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Klopp and Liverpool breathe it in at Old Trafford

Jürgen Klopp may be hoping Liverpool's high-intensity style suffocates Manchester United once more, but only after his own team "breathe the stadium air" themselves.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was his usual ebullient self at Wednesday's press conference
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was his usual ebullient self at Wednesday's press conference ©Getty Images

For a few brief moments Jürgen Klopp sounded like a wide-eyed tourist as he sat in the Europa Suite at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.

The Liverpool manager was explaining his decision to bring his squad to Manchester to train on the eve of tomorrow's UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg – something opponents Manchester United had not done before the reverse fixture at Anfield.

"We wanted the whole package," said Klopp. "I always enjoyed it when I played with my former clubs in European tournaments to breathe the stadium air where you play the next night. I like to imagine what will happen."

He may never have led a team out at English club football's biggest arena before but the German has a good idea already of what to expect from United. Furthermore, in his mind's eye he will be imagining another high-intensity display like the one that suffocated Louis van Gaal's side in Liverpool's 2-0 first-leg triumph.

Highlights of the first leg at Anfield

"Tomorrow is the third time we've played Man United since I've been here [the first ended in a 1-0 defeat] and we were always in the game," he said. "The world doesn't change overnight. It is absolutely clear there is a chance for Man United – 100%, that is football – but we know that we know how to play them."

Liverpool certainly showed that a week ago. The question now is how United can respond. There were sceptical eyebrows raised in the press conference room when Van Gaal said United had showed their ability to bounce back by overturning a deficit against Midtjylland in the last round; with all respect to the Danish side, Liverpool will ask a different set of questions.

Klopp's team are now unbeaten in seven matches – if we overlook the penalty shoot-out in the League Cup final against Manchester City. United, meanwhile, have scored only two goals in their last 360 minutes of football.

For that reason, the majority of United fans would probably be pessimistic about their team's prospects of adding another famous fightback to their proud catalogue in European competition.

Ander Herrera speaks to the media
Ander Herrera speaks to the media©AFP/Getty Images

Of course, Van Gaal saw it differently and so too Ander Herrera, the Spanish midfielder who, seated beside United's manager, spoke with impressive articulacy about the challenge ahead. When it was put to him that United had been outfought at a bouncing Anfield last week, he said it was wrong to question their desire: "We always want to win because we are Manchester United and as Manchester United players we should have played much better.

"We cannot go crazy, we have to score first and not concede," he added. "If they want to go to next round they are going to have to fight a lot."

He offered a clear explanation too of where the match was lost last week. "The two games we won away [at Anfield in the Premier League this season and last] we won most of the second balls, the last time we didn't. We learned a lot from that game. Tomorrow is going to be completely different. Old Trafford is different and the pitch is bigger and even the grass is better."

Five great Liverpool goals

This last reference to the pitch could well earn a witty response from Liverpool's travelling supporters tomorrow, though it was said in the context of comparing the bigger spaces at Old Trafford with Anfield's tighter environment. "Well done, son" was Van Gaal's lighthearted quip as the pair stood up to leave afterwards and Klopp was in good form too.

When asked about the prospect of facing an atmosphere tomorrow as intense as in the first leg, Liverpool's manager was unruffled. For a start, he said, he would not be able to understand what the home fans were singing. On a second, more significant note, his own side, he said, "will decide how good the atmosphere is tomorrow with our performance". They did that at Anfield and he believes they can do it again.

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