Klopp says his players are on fire as season enters final lap
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said his players are revelling in the pressure to win every game as they chase an English Premier League and Champions League double.
The Reds host Porto in the first leg of their European quarter-final tie tomorrow morning (Singapore time) after scoring late winners to beat Fulham, Tottenham and Southampton to edge two points ahead of Manchester City in the title race.
City still have a game in hand, meaning the title remains in the English champions' hands, and there is precious little room for error for the Reds in their remaining five league games.
But Klopp believes being in the running to win both competitions is inspiring his squad not to give up late in games.
"It's such a good time. We get up every morning and the weather is good as well which is pretty rare. It's warm outside, spring is coming and we are in the two big competitions, but we have to use the situation," he said yesterday.
"We have not finished the season, we have not finished our development.
"We want to write a few proper things on the pages of that season book. We are on fire to be honest, you can see it in training, but other teams as well. We all play for a lot."
After squeezing through a difficult group containing Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli on goals scored and overcoming German giants Bayern Munich in the last 16, Porto were seen as a softer draw in the last eight.
Liverpool thrashed the Portuguese side 5-0 in the first leg of last season's Champions League Round of 16, but Klopp said the tie is tougher than it seems.
"People around said so many things, 'you want Porto', they only look at numbers and names, stuff like that.
"People with a proper idea about football didn't want to have Porto, that's the truth. But nobody wanted Liverpool as well by the way."
He also warned that Sergio Conceicao's side would be motivated by last year's result, adding: "The advantage for us tomorrow night is that we play at home, the advantage for Porto is they can use the game last year as a motivation thing."
Klopp will be forced into a change at left-back, with Andy Robertson suspended, while Joe Gomez will not be rushed back into action despite returning to training after a lower leg fracture. Adam Lallana won't be available.
"Gomez won't play unless he has to. Lallana has just a little thing that kept him out for the weekend and maybe for tomorrow," the German said.
Liverpool have largely coped without Gomez, thanks to Virgil van Dijk's towering presence at the heart of a much-improved defence.
And the Dutchman believes he and his teammates will be able to hold their heads high, even if they fall short of ending a 29-year wait to win the EPL due to City's brilliance.
"Everyone is dreaming of it and the unlucky bit for us is another team in the league has been amazing as well," said van Dijk.
"For the neutral Premier League watcher, it is great viewing, it is nice to see two good teams challenging for the title.
"Hopefully, it can be something great at the end of the season, but we can hold our heads up very high." - AFP