Jurgen Klopp was disappointed but unsurprised by his side’s exit from the Champions League at the last 16 stage, but what did he have to say about the top four battle?
Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid quashed any hopes of silverware this season and dreams of a historic comeback at the Bernabeu.
The manager was down but not defeated in his post-match press conference, and it appeared that the inevitability of the situation had prevented him from taking the loss too heavily.
The defeat emphasised the significance of a top-four finish in the Premier League this season and, in his post-match press conference, Klopp discussed his side’s chances on the back of a disappointing showing in Madrid.
“Our job is to squeeze absolutely everything out of this season what is possible”
Klopp was asked to comment on the importance of the top-four race in the context of a season in which there is now, officially, nothing else left to fight for.
The manager was defiant in his words and insisted that the team will do all they can to ensure that there is a return to the competition next season, and pointed to consistency levels as something that needs to improve in order to do so.
Liverpool showed both sides of their character in the lead-up to the Madrid game, thrashing Man United 7-0 before falling to a 1-0 defeat at bottom of the league Bournemouth.
April is shaping up to be a tricky month for the Reds, with fixtures against Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal coming in the first nine days alone.
“We will decide on the pitch, not here in the press conference”
It was the tone of a manager who has not given up on his team’s chances of achieving things this season.
Liverpool will need to deliver a much greater level of consistency than they have managed until this point if they are to get another bite of the Champions League cherry in 2023/24.
The Reds will also need to do so without Stefan Bajcetic, who has become the latest in a seemingly endless line of Liverpool players to have picked up an injury this season.
The Spaniard has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign, and a timeline for compatriot and fellow midfielder Thiago is still yet to be established.
It is, however, expected that Luis Diaz will return to the first-team picture after the international break.
“We start usually in the competition with the idea of winning it”
Given that Liverpool have featured in three of the last five finals, it is unsurprising to hear that the Reds set out to win the competition each season.
Klopp referenced the club’s special history with the European Cup and spoke of the “massive task” involved in securing qualification for next year.
There are just 12 games remaining for Liverpool to rescue a positive outcome, and the Reds currently sit six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham having played one game fewer.
Liverpool will host Spurs at Anfield at the end of April, with the Reds coming away 2-1 winners in the away fixture back in November.
Newcastle and Brighton will also offer competition for the last remaining Champions League spot.
But as Klopp said, the team need to do their talking on the pitch.