Jurgen Klopp has described Liverpool’s upcoming clash with Real Madrid in the Champions League as “exciting”, despite the size of the challenge awaiting them.
Having fallen short in their title defence, Liverpool are hoping to win the Champions League to put a silver lining around their season.
They will have to do it the hard way, though, after Friday’s draw for the quarter-finals paired them with Madrid – the competition’s most successful club.
Should they get past that, they could have an all-English semi-final with Chelsea. Then, there would be one final hurdle to overcome.
Liverpool can only take things one step at a time, though, and their attention will soon have to turn to their quarter-final against Madrid.
The two teams have history, having last gone head to head in the final of the competition in 2018. That game ended as a 3-1 defeat after some high-profile errors by Loris Karius.
Liverpool have been much improved in the years since, winning the following edition of the tournament before getting their hands on the Premier League trophy last season.
Hence, Klopp is looking ahead to the two-legged showdown with Madrid with more excitement than fear.
“It’s exciting, exciting,” he told Liverpool’s official website.
“It’s obviously a tough draw but I am fine with it because if you look at all the other teams you think, ‘Oh my god’ because they are all strong and all have quality, that’s clear. I am really looking forward to the games.
“It’s only just over two years ago that we faced them and it was a tough night for us, so to get the chance to play them again is cool.
“I know it’s a different round and whatever and we don’t know where we will play and stuff like this, but that’s all OK. If it will be Budapest, that’s fine. We are fine with that.
“The home game maybe hopefully at Anfield, that would be great as well.
“So, no, nothing bad to say – nothing bad to say actually, it’s just cool.”
The 2018 final was Klopp’s only previous meeting with Madrid as Liverpool boss. However, he faced them plenty of times when he was in charge of Dortmund.
That experience should serve him well, as many of the players he has come up against in the past remain. But he knows this encounter will be a lot different.
“With Dortmund, it was a little bit like that when the Champions League draw [was made] for the group stage or whatever – we had them in the group stage, we had them in the knockout stages,” he said. “Them or Arsenal, one of them we always had.
“With Liverpool now we only faced them once, that’s OK. But, yes, it’s always tough.
“I think it’s the first time I faced them when Cristiano [Ronaldo] is not there; probably maybe the first time since [Gareth] Bale is not there.
“But obviously [Sergio] Ramos is still there, [Raphael] Varane still there, [Toni] Kroos still there, [Luka] Modric still there, Casemiro still there, [Dani] Carvajal still there, [Karim] Benzema still there.
“And a few young prospects, proper players on top of that. Again, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Klopp didn’t want English opponent
The quarter-finals is the first stage of the tournament in which teams from the same country can face each other. However, Liverpool avoided either Manchester City or Chelsea.
The latter could await in the next round, but Klopp believes all the sides left in the tournament would rather face teams from abroad.
“I think we are all the same: Bayern doesn’t want to play Dortmund, for example, because they are from the same country and for us, it was City and Chelsea,” Klopp said.
“If we can avoid as long as possible then you do it, but all the rest, it was clear we would face a tough opponent.”
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