Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday that Juventus and Bayern Munich may have underestimated Villarreal, but his team will not make the same mistake when the two sides meet in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final this week.
Villarreal have been a surprise in the competition this season, having beaten European giants Juventus and Bayern in the knockout stages to reach the Champions League semi-finals 16 years ago.
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“Maybe there was a slight advantage [for Villarreal] Juventus or Bayern Munich may have underestimated them but that won’t happen with us. “They want to be part of the final, but it’s just as important for us,” Klopp told reporters ahead of the match at Anfield on Wednesday.
“It’s special. It’s crazy – a huge game. A lot of coaches and players work their whole lives and never even come close to it. We have to cherish it and enjoy it.”
Klopp praised his counterpart Unai Emery, describing him as a “world-class coach” and his squad adept at handling different playing situations.
“We have analyzed Villarreal correctly. I have the proper respect for Unai and they are. I watched them correctly and fantastic! Amazing. He is a manager who is obsessed with detail. Different ways of pressing and responding to different results.”
Liverpool last appeared at this stage of the competition three years ago, against Barcelona, and Klopp said support at home, which helped them overcome a 3-0 deficit from the first leg in 2019, would be crucial.
“We need a similar atmosphere and a great performance. I need to be on top of my game, and so are the boys, that’s fine. If the semi-finals in this competition were easy, then something would really be wrong. I can’t wait for it honestly,” he said.
“There are moments when we struggle and I know that. We don’t need the stress but we can make them suffer too.”
Liverpool has the chance to win an unprecedented four-way this season, after already winning the League Cup and reaching the FA Cup final, while Manchester City follows the Premier League leaders by one point with five games.
“It’s very special…how we reacted last year was very special in itself but there is still a long way to go. I know how fast football can change,” he said.