Jurgen Klopp has primed Liverpool to end Lionel Messi’s Champions League dream – but has warned his players must be ready to suffer.
Barcelona’s incomparable captain made a promise last September to ‘bring that beautiful trophy’ back to the Nou Camp and Catalan confidence is high ahead of the semi-final first leg.
But Liverpool want to reach the final for the second consecutive year and Klopp is confident the player he calls ‘the world’s best’ will not have things all his own way.
Klopp said: ‘Messi said that they wanted to bring back this cup. That sounded already like a threat to me! Now we are here, we want to go to the final as well.
‘It is not only about Messi, but it is about Messi of course. Can we concentrate on Messi? We should, in certain moments. But then they have 10 world class players around who can decide the game.
‘They have the highest quality team, they are already Spanish champions. It is home advantage for Barcelona first and we have the home advantage next Tuesday. We will see who can use the advantage more.’
Liverpool’s manager hopes Roberto Firmino will be fit to play after recovering from a groin issue and he will come up against Philippe Countinho for the first time since his £146million sale in January 2018.
‘Yes, we miss Countinho a lot because he is a world-class player and I loved working with him,’ said Klopp. ‘But we had to deal without him and we did well.
‘When I first heard he wanted to go to Barcelona I couldn’t imagine we would do that good but we did.
‘You want difficult games in football because that means you play for something. We won’t be perfect tomorrow (on Wednesday), we will make mistakes, we will suffer, 100 per cent. ‘We can’t be completely free to play that game. I know people made out that we became better in the last couple of years.
‘They say Barcelona is not the same without Xavi or Iniesta. We have been here for two years, they have been here for 20 years. ‘It will be so difficult but I couldn’t be more excited to play and I hope I can transport my players to they feel the same.’