Jurgen Klopp has admitted it has been a “difficult season for Liverpool” as the Reds bid to overturn a Europa League semi-final first-leg deficit against Villarreal.
The German boss knows his side have a “big opportunity” to reach the final, but he admitted Villarreal’s wild celebrations in their first-leg victory provides no extra motivation for his side.
The Spanish club arrive at Anfield for the semi-final with a 1-0 lead from the first leg courtesy of a last-minute winner, which sparked jubilation among the home squad and fans.
Klopp played down the significance of that goal a week ago and he will not use it to gee up his players ahead of a pivotal night.
“They scored a goal in the last minute, so if they hadn’t celebrated something would have been really wrong,” he said.
“The only thing I thought in this moment was ‘half-time’. Nothing happened. They have to come to Anfield.
“I am still feeling this so the feeling is we are halfway through and I know how difficult it is.
“I sense the chance more than I am afraid of something – so let’s try.”
Klopp is an emotional character on the touchline but he will keep things in check and expects his players to do the same.
“I am fine (emotionally) – even when it doesn’t look like it,” he added.
“We know we have 90-something minutes. It’s not about being patient in a patient way, it’s about being patient with a clear direction.
“We need to show in each situation that we know about the game and the importance, not with pressure but with joy.
“It’s about playing football. Most of the time football is a fair game.
If they play better than we can, Villarreal will go through to the final.
“I’ll have no problem then to say congratulations. If we play our best then we can go to the final.
“This game is a big opportunity in a difficult season for Liverpool.”
Defender Dejan Lovren said after their last European outing at Anfield, when they produced a dramatic comeback to beat then-favourites Borussia Dortmund in added time, that anything was possible.
The Croatia international credits Klopp with effecting a change in mentality.
“I think everyone expected it because – and it’s not because Jurgen is here next to me – he is a big manager,” he said of the progress made since the German replaced Brendan Rodgers in October.
“He showed that previously with Dortmund and with Mainz. He is a positive man and he brings the positive energy to the club.
“Everyone knows that. Like he said in the beginning, [he wants to turn people] from doubters to believers, so next season will be a different thing.”
Liverpool have been boosted ahead of the match by the return to fitness ahead of schedule of midfielder Emre Can, who was expected to be sidelined for up to four weeks with ankle ligament damage but has returned in less than three.