A first-ever clash with German giants Bayern Munich would normally raise the roof off Anfield, but after a flat evening in the famous old stadium, it is perhaps matches closer to home to come that are higher on the Liverpool agenda.
Anfield’s atmosphere requires no further eulogy. Down the years the famous Anfield Kop has become folklore the world over, with the seemingly never-ending terrace awash with colour and booming noise on many a European night.
Against Bayern Munich, a side with five European Cup/Champions League crowns to their name – bettered only by Real Madrid and AC Milan and on par with Liverpool and Barcelona – the Anfield masses were expected to be as vociferous as ever, thus inspiring their high octane side to another famous European victory.
However, the noise was anything but deafening, and the action, after a promising start, was as flat at Anfield as it has been all season, with a maiden Premier League crown, perhaps, too difficult to put to the back of their minds.
In the match programme, Klopp, as he often does, was full of praise for Liverpool fans, and highlighted the gravitas of the occasion against a team of Bayern’s stature. Captain Jordan Henderson, though, went one further in his pre-match rallying cry.
“Bayern Munich, coming to Anfield in the knockout stages, can’t help but get the juices flowing for the team and supporters alike,” Henderson wrote in the match programme. “If a fixture sums up why we want to be playing in the Champions League, season after season, it is one like tonight’s.”
There was also the added spice of Klopp coming up against his former foe Bayern – a club who stand for everything he doesn’t, who snatched several of Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund players during his time in Germany, and also broke Dortmund hearts in the 2013 Champions League final.
With so much riding on this blockbuster Champions League fixture, much was expected, with appetites still whet from Liverpool’s incredible double-header with Manchester City in last season’s Champions League. The reality, though, was disappointing in the extreme.
“As long as we beat United, I don’t care” was overheard on the walk over a damp Stanley Park as fans trudged to Anfield, and after Liverpool, who mustered just two shots on target at Anfield, and retreated into their half in the second half against Bayern – something they seldom too – perhaps the players are thinking along the same lines.
Sunday’s trip to Manchester could really go a long way to deciding where this season’s Premier League title will lie. United will be more than up for the encounter, and are a different side under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United now have top four aspirations of their own to consider, but the real motivation, for the fans at the very least, will be preventing Liverpool going one step closer to that maiden Premier League title.
Liverpool fans enjoyed their Champions League adventure last season, and would obviously love to go one better this time around, but their sensational 2005 Champions League triumph is still fresh in many a fan’s minds. Now, on the red half of Merseyside, they want that Premier League crown.
“It is not the result or the game we dreamed of,” Klopp said after the match. “In Germany we say it is like the Homburger Shooting, a big ballyhoo before the game and then not really a lot of things happen in the game.
“Now we have to recover and have to prepare Manchester United and they are obviously in a good shape, which we all saw yesterday. I don’t think about it now but I know it will come and now we start preparing that game.”
Klopp revealed that he is, in fact, thinking about United by simply admitting he watched their performance against Chelsea, the night before a huge Champions League knockout encounter.
A draw and a clean sheet against Bayern is by no means a bad result, but this was not the usual Liverpool performance, especially on the grandest of occasions, from fans and players alike. At Old Trafford on Sunday, though, expect energy levels to be very different indeed.