Liverpool to be defined by cup final
A win would banish the Reds' status as nearly men, while a loss will cast doubts on manager Klopp
Juergen Klopp wanted Liverpool to stop carrying history upon their shoulders.
A previously unparalleled honour roll was not a millstone around the necks of Anfield's latest incumbents; it was a backpack whose sepia-drenched straps invariably cut into their skins.
Countless times before, glory has beckoned but seldom been realised in recent times; every cup final reached and EPL title challenge mounted has reached an inglorious conclusion.
Over two-and-a-half years since the German's inaugural address, however, the times may finally be about to change in the form of a Champions League showdown with Real Madrid.
"When I came to this club, I already knew the history," Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum told The New Paper.
"I know that they won a lot of trophies, but that it was difficult for them the last couple of years to win something. Before I came, they reached the Europa League final but, unfortunately, they lost against Sevilla.
"So when I came here, I wanted to help this club win more trophies than they already have. I came here dreaming about moments like this."
History continues to bear down on Liverpool. No club remains more defined by it, particularly where Europe's elite club competition is concerned.
The Kiev showdown on Sunday morning (Singapore time) offers Klopp's side a chance to finally banish their nearly-men status.
In previous seasons, they have become a perennial afterthought; forced to scrap for the bare minimum, while the likes of Real have continued to scoop the top honours.
A fine line between springboard and shortfall stands before the Reds at Kiev's Olympic Stadium. Lifting a sixth continental crown would provide the perfect footing for sustainable success. Losing the third final in two years under Klopp would cast fresh doubts.
"If they can continue to keep their best players and build with one or two marquee players that winning the Champions League would bring, then they're set," said ex-Liverpool striker Stan Collymore.
"But the most important thing next season is Manchester City set the bar in terms of how few games that they lost. Liverpool are going to have to match that.
"It's not about the number of goals they score or how entertaining they are, it's about how many clean sheets they can keep."
Liverpool's problem is that they have never followed either logic or script. Even this run to the showpiece in the Ukrainian capital has been characterised by an uncompromising brand of carefree football which has proved to be devastating and self-inflicting in equal measure.
And therein lies an all too familiar conundrum for Klopp.
Harnessing the hurt of their Europa League defeat by Sevilla ultimately paved the way for a shot at disrupting Real's current stranglehold on the European Cup but, with it, also comes further potential scrutiny.
Taking Liverpool to a second continental final in three campaigns is no mean feat, especially when the former came from the standing start of a mid-season arrival.
Losing a sixth successive showpiece in his managerial career would again undermine the achievement.
Potential victory ensures that Anfield's glorious past is never far from the minds of the current crop.
"If you take Kenny Dalglish, I don't think that one Champions League win will bring you up with Kenny Dalglish," added Wijnaldum.
"You have to play a lot more games for Liverpool and win a lot of games and basically help the club win things. Then you will come with the really big legends.
"Of course, if you win a Champions League, how many players can say that they've won a Champions League? There are not a lot."
Escaping the Shankly Gates' overarching shadow may prove easier said than done in the long term, but Liverpool and Klopp have their greatest chance to at least bask in its afterglow.