Reds will be on fire: Klopp

Liverpool players celebrating in the dressing room at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Wednesday after reaching the final of the Champions League with a 7-6 aggregate win over Roma. The Reds are chasing their sixth victory in Europe's elite club compet
Liverpool players celebrating in the dressing room at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Wednesday after reaching the final of the Champions League with a 7-6 aggregate win over Roma. The Reds are chasing their sixth victory in Europe's elite club competition and the first piece of silverware under Jurgen Klopp.PHOTO: TWITTER/ SMIGNOLET

Liverpool boss issues warning to Madrid after surviving Roma scare as Salah-Ronaldo showdown in final looms

ROME • Jurgen Klopp has told his Liverpool side that they must finish the job in Kiev by winning the Champions League after surviving a mighty scare from Roma on Wednesday.

Liverpool were beaten 4-2 at the Stadio Olimpico but advanced 7-6 on aggregate to the May 26 final where they will face Real Madrid.

And the Reds manager warned the two-time defending champions that his team will be "on fire" in Ukraine having weathered a Roma recovery in the second leg.

Real, who overcame Bayern Munich in the other semi-final, are in the final for the fourth time in last five years. Zinedine Zidane's side have retained a core group of players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, who have all been involved in lifting their last three European titles in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

"You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid," Klopp said. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals... They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire."

Scoring has not been an issue for the Reds in Europe's elite club competition this season.

  • 13 The 7-6 aggregate score made the Liverpool-Roma tie the highest-scoring semi-final in the Champions League era, overtaking Monaco-Juventus (4-6) in 1998.

    20 Liverpool have scored 20 away goals, equalling the record in a single Champions League season (Real Madrid 2013-14).

    £25m National Basketball Association superstar LeBron James' 2 per cent investment in Liverpool is now worth £25 million (S$45.3 million), according to ESPN, up from £4.8 million in April 2011.

The attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are the most lethal combination in the history of the competition with 29 goals.

When Mane opened the scoring in the ninth minute in Rome, he took his personal tally in the Champions League to nine. Salah and Firmino have each scored 10.

Together, they have surpassed the 28 scored by the Real triumvirate of Ronaldo, Benzema and Gareth Bale in the 2013-14 campaign.

Ronaldo tops the charts this term with 15 as the holders put 30 goals past opponents. Yet Liverpool, led by their own talisman and the Portuguese's 2018 Ballon d'Or rival Salah, have scored 40 goals - excluding the six in their two-legged qualifier against Hoffenheim. No team have ever netted more.

Even Real's Germany midfielder Toni Kroos has taken notice.

"This team surprised me (in the quarter-finals) against Manchester City, and impressed me very much," he told German magazine Kicker. "It's one match, and we are very much looking forward to it."

Liverpool reached those marks with a team that did not have a single senior midfielder among their substitutes on Wednesday, that had an academy graduate at right-back in 19-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold, that deployed a left-back - Andrew Robertson - who was playing in Scotland's lower leagues four years ago, and that had to bring on Ragnar Klavan - a seasoned professional, but hardly a world-beater - to see out the game.

"These boys are constantly over their limit," Klopp said.

Liverpool are now a step away from ending the club's six-year trophy drought and lift their first piece of silverware under Klopp's management, having lost the finals of the League Cup and Europa League in 2016.

"We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it," the German, beaten in his past five major finals, said. "People don't tell me in the street since then, 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me, 'Thank you'.

"I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, NY TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2018, with the headline 'Reds will be on fire: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe