Jurgen Klopp: Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal tests will define our season after Champions League exit | Football news

Liverpool exited the Champions League with a 6-2 aggregate defeat at Real Madrid, leaving the top four as their only target this season; Jurgen Klopp: “When we come back from the international break, we’re in for a real week of football”

12:13 UK Thursday 16 March 2023

Jurgen Klopp urged his Liverpool side to focus on a potentially defining run of Premier League games after they exited the Champions League with a 6-2 aggregate defeat at Real Madrid.

Liverpool needed a miracle to reach the quarter-finals after their 5-2 defeat at Anfield, but Karim Benzema’s late strike sealed another deserved win for the reigning champions.

Defeat means Liverpool’s only remaining aim this season is to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League in order to qualify for next year’s Champions League.

Klopp’s side are six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham after their 1-0 loss at Bournemouth on Saturday and do not play again until their Premier League clash with Manchester City after the upcoming international break on April 1.

Liverpool’s next six games

  • Manchester City (A) – Premier League, April 1, Saturday, start 12:30 p.m
  • Chelsea (A) – Premier League Tuesday April 4, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Arsenal (H) – Premier League Sunday April 9, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Leeds (A) – Premier League Monday 17 April, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Nottingham Forest (H) – Premier League, Saturday, April 22, kick-off 3:00 p.m
  • West Ham (A) – Premier League, April 26, Wednesday, kick-off 7:45 p.m

This game at the Etihad Stadium is followed by crucial meetings with resurgent Chelsea and leaders Arsenal, both live Sky Sports on April 4 and 9, respectively.

“If you want to win the competition you have to be outstanding and we weren’t tonight so the result is fair,” Klopp said of Wednesday’s Bernabeu defeat in his press conference.

“But of course it is, oncompetition and we want to be a part of it every year and that is the huge task now.

“When we come back from the international break we have a real week of football ahead of us with three games, City, Chelsea, Arsenal, which will probably determine what we get out of it.

“People will say we lost it at Bournemouth but this week is quite crucial.

“So we’ve got to hope the guys come back fit enough, in the right shape and we’ll have a go.”

Having already exited domestic cup competitions, Liverpool’s elimination from the Champions League guaranteed a trophyless season but Klopp insists they will do their best to finish as strong as possible in the Premier League to secure their target.

Alison made a great save on Vinicius Jr

“Our job is to squeeze absolutely everything out of this season as possible,” he added.

“It’s strange so far, just our last two games, a sensational performance against Man United, a very good football team, and a really bad performance against Bournemouth, again a good football team, but we must not lose this game.

“It put us under more pressure again. Three points and I think everyone would really feel it, smell our breath if you will.’

Klopp: The right team has gone through

Klopp was magnanimous in the Bernabeu defeat, admitting his side failed to produce the “special” performance needed to overturn a three-goal deficit and said Madrid deserved their place in the quarter-finals.

“To lose 5-2 is obviously not a great result and if you want to go through you have to have a really special performance and we couldn’t put in a special performance on the pitch tonight,” he told bt sports.

“It was an open game but Madrid had better chances. Alli had to make two sensational saves. In the end, the goal was weak, but that is clearly not decisive anymore.

Trent Alexander-Arnold tackles Vinicius Jr

“The right team went through that we have to admit. Madrid controlled the game, we gave them the opportunity to control it. The knockout stages are like that, there’s probably 500,000 different ways to go out, that was ours tonight. It’s not what we wanted, but it’s what we got. Now we must move on.

“You need moments. If we were to score in the first half, it might give an extra spark, but that’s hypothetical, we won’t know. Madrid were the better team and won the game. In three halves of the games, they were more good team, that’s how you move on to the next round.

“If you draw at home and play the game we played tonight then we’ll probably go out as well. We can’t come here and hope you get something. We prepared for a special performance, but we were unable to deliver it on the field tonight. It was obvious that the best side had passed.”

“Madrid defeat shows how far Liverpool have fallen”

John Cross of the Daily Mirror on the back pages of Sky Sports News:

“I think last season, even the season before, you would have really imagined that Liverpool would fight back and pull off another miracle like they have done in the past under Jurgen Klopp, but there was no sign of that tonight.

The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace and The Mirror’s John Cross cover Liverpool’s 6-2 aggregate defeat by Real Madrid

“The feeling is that they surrendered with a little whimper. We never felt this energy and intensity that we expected to start some kind of fightback. They had a few chances but Madrid had all the play and possession.

“It was a bit of a damp squib to be honest. There wasn’t a lot of history and that shows me how far they’ve fallen, considering they were the two best clubs in Europe last season.

“It was a very close final last year but Liverpool are now out of the Champions League and their best hope of getting back into this competition is the top four and they will really need it to start the rebuild that Jurgen Klopp wants.”

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