Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday he was looking forward to Liverpool safely hosting Atletico Madrid with fans after the spectre of coronavirus hung over their Champions League clash last year.
The teams met in front of a full crowd at Anfield on March 11, 2020, with 3,000 travelling Atletico fans attending, even though the Covid-19 pandemic had already begun to sweep across Europe. Klopp opposed holding the game at the time, which proved to be the last top level football match held in England for three months.
Reds fans will pack Anfield on Wednesday after the U.K.’s mass vaccination programme facilitated the unrestricted return of spectators to sporting venues in England.
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“The world turned upside down. Not sure we could have imagined it, though we all had a sense that something interesting could happen. I didn’t know to what extent that night,” the Liverpool manager said.
“It was the one game, when I thought about it later, which I never thought about like a football game.”
Diego Simeone’s Atletico won 3-2 after extra time to record a 4-2 aggregate victory against the then defending European champion but lost to Leipzig in the quarterfinals.
Liverpool got some measure of revenge with a 3-2 win in the Spanish capital two weeks ago and is well on course for the last 16 with maximum points from its opening three games in Group B. “We were so happy when we qualified for the Champions League last year because we knew we would have nights like this,” Klopp added.
“So now a night like this is coming and we should celebrate it in a football way together with our supporters.”
Another win against Los Colchoneros would qualify Liverpool for the knockout stages with two games to spare. Guinea’s Naby Keita and James Milner are sidelined with hamstring injuries but Klopp confirmed midfielders Thiago and Fabinho are in contention to play after returning to training.