Jürgen Klopp, 54, had already been informed that he was going on an interview tour. But he did not want to miss the greeting to the around 2,000 Liverpool supporters who had followed his team to Villarreal. Klopp walked in their direction, looked up at them, and what one could see from afar were shiny white teeth framed by a characteristic full beard. Klopp clenched his right fist and slammed it open – once, twice, three, four times. Then he patted himself on the chest where the heart is, put both hands to his mouth and let a kiss fly through the night. And you did not just see it, you noticed it: there on the almost deserted lawn, near the penalty area, was a completely happy man.
Klopp’s “Reds” had won 3-2 in Villarreal, and that means in addition to the 2-0 success in the first match: The six-time National Cup and Champions League winner Liverpool has the final for the tenth time in its history, the most important trophy in European club football . Klopp himself can look back on an impressive oeuvre with some pride: after 2013 (with Borussia Dortmund), 2018 and 2019, he will compete in the fourth final of his legendary coaching career. One man, Liverpool club legend Bob Paisley, had before Klopp managed to lead Liverpool to three Premier League finals – where Paisley also lifted the trophy in 1977, 1978 and 1981; So far, Klopp has “only” won in 2019.
Klopp can also still hope to win four titles this season. His team has already won the League Cup; they are promising in the league, face Chelsea in the FA Cup final and have now reached the Champions League final. “Enormous,” said Klopp. He told his players in advance that he would read the headline after the match: “The mentality monsters were in town!” He would sign on for it later for the second half, but not for the first half. Said it and jokingly wondered if they were called “mentalitare monstrosos” in Spanish. Which is certainly not the case. But who cared that night, at Kloppen in passing extended an impressive streak: the last three Champions League titles were won by German coaches: Klopp himself won in Madrid in 2019; In 2020, Hansi Flick inherited him with FC Bayern in Lisbon – and last summer, Thomas Tuchel led Chelsea FC in Porto to the biggest imaginable inauguration of club football.
Liverpool got a handle on the “football problems with football solutions”, which Klopp diagnosed after the break
Liverpool’s entry into the final corresponded to the logic that was the result of Liverpool’s history, the much higher budget and the performance at the home stadium. But behind it, the result hid a piece of work that Klopp’s team had apparently imagined more easily.
On a rainy day, where one could hardly have been surprised to have encountered a Noah who built a sheet on the way to the Estadio de La Cerámica – it was like that they red their weather – the start failed in an unexpected way. Villarreal took the lead after less than three minutes – through Boulaye Dia, who had only played the role of extra this season. And: It would not have been ruled out if referee Danny Makkelie had given a penalty kick in the 37th minute when Giovani Lo Celso and goalkeeper Alisson Becker collided in Liverpool’s penalty area. Alisson had literally rolled over Lo Celso; The referee found that Alisson played the ball first. Minutes after the highly controversial action, Villarreal took a 2-0 lead through Francis Coquelin (41 ‘).
Liverpool looked upset enough to think a third goal from Villarreal was plausible. Only: Liverpool escaped the fate that FC Bayern had suffered in the quarter-finals. Through the mentality sung about by Klopp. Above all though, because the team got their “football problems” from the first half under control “with football solutions”, as diagnosed by Klopp. They also had the outrageous luck, albeit only marginally, that Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno, who initially played brilliantly, suffered a muscle injury in the middle of the first half. “We could not take it emotionally,” Villarreal coach Unai Emery said.
“We did not have a problem in the first half, we had eleven problems,” said Klopp.
“I do not remember exactly what I said at the break,” Klopp explained, although his exchanges with the players revolved around the need to play better than in the first 45 minutes. Before the break, Klopp had asked his analysts to select a scene where Liverpool had behaved well to show the players on screen at the break. “Men Peter Krawietz (assistant coach; Note the editor) said: He found none. “
Klopp saw the reason for this in the early deficit, which paralyzed his team’s thoughts and his movements. “We did not have the right structure, we did not play in the right spaces, we suddenly started playing long balls to force it, we were too static …” Klopp complained. He broke that momentum by bringing Luis Díaz to Diogo Jota. Not that the Portuguese was the cause of all the evil in Liverpool, Klopp emphasized: “We did not have that in the first half. a Problem, we had eleven problems. “But it was clear that Díaz brought more agility and flexibility into the Liverpool game – which in turn had consequences for the entire midfield. Even at Fabinho, who until then had not only been with Thiago, but It’s playing into Liverpool’s cards that Villarreal’s goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli let himself fall out of dramatic proportions.
When Fabinho scored the first (62nd), he let a relatively harmless shot run through his legs. But what no one suspected was that this would only be the prelude to further errors from the Argentine goalkeeper and ultimately the hosts’ emotional breakdown. When Luis Díaz, meanwhile, equalized, Rulli slipped the ball through his legs again; as the score was 2-3, he ran almost without a rhyme or reason out of the penalty area, but was then given a corner kick by Sadio Mané, so the Senegalese only had to maneuver the ball into the empty net. Liverpool’s third goal made the rest of the match a matter of protocol. Back was a firing to Étienne Capoue. And the pride of Villarreal. “We showed we were not there by invitation,” coach Emery said. “But it hurts.” Klopp, on the other hand, can look forward to the Paris final, which will also be the 62nd of 62 possible matches for Liverpool this season. Much more is not possible.