Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp urged his players to write themselves into the club’s storied European history when they face runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.
While City currently have the upper hand domestically as they sit 18 points clear of third-placed Liverpool in the Premier League and just one win away from a third title in seven seasons, five-time European champions Liverpool have far more pedigree in continental competition.
However, the Reds haven’t reached the Champions League last four for a decade and Klopp wants modern day memories created at Anfield.
“This club is already so full of history and we have to write our own history,” said the German on Tuesday when quizzed whether he was seeking inspiration from Liverpool’s glory days in Europe.
“People meet me in the street and they can tell me each goal Liverpool who scored 37 years ago in the 56th minute… we need to be proud of our history but we need to create our own history.
“I did that a lot in the past with my former teams, but at one point you need to do your own things. The boys are ready, they are really looking forward to it.”
City can wrap up the title earlier than any team has before if they beat local rivals Manchester United on Saturday, with Pep Guardiola’s men’s march to the finish line drawing comparisons with the all-time great Premier League sides.
However, their only league defeat of the season came at Anfield in a thrilling 4-3 Liverpool win in January and Klopp welcomed the challenge.
“I like the difficult jobs, that is the most interesting thing for a manager,” added Klopp.
“What to do in this or that moment? How to prepare your boys as good as possible from the mental and physical side?”
Guardiola has won all seven of his previous Champions League quarter-finals as a coach at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
However, no opposing coach has beaten Guardiola more in his trophy-laden career than Klopp. In 12 previous meetings, Klopp has six wins to Guardiola’s five.
The Liverpool boss played down the significance of that personal record, but did cite it as reason to believe that beating what he described as possibly the best side in Europe at the moment is feasible.
“I didn’t beat Pep, my teams did and I was lucky with them doing what they did,” said Klopp.
“It’s really difficult, but I think we can beat the best. But only if we work really hard and smart.”
Klopp confirmed centre-back Joel Matip will miss the rest of the season with a thigh injury, while Adam Lallana will miss both legs against City due to a hamstring injury suffered in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.
German midfielder Emre Can missed that match and remains a doubt with a back injury