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- Liverpool defeated Barcelona in dramatic fashion on Tuesday, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 on aggregate and advance to the Champions League final.
- Ahead of the match, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gave his team an interesting bit of motivation, asking them to try, and if they couldn’t succeed, then to “fail in the most beautiful way.”
- Klopp’s pep talk worked wonders, and after the match, midfielder Jordan Henderson would credit Klopp’s speech as critical to the team’s brilliant effort.
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On Tuesday, Liverpool completed one of the biggest comebacks in recent memory, erasing a 3-0 deficit in the Champions League semifinal to take down Barcelona in dramatic fashion.
It was a wild effort from Liverpool, with three goals coming in the first 60 minutes of the match to tie the score on aggregate, and then one sneaky corner kick that led to the game-winning goal, completing a comeback that seemed impossible just hours before.
After dropping the first leg of the semifinal 3-0 at Camp Nou, and with two of the team’s star scorers Mohamed Salah and Firmino out due to injury, even manager Jurgen Klopp was ready to admit that his team’s chances were slim, prompting him to give his players a stirring, but somewhat quizzical bit of advice ahead of the match.
Rather than implore his team that they could undoubtedly do the impossible, Klopp took a more stoic approach to hyping up his team.
“We want to celebrate the Champions League campaign, either with a proper finish or another goal,” Klopp explained to the Guardian the day before the match. “That is the plan: just try. If we can do it, wonderful. If not, then fail in the most beautiful way.”
Klopp went on to explain that from his career in soccer, he has learned that a chance is all you need.
“I had these games quite a few times,” Klopp said. “In my experience, it’s not that before the game you think: ‘Yes, I believe we will do it.’ But I’m completely fine with the chance. Less than them, but we have at least a chance.”
That belief was shared by Salah, who sported a shirt on the sideline that read “NEVER GIVE UP” as he cheered on his teammates.
After a quick opening goal, it seemed the crowd and Anfield believed in their team’s chance as well, and after three more goals and a clean sheet, Liverpool was through to the final in shocking fashion.
When the comeback was complete, midfielder Jordan Henderson credited Klopp’s belief as the team’s inspiration to fight even when their backs were against the wall.
“From the talk he gave before the game before we came to the stadium, I think the players could see that the manager believed, which helped us believe in what he said. He said we can enjoy the night and maybe tell the grandkids one day it was a special night.”
Klopp on the other hand, gave all the glory to his players after the match.
“These boys are f—ing giants,” Klopp told reporters. “Fine me for swearing if you want. These boys are giants.”
With the win, Liverpool is through to the Champions League final for the second straight season. No matter how daunting a task winning that match proves to be, their performance in the semifinal proves that Liverpool is up to the challenge.
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