Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool’s progression to the Europa League final is vindication of his decision to persist with the players that received fierce criticism under his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers.
One of them, Divock Origi, has a good chance of featuring on the substitutes’ bench having recovered from the ankle injury that was expected to rule him out for the rest of the season two weeks quicker than expected.
“When I came here there was big doubt about these players,” he said “Now they have the opportunity to achieve something great. Let’s try it.
“I’m happy about the difficult moments we’ve had in this competition. We have found solutions. This team has developed really well.
“It’s a very important step tomorrow. I came here because I was really convinced about the quality of these players. I was the only person.”
Klopp insists he does not feel any burden of expectation as he attempts to beat Sevilla who have featured in the competition’s final on four occasions over the last decade, winning each time.
“I don’t feel pressure, I feel opportunity,” he added. “The pressure is developing these players day after day, week after week.
“Tomorrow is a very important step, though. I am pretty sure if we don’t win the title nobody will think the season is a success. For me a lot of things are in these seven months. But if you look back in 100 years nobody would say ‘that was cool’ but this isn’t the moment to judge. Winning tomorrow will make it much easier for you to say this season has been a success. I will try to help.”
Klopp was clear about what he expects from the Liverpool team he selects.
“Being organised, being brave, being patient enough to get the opportunity to earn the last pass; being ready to make mistakes when the whole world is watching and being able to react: these are the things we must do,” he concluded. “Sevilla will try to do these things as well, of course, but if we do them better we have a real chance.”
Jordan Henderson, the captain, who returned from injury in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion, is expected to feature in the squad. He credited Klopp with turning Liverpool’s fortunes around.
“Since the manager has come in, he’s put a spirit, a belief and a mentality through not only the players but the fans and the whole club. I think that’s built across the seven months he’s been here. Every single player has gone up a couple of levels. Now we are here in a European final: on a big stage.”