Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told his players Villarreal are “there for the taking” at Anfield next week despite holding a 1-0 first leg Europa League semi-final lead.
An added-time Adrian Lopez goal gave the Spanish club a slender advantage to bring to Merseyside but the Reds boss is confident that can be turned around – backed by the power of a home crowd – and Reds star Adam Lallana agrees.
Klopp may have tried to manage expectations of a repeat of the drama of a fortnight ago – when Dejan Lovren struck an injury-time winner as the Reds produced a miraculous comeback against Borussia Dortmund – in his post-match press conference but Lallana is stirred by still-fresh memories of what turned out to be a famous Anfield night.
“Trust me, I cannot wait for next week,” said the England international. “I keep thinking about Dortmund and what happened then. The fans have got a massive role to play.
“We are going to make it a rocking atmosphere and we will get the two goals that we need.
“The manager has told us that they are there for the taking.
“He told us that we have got the fans and then he said, ‘We will make it another magical night next week’.”
Although Klopp suggested his side’s inexperience may have cost them a goalless draw in Spain after they were caught out by an injury-time counter-attack Lallana believes the players have learned plenty from a number of big games in the last 12 months.
They reached last season’s FA Cup semi-final and went one better than their 2015 run to the last four of the Capital One Cup by reaching Wembley this February, only losing to Manchester City on penalties.
Lallana is sure that will stand them in good stead when it the time comes to deliver next Thursday.
“It was a massive sucker punch, so hard to take. It almost a brilliant away performance,” he added. “But listen, these things happen. We still have massive confidence about taking them back to Anfield. It will be a completely different game.
“The manager told us, ‘Do not worry. Be disappointed for five minutes but no longer – wait unit we get them back home’.
“It would have been easy to get deflated. It’s only natural that we are disappointed after conceding in injury time but we are over it.
“We have got to back ourselves and we will.
“The last couple of years we have got to the semi-finals of both domestic competitions.
“This year we have been in a final and are here in another semi-final. We put ourselves under pressure to get to finals. We are still in the tie.
“We will have a right good go next week. Anfield will be bouncing.”