FC Porto vs Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp’s serene approach makes double for Reds entirely logical

Miguel Delaney
The Independent

As mayhem engulfed the rest of the Champions League, and the rest of the football world was so energised by what was happening in Manchester, Jurgen Klopp was naturally asked about how different things were in Porto. And, by extension, how different things now are with Liverpool.

The “crazy game” that Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur were involved in was exactly the type of chaos that Jurgen Klopp’s side made their trademark last season, and arguably propelled them towards the final.

There was just such a frenetic energy, and it was one of their primary qualities.

This, by contrast – and in stark contrast to the stunning events at the Etihad – was so serene. So business-like.

But that in itself is a primary reason why Liverpool have reached a second successive Champions League semi-final, and why they have set up the area’s most seismic football week in decades. Maybe ever, when you really take it all on.

Because, in the space of a few days in the second week in May, Liverpool are going to have a Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona, very quickly followed by the final home game of the Premier League season – that could well deliver their first title in 29 years.

The wait for that trophy has meant so much, and of course only infuses the wait for that week.

A match against the best team in the world before maybe the greatest emotional release in the club’s history.

Liverpool celebrate their second goal of the night (AFP/Getty)
Liverpool celebrate their second goal of the night (AFP/Getty)

Except, many might dispute the former. Porto manager Sergio Conceicao certainly would.

On the eve of his side’s match against Liverpool, he described them as “the best team in the world”.

On the night itself, he got ample evidence. A 4-1 win away to a side like Porto, who are a lot better than perception and that very scoreline would suggest, is quite a statement.

And yet that the display was not quite as effervescent as 4-1 would suggest is a positive, too.

Fabinho and Sadio Mane celebrate (Getty)
Fabinho and Sadio Mane celebrate (Getty)

This was really just a case of doing every different element of the game right: defending well, finishing well.

There are few sides who do that to this level. There is now just high quality in every department.

Hence the serenity of this match potentially raising the excitement.

It is commonly said that this is a rare opportunity for Liverpool to win the title, but it may be a great opportunity to win the Champions League, and is thereby an even rarer opportunity for – yes – a double.

They should be really fancying their chances.

The league table illustrates that they’re of course a better team than Tottenham Hotspur.

They’re also so much more mature than Ajax.

To face either, they have to get past Barca, but that isn’t as daunting as it would usually be.

To illustrate one stark contrast, it’s a long time since the Liverpool defence has so struggled with pace in the manner the Barca backline did with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. There is a weakness to be exploited there, that the Catalans have so far covered with their contained passing, but that can be spring by the speed of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

This is why Liverpool are probably a more complete team than Barca. They have a higher level of quality in different areas.

They don’t, however, have Leo Messi. He’s the big differential, capable of making any time the greatest on any given day, regardless of anything else. He is also capable of exploding any serenity, with the serene approach of his own.

Jurgen Klopp in the Portugal rain (Getty)
Jurgen Klopp in the Portugal rain (Getty)

He can change anything.

It’s why Liverpool must try and somehow chain him. With that defence, and that solidity, they’re far better equipped to do it than most, though.

Klopp was asked about that, only to dwell on something else.

“I’ve never played Barcelona in a proper game, so it’s my first time there. I’m looking forward to it… Unbelievable, in the semi-final. We are the second time in a row in the semis – that’s really something crazy.”

Except, by now, there’s nothing crazy about it.

Their solidity has made it entirely logical.

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