Concise News reports that the Reds set up a meeting with FC Barcelona in the last four of Europe’s premier club competition after a 6-1 aggregate victory over FC Porto in the quarter-finals on Wednesday night.
Holding a two-goal advantage from last week’s first leg at Anfield, Klopp’s side ran out 4-1 winners in the return fixture at the Estadio do Dragao courtesy of goals from Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk.
Read on for a transcript of Klopp’s post-match press conference…
Reaction to Liverpool’s performance and place in the semi-finals…
I am very, very happy, as you can imagine. I said before it would be very difficult, probably you all thought that’s what I had to say, but I knew it so how can I be surprised now it was difficult? A few things in football you cannot defend in the first place, the long balls they play in behind, the physicality. There were a lot of really physical challenges whereas a defender you have to be a bit more careful because if you make a foul then it’s a free-kick, what they wanted, or even worse, maybe a penalty. Then we had not the best reaction on the second balls, so they had too many of them – especially in the centre.
We tried to change the system a couple of times and finally, we changed at half-time, 4-4-1-1, and it helped because then we closed the centre better, we could keep them on one side and they couldn’t switch the sides as they did before with a lot of direction in the game. We had to defend in the first half an hour a lot in the last third. That’s OK, it’s no problem, it’s the work you have to do in a football game. The boys did that and a big difference to the past is that it doesn’t cost us confidence, if we have to do it then we do it. If we are under pressure, no problem, we have to defend there and then after that, we know we will get chances. We had them, we scored a goal, had a big chance before half-time.
The second half, it was clear Porto would come out again with high intensity, but they then cannot keep the level until the end, so moments for us would come again. We used them and so we won the game and now are in the semi-final – unbelievable, really, what a competition and we are second time in a row in the semis. That’s really something crazy, unbelievable.
On whether progressing in the manner in which they did will benefit Liverpool
There was a lot of drama on the pitch, but maybe not the drama. In the last third of the season, we see the finish line already and you need to have a little bit of luck with injuries and stuff like that, it’s very important. Now, [we play on] Sunday, we have three days to recover, but we fly tomorrow and stuff like that and then make ourselves ready for another very, very intense football game. Cardiff are completely back in the race with the result from yesterday, so they will fight for it. I don’t think it will be less intense than tonight, so that’s the next job to do.
On whether the 6-1 aggregate scoreline was a fair reflection of the tie
I don’t think it’s a result that reflects the two games. In the first game, we were the clear better side – 2-0 is OK, but we dominated the game, we played a really good football game – and that made life really difficult for Porto. Tonight, it was the other way around, they made our life very difficult, they were really direct. It is really nice to be part of a game like this when the crowd is like this and behind the team, even as the away team and obviously they didn’t like us too much, it was a very good football atmosphere, they used it. It was so powerful the game of Porto and so difficult to deal with, but we scored the goals and that’s how a result like this can happen.
Porto needed an early goal tonight, they didn’t score it and then, as I said, the intensity level drops a little bit and we are still there, it’s not that we forgot how to play football. We have our strengths even in a difficult game, so I am completely happy. Nobody is interested in the 6-1 or whatever, I didn’t think about it and will not think about it – it is only important you go through and we went through. Last year [was] not a 5-0, honestly. I said that before and I don’t say it only to be gentle or nice or whatever. We played a good game, it was not a 5-0, but we still took the result. This year it is not a 6-1, but anyway we want to go through, we are through, and I think that’s deserved as well.
On whether reaching the semi-finals feels different compared to last season
The group stage last year was already different. I don’t know what kind of results we had, crazy results in the group stages and that, of course, carries you a little bit through the whole competition. This year it was much more difficult, a lot of difficult away games, but last year we had a very difficult away game at Manchester City if you remember, a very difficult away game at Rome and we still did it somehow. I know people like to be disrespectful for kind of a team like Porto and you think, ‘Oh, Liverpool got Porto’… We knew how difficult it is. We won 2-0 at home and that was deserved.
And here today, anything could have happened. We dealt really well with it, so I’m really happy about that. In the quarter-finals of the Champions League, there are only unbelievably strong teams – in the semi-finals as well, by the way. I didn’t see anything about the Tottenham-City game obviously, so I cannot say anything about that. But what I saw now twice from Ajax Amsterdam… if I would wear my hat still, I would have to [tip it]. It’s unbelievable how they play. On a football way, I have to say [the] biggest compliment for how they went through, beating Madrid and Juve in the way they did it – it’s unbelievable. Four really strong teams in the semis and it stays interesting.
Starting Origi ahead of Firmino
Bobby had absolutely no fitness issues and that he doesn’t get any, that’s why we started with Divock. Then because we defended as a unit in the first line not too good, we had to change it at half-time. It’s no problem, it was nothing about Divock. Div in training, he’s in unbelievable shape and shows that all the time. How the game developed was not the most thankful game for a striker, but that’s how it is. He has no issues.