Klopp stresses it’s only “half-time” as Liverpool look to loosen the shackles vs. Atletico

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It is only “half-time” for Jurgen Klopp in the tie against Atletico Madrid, and having often shown powers of recovery during mid-game breaks he is expecting similar on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone’s side descends on Anfield on Wednesday evening with a one-goal advantage after neutralising Liverpool’s threat in Madrid following their early strike.

It leaves the Reds with everything to do in the second leg and while Klopp is full of respect for the opposition, he backs his side to emerge from the “half-time” interval refreshed and with solutions to their problems.

The manager always darts down the tunnel at the start of half-time in every game, eager to quickly analyse and digest the events of the opening 45 for good or bad – and more often than not his side responds in the manner he expects.

And after the three-week break between the two games, rather than the standard 15 minutes, “a lot of things are much clearer than they were before” for Klopp and Co.

It starts with testing Jan Oblak after the Atletico ‘keeper was left without a shot on target to stop in the first leg.

“More shots on target,” Klopp joked when asked what he expected of his team this time around.

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, February 18, 2020: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between Club Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“No shots on target [in the first leg] makes it sound like we had no chances. We had good situations but we played against a team that is probably the world’s best at deep defending.

“They scored a goal where they were slightly lucky, we were unlucky. That is how football is.

“The challenge against Atletico was always clear that it was one of the biggest in football.

“They don’t go out with the white flag, they fight until the end and that’s what we do, that’s why it’s so interesting.

“It’s half-time. It’s the best news,” he continued. “For us half-time in a normal game, we use in a pretty good way. We like that, we learn from it and the second half, very often, we improve.

“This time we didn’t have 15 minutes we had three weeks as half-time, we didn’t prepare for the whole time but a couple of days and a lot of things are much clearer than they were before.

“If you know it it is one [thing] and if you feel it it is completely different and a couple of advantages we didn’t have there are now on our side.

“They are not the only things decisive in the game but the atmosphere will be a point, 100 percent. Our crowd will be an advantage and that they don’t have their crowd will be another advantage.”

Klopp’s approach is one which opens up the world of possibilities with 90 minutes left on the clock but also provides the realisation that it could be the end of the road – the latter of which is key to ensuring his side can play with absolute freedom.

“We have to produce a performance on the pitch which has to be exceptional in all departments because playing against a deep defending side is one thing, but the counter-attacking threat on the other side makes it even more difficult,” he added.

“We need higher speed in different moments, we need better switches, need braver football, to play around, in-behind and through the gaps of the formation.

“If you play predictable Atletico defends you for the next six months without rest.

“Tomorrow night is a game we have to show that we really learned from the first leg and that we really want to go through and respecting it’s possible we don’t.

“If you are afraid of going out you cannot play with freedom and we need to play free.”

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