’s what you have to do, so that makes it no different from any other final.
We know that already, so why should we think too much about it? If we are really at our absolute top level then we are a difficult team to play against, but we know Tottenham are as well. In Germany we have a saying: ‘All the best things come in threes.’ At Mainz, I missed promotion twice and we got promoted in the third season. We hope that will repeat itself for the Champions League.
On putting his ideas across after joining Liverpool in 2015 …
The players knew after five days what my ideas were. It was clear that the players knew me and knew Dortmund. This is why it was clear how we wanted to play, but we didn’t want to push everything that way right from the start.
We wanted to utilise the qualities of the players and give them more confidence so they would have that belief that they are the right players for Liverpool.
On the early influences that shaped his career …
Mainz 05 had the biggest influence on my entire life. I was there for 18 years and it had a big impact on me. I’ve said this a lot, but I’m happy to insist on it: [former Mainz coach] Wolfgang Frank influenced us all. He was the man who took football to another level for us.
He got rid of our inadequacies, of our own mistakes. And he gave us the possibility of becoming a well-organised team that could win against bigger opposition. He was the biggest influence. I learned there that the greatest defeats are there so you can come back feeling stronger.
On embracing diversity …
Football has always been multicultural in the best possible way and I’ve always enjoyed that. If your approach remains the same as it was when you grew up, you cannot really benefit from the others around you.
But when people from all around the world come together, and you mix different cultures and different personalities, something really big can grow out of that. That’s what I’ve always loved about football.