Jurgen Klopp explains why Club World Cup success means everything to Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp never doubted the mentality of his Liverpool players.
But Klopp admits he was reassured he did not need to tell them just how important this trophy is for a club which has won every other major honour.
Liverpool have won the European Cup six times in their glorious history but, incredibly, have never won the Club World Cup, while their Brazilian opponents Flamengo view it as the biggest trophy in club football.
Klopp could see the potential for a fixture backlog several months ago in the middle of a Premier League title race and the Champions League as he contemplated spending a week in the Middle East just before Christmas.
Klopp said: “We spoke about it a few months ago and asked how did they want to play it.
“It wasn’t that they could decide but how do you see it? They said: ‘we go!’ Since then it’s never changed. For them it never changed.
“I never had to convince my team to come and play the competition. They were completely on fire from the first moment when they heard about it.
“The boys are 100 per cent clear, they didn’t need Ali (goalkeeper Alisson) telling them or Bobby (Roberto Firmino) telling them, or Fabinho telling them about the importance for them, they are footballers, they are sportsmen and they want to win everything they can.
“We are playing against a side from a country and continent where this competition means everything to everyone and, in England, we have to explain why we come here.
“That’s how Europe looks at the world, that we are the centre of attention.
“Since we are here we respect it more and more second by second because you get a feeling for it and you watch the games and it is all or nothing with everyone fighting for everything.
“We are here and we want to win the competition of course but we have to respect there is another team and they want to win it as well. That’s what we do.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher described losing the last Club World Cup final to Sao Paolo in 2005 as one of the biggest regrets of his career.
The last time Liverpool played Flamengo in the final was 1981 when the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Mark Lawrenson and Graeme Souness lost 3-0 after a chaotic journey to the final in Tokyo. They did not even bother entering in 1977 and 1978.
Klopp admits that he grew up in Germany not taking it particularly seriously but his attitude has changed and now he is desperate to add another piece of silverware in the Anfield trophy cabinet - even if he is not completely sure what it looks like.
Klopp added: “Winning it would be great and I don’t even know exactly know how the trophy looks but I didn’t know that about the Super Cup either.
“Before that, I didn’t know how people spoke about it... Before the game people said: ‘do you really need it?’ Then you play it and you win it and it feels incredible. It was really a big one. So let’s see what we can tomorrow.
“As a kid in Germany, I was not aware of it, no.
“You want to be the domestic champion, win a domestic cup and then want to win a European trophy and that’s what we want. That’s where football ends usually for the team.
“But really, you do not win something so people will say, ‘oh, you won it’. You win it to celebrate it, and I know Liverpool fans will celebrate like crazy, and other people will say, ‘who cares?’
“But I could not care less. I do not worry what it means to other people. Win because you are there. Let’s give it a proper try.”
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