Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool must win trophies to be ranked among world's best: Klopp

Relaxed mood: Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno (left) and Mohamed Salah during training
Relaxed mood: Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno (left) and Mohamed Salah during training
Jurgen Klopp

By Ian Parker

Jurgen Klopp laughed off Sergio Conceicao's suggestion that his Liverpool side can sometimes play like the best team in the world before the two resume battle tonight.

Liverpool are aiming to dump Porto out of the Champions League for a second year running and go into the second leg of their quarter-final at the Estadio do Dragao leading 2-0 from last week's first leg at Anfield.

Porto boss Conceicao paid the Reds just about the ultimate compliment in the build-up to the match, saying this season they have often played like "the best team in the world", but Klopp took it with a pinch of salt.

"Sometimes we are really good, it's true," Klopp said. "Hopefully we can show it again.

"It's probably meant as a compliment but we still know we have a really tough job to do and he said as well he believes in their chances too."

For all the talk of a potential Manchester City quadruple, Liverpool are still eyeing a Premier League and Champions League double, and James Milner said they needed to deliver for words like Conceicao's to carry weight.

"It's a compliment and you get those compliments by playing good football over a sustained period of time," he said. "But to be that you have to win trophies and that's something we haven't done yet. It's something we're trying to do this season."

Milner knows about turning potential into silverware after helping City end their long wait for Premier League glory before joining Liverpool, and he believes the Reds have taken those steps over the last 12 months.

A string of late winners has provided a feeling of destiny in the Premier League - even if they remain locked in a tight battle with City - and Milner sees the same spirit in Europe.

"I think there's a confidence within the squad but there's not over-confidence and that's very important," he said. "There are going to be times when you're not playing your best. I think that's impressed me more than when we're playing well.

"We all know how well we can play. This year it's when we haven't played as well and we've had to grind it out and keep going to get that 90th-minute winner or dig out a clean sheet.

"There isn't too much talk in the dressing room about what's going on and what might happen. It's how we've been all season. The mentality going into games is the same. That's a massive positive."

How they will approach tonight's game remains to be seen. A 2-0 lead from the first leg makes them heavy favourites, but Porto have won all of their home games in the Champions League this season and Klopp is keen not to take them lightly.

Asked if it would be a night for heavy metal football or elevator music, he flashed a grin.

"I don't know yet," he said. "That's the one question I do not answer. What we will do, we will show on the pitch. Not in the press conference."

While Porto boss Conceicao will look forward to home advantage, he knows an away goal for the visitors could end the tie.

"The match is difficult to prepare for not only because it is 2-0, but also because Liverpool are very strong in attack," he said. "The balance we will need when we are attacking will be fundamental so that we do not concede any more goals."

But while the odds favour Liverpool, Porto captain Hector Herrera said his team-mates should take confidence from the fact they have only twice suffered defeat on home soil inside 90 minutes this season.

That record has them level on points with Benfica at the top of the table as they look to defend their title, meaning both teams are contesting this tie while caught in tense title races domestically.

"They are the favourites but I think that within our own championship we are a strong squad and we are champions from last year, and we are favourites (domestically) because of that," Herrera said.

"In the Champions League I think they have an advantage but with the ability we have as players and a squad, I'm confident. I believe we can have a good result to keep alive our dream in the Champions League."

Meanwhile, Liverpool have pledged to ban any fan found to have thrown a flare into the away end during Sunday's 2-0 victory against Chelsea.

The club have also condemned an "offensive" chant sung by their fans about the Stamford Bridge side.

Merseyside Police are investigating the flare incident, which resulted in a nine-year-old boy receiving medical treatment.

"Regrettably, a smoke device was thrown into the away section during the second half and we are actively working with Merseyside Police to investigate the matter," said a club spokesman. "Any person found to have committed this offence will be banned from our ground.

"The club is also concerned about a chant from some of our fans, specifically referencing Chelsea, as inappropriate and offensive. We would urge all Liverpool supporters to respect each other and stop such chants as they do not reflect the inclusivity that the club stands for.

"As a proud member of Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme, we are committed to LGBT equality and have contacted them and our own affiliated LBGT group Kop Outs for further support."

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