Salah's out but Reds not giving up

Manager Jurgen Klopp admits he has a lot of decisions to make with Liverpool playing their third match in six days when they face Barcelona at Anfield in the Champions League today .
Manager Jurgen Klopp admits he has a lot of decisions to make with Liverpool playing their third match in six days when they face Barcelona at Anfield in the Champions League today .PHOTO: REUTERS

Klopp vows to 'try 100 per cent' to overcome three-goal deficit without Egyptian, Firmino

LONDON • The talk after last week's 3-0 Champions League humbling by Barcelona is that should Liverpool manage to claw back the deficit today, it would rival 2005's "Miracle of Istanbul".

However, after Jurgen Klopp revealed that top scorer Mohamed Salah will miss the second leg of their semi-final tie, it would "be the greatest comeback of them all, no question" if the Reds reach their second straight final.

The Liverpool boss dropped the bombshell at his pre-match press conference yesterday, confirming the Egypt forward, who has 26 goals in all competitions this season, had failed to recover from his head knock suffered in their 3-2 Premier League victory at Newcastle on Saturday.

Klopp said: "It's a concussion so that means he would not even be allowed to play. So that's it.

"He feels okay, but it is not good enough from a medical point of view, that is all. He's desperate (to play) everything, but we cannot do it."

The loss of another member of his "Fab Three" - Brazil forward Roberto Firmino, who has 16 goals for the term and was ruled out earlier - represents a hammer blow to Liverpool's hopes of a second consecutive European Cup final.

However, while Klopp admitted "it doesn't make life easier", he will not be waving the white flag and field a weakened side, with his team in contention to end a 29-year English league title drought ahead of the final round of Premier League matches this Sunday.

MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB

Two of the world's best strikers are not available tomorrow night and we have to score four goals against Barca to go through after 90 minutes. But, as long as we have 11 players on the pitch, we will try it.

'' JURGEN KLOPP, on the task at hand.


REDS NEED FAST START

Ideally, you score in the opening 15 minutes and put real doubt in the minds of the Barcelona players. If that happens, then I wouldn't rule anything out.

'' KENNY DALGLISH, former European Cup winner with Liverpool, identifying a glimmer of hope.

The German said: "Two of the world's best strikers are not available tomorrow night and we have to score four goals against Barca to go through after 90 minutes.

"But, as long as we have 11 players on the pitch, we will try it."

Liverpool have a rich history of stunning comebacks in European football, most famously lifting the Champions League trophy in 2005 after trailing 3-0 to AC Milan at half-time of the final.

But the 51-year-old is fully aware of the difficulty of not just scoring at least three against the Spanish champions - only two teams in the competition's history, Roma last year and Deportivo La Coruna in 2004, have overhauled a three-goal advantage after the first leg.

Liverpool must also prevent players like Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez from scoring as that would leave them needing at least five goals to progress.

Klopp added: "I imagine the place will be rocking even before we score to be honest, but we not only have to score, we also have to deny Barcelona from scoring.

"It doesn't happen too often that Barcelona don't score at all. We know how big the challenge is. This team are so wonderful we will try 100 per cent, but that doesn't mean it will all work out."

However, with Wolves visiting this Sunday, Klopp did concede "we have to make a lot of decisions".

He said: "Tomorrow night will be the third game in six days and Barcelona changed 11 positions on Saturday, so that is a massive difference as well of course.

 
 

"Together with our supporters, it was a long season and there is at least a little chance to make it even longer.

"But, if not, these are the last two home games of an incredible season and we should celebrate that with a good performance on the pitch and a very, very good performance in the stands."

Reds great Kenny Dalglish believes Klopp's men can pull off the unthinkable as "the backing from the home support will drive the players on".

Highlighting "the key to it all is getting the first goal", the former Liverpool manager told Scottish daily The Sunday Post: "Of course, it's hard to see any team scoring four against Barca to get through.

"But I do think the tie is still open, and there remains a glimmer of hope. It would be foolish to say the tie is over.

"Ideally, you score in the opening 15 minutes and put real doubt in the minds of the Barcelona players. If that happens, then I wouldn't rule anything out."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIVERPOOL V BARCELONA

Singtel TV Ch110 & StarHub Ch214, tomorrow, 2.55am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2019, with the headline 'Salah's out but Reds not giving up'. Print Edition | Subscribe