Jurgen Klopp laughed off Sergio Conceicao’s suggestion that his Liverpool side can sometimes play like the best team in the world before the two resume battle on Wednesday night.
Liverpool are aiming to dump Porto out of the Champions League for a second year running and go into the second leg of their quarter-final at the Estadio do Dragao leading 2-0 from last week’s first leg at Anfield.
Porto boss Conceicao paid the Reds just about the ultimate compliment in the build-up to the match, saying this season they have often played like “the best team in the world”, but Klopp took it with a pinch of salt.
“Sometimes we are really good, it’s true,” Klopp said. “Hopefully we can show it again.
“It’s probably meant as a compliment but we still know we have a really tough job to do tomorrow and probably he said as well he believes in their chances too. Did he say that? Yes, then it’s all good.”
For all the talk of a potential Manchester City quadruple, Liverpool are still eyeing a Premier League and Champions League double, and James Milner said they needed to deliver for words like Conceicao’s to carry weight.
“It’s a compliment and you get those compliments by playing good football over a sustained period of time,” he said.
“But to be that you have to win trophies and that’s something we haven’t done yet. It’s something we’re trying to do this season.”
Milner knows about turning potential into silverware after helping Manchester City end their long wait for Premier League glory before joining Liverpool, and he believes the Reds have taken those steps over the last 12 months.
A string of late winners has provided a feeling of destiny in the Premier League – even if they remain locked in a tight battle with City – and Milner sees the same spirit in Europe.
“I think there’s a confidence within the squad but there’s not over-confidence and that’s very important,” he said.
“There are going to be times when you’re not playing your best football,” he said. “I think that’s impressed me more than when we’re playing well.
“We all know how well we can play. This year it’s when we haven’t played as well and we’ve had to grind it out and keep going to get that 90th-minute winner or dig out a clean sheet in tight games.
“There isn’t too much talk in the dressing room about what’s going on and what might happen. It’s how we’ve been all season. The mentality going into games is the same. That’s a massive positive.”
Exactly how they will approach Wednesday’s game remains to be seen. A 2-0 lead from the first leg makes them heavy favourites, but Porto have won all of their home games in the Champions League this season and Klopp is keen not to take them lightly.
Asked if it would be a night for heavy metal football or elevator music, he flashed a grin.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “That’s the one football question I do not answer. What we will do tomorrow, we will show on the pitch. Not in the press conference.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.