Jurgen Klopp takes scant comfort in Liverpool’s ‘best’ Champions League display after 3-0 Barcelona defeat: ‘I don’t know if we can play much better’
Liverpool need to summon a miracle to stay in Europe after Lionel Messi played like a man on mission to win the Champions League.
Messi scored twice – the second being a 30-yard free-kick – as Barcelona built up a 3-0 first leg lead that makes them odds on favourites to reach the final on June 1. Jurgen Klopp looked despondent as he faced the media afterwards and accepted the difficulties his side face.
Klopp was not prepared to submit completely. He knows that Anfield has the potential to be a huge factor in the return leg next Tuesday. But the fact Liverpool failed to score an away goal has made things complicated and their manager knows it.
Jurgen Klopp admitted that Liverpool could not have played much better against Barcelona
The German congratulated the Barcelona players after they beat his side 3-0 on Wednesday
‘I’m not sure that we deserved a lot,’ said Klopp, who saw Luis Suarez give Barcelona the lead in the 26th minute.
‘They scored three, we didn’t and you have to accept it. As a manager, it is always very important how we played. It is the best we have played in the Champions League.
‘It is football, yes. But before this game we had a bigger chance, let me say it like this. It is difficult it is Barcelona and they can play for counter attacks which doesn’t help us a lot. It is football and we should still try but it didn’t make our life easier.
‘It is not the night to be mouthy and saying it was exactly what we wanted, if we score an early goal and all that s***… it will be another really difficult game. Whatever happens, I could not be more proud of them. It is just how they always strike back. It is still 3-0 and that will not change.’
The decisive moment in the contest could prove to be the passage of play that saw Messi score his free-kick and then Mohamed Salah strike a post from six yards following good work by substitute Roberto Firmino.
Alisson was well beaten by a spectacular Lionel Messi free-kick during the second half
Liverpool did have opportunities, particularly in the second half when James Milner (twice) went close and Salah struck the woodwork. They were, however, susceptible to counterattacks and in the final seconds, a save from Alisson Becker prevented the hosts scoring a fourth.
‘Obviously our season is for close, tight decisions,’ said Klopp. ‘3-1 would be a better result and i would feel slightly different in this moment but it is 3-0. It showed we can have chances and these boys never give up. I love them but there is no party at the moment.
‘No one thinks halfway through we have to use that game for a lot of things but at the moment we are just disappointed about the result. There will be a moment when i can convince the boys again how important this game was for our development.
‘I really think this was our best Champions League away performance. That is another important message for us not the world outside because they look at the result.’
Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League last season after Roma overturned a 4-1 first leg deficit in the quarter-finals and Messi is taking nothing for granted given Anfield’s history in these occasions.
Klopp saluted the travelling supporters but accepted that the team must learn from the defeat
Messi and Klopp shared a brief embrace and the German was full of praise for the striker
‘We were so close to the fourth goal at the end,’ said Messi, who described his free-kick as being ‘spectacular’.
‘The 3-0 is a very good result but it’s not definite because we are going to a great stadium where the crowd will really get behind their team.
‘At the start we got drawn into their sort of very physical game and we are not used to it and that’s why we found it difficult at times early on. It’s important that we did not concede. An away goal gives you so much. It was a spectacular free-kick. I’m was so happy to see it go in.’
Former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho was barracked by the home crowd after a limp performance and was substituted after 60 minutes. The response to angered Messi, who criticised the Nou Camp fans.
‘It’s ugly that they whistle a team-mate like this,’ said Messi, who has now scored against every English team he has faced in a career haul of 600. ‘We are all in this together. We have to be united to the end because we are close to are objective now.’