Liverpool take on Borussia Dortmund in an exciting Europa League quarter-final clash at the Westfalenstadion, where the Reds’ success of 15 years ago can inspire another title win.
An emotional reunion with his beloved Dortmund will certainly be a special moment for the Liverpool manager on Thursday night. But in the game being billed in places as the “Jurgen Klopp derby” it isn’t the only reunion associated with this mouth-watering tie, with Liverpool also returning to the scene of their unforgettable UEFA Cup triumph in 2001.
15 years on as the Reds continue a journey they hope ends in another European success, revisiting the famous stadium where history was made can provide the inspiration for a sensational repeat.
Arriving at the Westfalenstadion just four days later for the showpiece European final against shock contenders Deportivo Alaves, Gerard Houllier’s side searched for a third, looking to cap off a hugely successful campaign with UEFA glory.
The Reds were overwhelming favourites against their Spanish opponents who were playing their first ever season in European competition, and especially so after battling past heavyweights Roma – Serie A champions that year – Porto and Barcelona to reach the Dortmund showdown.
But it would prove anything but the straightforward task universally envisaged despite goals from Markus Babbel, Steven Gerrard, Gary McAllister and Robbie Fowler, with the game forced into extra time after a 4-4 draw and what can now be acknowledged as a remarkable effort from Alaves.
With the ‘golden-goal’ rule in operation, the Reds triumphed in a spectacular occasion befitting of the stunning arena, sealing an unforgettable 5-4 victory thanks to an own-goal from Delfi Geli, who inadvertently wrote himself into Anfield folklore.
As always with the Reds, the prize was won the hard way, but the occasion that unfolded and the manner in which it was achieved only further cemented the success as one of the greatest in the club’s history.
Returning to where it all happened on Thursday night can provide Klopp and his players with the inspiration to ensure of another memorable triumph.
Before Liverpool can think about claiming glory, this time in Basel’s St. Jakob-Park, a mighty challenge awaits against Thomas Tuchel’s side.
A Champions League team in Europa League competition, it’s no surprise that BVB are so heavily tipped to win the title with the quality of the team and consistency and reliability of their performances on the big stage.
A huge task faces Klopp’s men against a side that have won 19 of 22 home games this season losing only once, breezed past Porto and Tottenham, and to control the devastating attack of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus, and lethal goal machine, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But it’s a challenge that if the Reds can complete, starting with a positive result in the momentous arena, can provide the catalyst for another success.
While respecting the challenge the home side undoubtedly pose as the strongest team in the competition in Klopp’s words, the Reds must also recognise the opportunity presented, that being eliminating the best team left.
In a stadium Liverpool have done it before they can take heart and do it again, with a controlled approach needed at the back and big-game players required to step up in attack, to ensure of a positive result to set up a mammoth encounter at Anfield in seven days’ time, just as Klopp will want.
Should Liverpool return to Merseyside in the tie – or even in control of it for the optimistic Kopites – anything can happen with the power of Anfield behind the team which has proved the undoing of many a European giant.
Though absolutely no forgone conclusion, if Klopp can mastermind victory over his former employers over two-legs, the belief that would be instilled in his team for the rest of the competition would know no bounds.
It could provide the injection for another memorable European title.
Though 15 years have passed since the unforgettable success, stories of the crazy victory in the famous stadium will be re-told time and again over the coming days.
None of the players or staff who claimed the trophy Robbie Fowler and Sami Hyppia lifted that night may remain, but Klopp and his squad will certainly be aware of the history and feeling the spectacular ground holds for Liverpool.
Revisiting and stepping out at the arena with the same goal in mind – albeit at an earlier juncture – to obtain a positive result once again could provide the decisive moment that inspires the Reds to replicate the success of May 2001.
“You cannot win without tactics but the emotion makes the difference”, Klopp once stated.
If his side can tune into that, understanding what has previously been achieved by a brave Reds XI on Thursday’s stage, it can increase belief to drive the side to a positive position on their journey once again.
Securing the right result against on return to the historic Westfalenstadion will go some way to helping achieve that.