Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has instructed his players to forget about their slender away-goal advantage ahead of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against his former club Borussia Dortmund.
Liverpool secured a 1-1 draw in last week’s first leg in Germany, with Divock Origi’s first-half opener for the visitors cancelled out by a header from Mats Hummels.
But with Dortmund having plundered 119 goals in all competitions this season, Klopp does not expect Origi’s goal to prove decisive.
“I think we can ignore the first leg,” said the German, for whom the Europa League represents the last chance to crown his maiden season with a piece of silverware.
“This Dortmund team can score goals. They are not an opponent where you can go into a game thinking we can keep a clean sheet. Maybe after 85 minutes it (the away goal) will be relevant, but not earlier.
“It is a completely normal game and the crowd is more of an advantage if we are good and if they like the game they will help us more than the goal in Dortmund.
“Only when we play 0-0 it is a real advantage. If we win we don’t need it; if we lose it isn’t helpful.
“This is a new start and we will see who handles the situation better. Who is more clear in their offensive action, who is more disciplined in defense, who is brave enough to take a chance?
“In my opinion the atmosphere will be the biggest difference.”
The first leg took place amid a fervent atmosphere at the Westfalenstadion, where kick-off was preceded by a stirring communal rendition of the clubs’ shared anthem, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
– Dortmund ‘here to attack’ –
Scarves will be held aloft and the words of the 1945 show tune belted out again at Anfield on Thursday, while there will also be a pre-match minute’s silence to mark the 27th anniversary of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives.
In addition, supporters of both clubs will hold up colored mosaics forming ’96’.
On the pitch, Klopp’s most pressing selection dilemma concerns whether to keep faith with Daniel Sturridge up front or turn back to Origi, who followed up his goal in Dortmund with a brace in Sunday’s 4-1 defeat of Stoke City after coming on in place of Sturridge.
Captain Jordan Henderson will be absent after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in the first leg, with fellow England midfielder James Milner in line to inherit the armband.
Dortmund went into the tie as competition favorites, but struggled to cope with Liverpool’s pressing and were then held to a 2-2 draw by hated local rivals Schalke at the weekend that left them seven points below leaders Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel used the opportunity to rest eight first-team players, including star forwards Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and will restore his big guns to his starting line-up on Thursday.
Like Klopp, whom he succeeded as head coach at first Mainz and then Dortmund, Tuchel has played down the significance of the first leg.
“I don’t care too much about the result in the first leg. I don’t think it will be that decisive,” he said.
“We are here to attack, we are here to score goals, to take risks and to enjoy the game. We are not here to feel our boundaries. We are here to feel our potential.
“We are clear we will have to play our best, but we feel ready for it. We don’t want to score one — we want two or even more.”
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