Klopp's calm as Liverpool stand on the cusp of being world champions
European kings Liverpool are just one match away from being elevated to world champions, but Juergen Klopp has refused to entertain talk of his players being labelled as legends.
As far as the German is concerned, the Reds are in Doha to win it as Liverpool FC, for themselves and for their fans.
The English Premier League leaders face South American champions Flamengo in the Club World Cup final on Sunday morning (Dec 22, Singapore time), with both sides looking to win the trophy for the first time in history.
Perhaps Klopp’s comments were aimed at easing the pressure on his side, in a competition that has been dominated by the team from Europe, but he refused to be drawn in on any superlatives surrounding his side.
Klopp, who also confirmed Virgil van Dijk's return to training from illness, said at the pre-match conference: “It's not something I will use in a meeting, 'you can become a legend', that all keeps your mind off (the game). You cannot go for being seen as a legend, we have to just win the football games.
“The situation is different for Flamengo and us. Flamengo got sent here with a clear order to win it and come back as heroes, we got told to stay at home and play the (League) Cup. But we are here, my team wants to win the competition and Liverpool fans want us to win the competition.
“We are not here as European champions and to show everyone that Europe is superior to the rest of the world. We are here as Liverpool and to win a football game.”
Klopp’s coolness ahead of a final is in stark contrast to his emotional nature in the dugout at times. The 52-year-old said he has learnt to be “calmer than I used to be”.
He said: “I have developed as a person. I don’t get nervous or overly excited, it’s a good thing from age. I am a better coach than when I started, 100 per cent.”
Klopp’s nemesis in the opposite dugout, Jorge Jesus, meanwhile, is enjoying a renaissance in his coaching career at the age of 65.
Since taking over at Flamengo, the Portuguese has led the side to a sensational league campaign in the Brazilian top flight. Flamengo won the league by 16 points and scored 86 goals while doing so.
They then booked their spot in Doha after winning the regional Libertadores Cup.
They have several former and current Brazil internationals in their rank and file, most notably former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea left-back Filipe Luis and former Bayern Munich right-back Rafinha.
Reds goalkeeper Alisson is looking forward to a stiff contest against his compatriots. Unlike his manager, the Brazilian was keen to spell out his and his side’s motivations ahead of the final – to realise a childhood dream of lifting the Cup and making history.
Said Alisson: “We are expecting a great game against a great side. I still follow Brazilian football and Flamengo is a team that you enjoy watching. They’ll be great opponents for us.
“I’m excited to be here and playing in the Club World Cup. I have always dreamt of winning it. It’s a big competition for Brazilians and the teams involved are all here because they won big competitions around the world.
“It’s important for us to be here because we have a chance to put our name in the history of the club by winning it for the first time.”