Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has claimed people expected his team to carry their poor form into the Champions League against RB Leipzig this week and praised the Reds for rising to the occasion and coming away with a 2-0 win.
Leipzig, having knocked out Manchester United in the group stage and Tottenham at this stage last year, were a dangerous opponent. But Liverpool are now in a commanding position ahead of the return leg next month thanks to their aggregate lead.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane scored in quick succession early in the second half, with Liverpool edging control of possession and also making a number of Leipzig’s top players look ordinary.
"It was the game we wanted, the game we needed. Leipzig can be a real monster. The way they play in the Bundesliga, they overrun teams, they are really physical, pretty much good in everything, and we controlled them in an exceptional way,” Klopp told BT Sport.
“You cannot build ‘mentality giants’ in one game. We were good and deserved to win. A lot of people were waiting for us to slip again and the boys didn’t.
“For two years we've been really good and this year we have some problems. It's absolutely normal that the talk starts. I have no problem with that, it is just that a lot of people expected us to slip again because of the situation. But the boys didn’t and that’s what I’m really happy about.”
The return leg against Leipzig is scheduled for Wednesday 10 March in three weeks’ time. In the meantime, Liverpool face a tough challenge against Everton in the Merseyside derby, as well as further Premier League games against Sheffield United and Fulham before the previously packed out schedule begins to slightly relax.