Rome (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp warned that Liverpool would not let off-field distractions take the focus off their dream of reaching the Champions League final when they face Roma on Wednesday.
Klopp’s side are on the brink of reaching the final for the first time since 2007 as they look to defend a three-goal advantage in the Italian capital.
But tensions are high as Liverpool supporter Sean Cox lies in a coma after being attacked by Roma fans before last week’s first leg at Anfield, while Klopp’s right-hand man Zeljko Buvac, dubbed “the brain” by the German, took a leave of absence this week.
“We are here to fight for our dreams and want to go to the final,” said Klopp whose side take a 5-2 lead into the semi-final, second leg at the Stadio Olimpico.
“I think we all have the same opinion that the only fight around the football game is on the pitch.
“It’s good that we spoke about it, showed Sean’s family our support but I really hope that everybody understood that tomorrow in this beautiful city, with good weather, that everyone can walk to the stadium and look forward to an intense, fantastic and very important football game.
“I really hope that will be possible.”
Roma players trained on Tuesday wearing shirts bearing the words ‘Forza Sean’ in support of the injured Liverpool fan.
“It was a great, great, great gesture,” said Klopp.
“I already thought Roma showed a great gesture when training at Anfield and placing flowers at the memorial for the 96.
“These two teams deserve to be here because of football, because they show the maximum respect for the other side.”
Asked about Buvac, who has been linked with a move to Arsenal, Klopp added: “We gave a statement that is all we can say at the moment. Nothing else.”
Despite their advantage Klopp said Liverpool would not fall into the same trap as Barcelona who let a 4-1 quarter-final, first-leg lead slip to crash out in Rome last month.
“Barcelona probably thought ‘it’s decided’. Nobody told Barcelona it’s possible to beat you 3-0 or 4-0.
“If the warning was needed that was it. I didn’t need a warning.
“But we’re still 5-2 up. People think Roma only have to win 3-0 but that is quite a result.”
– ‘Take risks’ –
Roma have not conceded a goal at the Olimpico in the Champions League this season, beating both Chelsea and Barcelona 3-0.
“We’re not Chelsea or Barcelona, it’s not about who played when. We won 7-0 against Moscow at Anfield, what does that mean? Nothing,” said Klopp.
“Let’s not forget, we are difficult to play.
“They have to win against us, if you have to win you have to take risks.”
Liverpool beat Roma on penalties in the 1984 European Cup final at the Stadio Olimpico, and also won the 1977 title in Rome.
“The specific story of Liverpool games in Rome is great, but nobody here really thinks it’ll help a lot that our grandfathers won here.
“It’s just a game in a wonderful stadium, in a wonderful city against a very strong side. Creating history isn’t because you say it beforehand. It happens and then someone says, that’s history.”
Klopp added that his players were “fit and healthy” although Joe Gomez and Adam Lallana are unavailable, but Sadio Mane has recovered after missing the Stoke draw at the weekend.
“Strange things happened before in the Champions League,” said midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.
“Roma already showed they can turn things around against Barcelona and we already showed we can control a lead against Manchester City.
“We don’t have one foot in the final, you can only go with two feet in the final.”