Liverpool have the air of a side expecting to beat Sevilla in Wednesday’s Europa League final. DW's Michael Da Silva analyses how Jürgen Klopp created a team in his own image so swiftly at Anfield.
Jürgen Klopp‘s nascent Anfield revolution has gathered momentum in recent weeks and Liverpool, perhaps to their own surprise, find themselves in a major European final for the first time in nine years.
While the Europa League may be an unappetizing option for clubs with loftier short-term ambitions, Liverpool have embraced the tournament, perhaps because his far-from-perfect squad are more suited to Europe’s second-tier club competition than the rigors of Premier League.
There is also the added incentive that beating Sevilla in Basel on Wednesday would earn the Reds a lucrative place in the Champions League for next season.
"When I came here (in October), the tournament didn't sound so attractive," Klopp said after his side's rousing 3-0 semi-final victory over Villarreal at Anfield earlier this month.
"We've liked going to different countries and adapting to different circumstances and temperatures. I like this in football."
However, it hasn’t been plain sailing for the Reds. Klopp had to cope with an injury crisis that around the turn of the year saw 11 players sidelined, seven with hamstring strains.
Skipper Jordan Henderson is one of many Liverpool players who have been sidelined by injury this year
As a result, the German was criticized for trying to implement his high-intensity style of play too quickly.
Fitness coach Raymond Verheijen, who has worked at Bayern Munich and Manchester City, noted that Klopp tried to impose his physically draining style on a team with one of the busiest fixture schedules in Europe.
"When you implement a more demanding pressing game, the bodies of the players need time to adapt," Verheijen said. "Klopp has hopefully learned a valuable lesson."
Despite these teething problems, Klopp’s pressing game has become increasingly effective as Liverpool have not only thrived in Europe but also reached the English League Cup final, where they lost to Manchester City.
The likes of Roberto Firmino, Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge are flourishing under a manager who once led Dortmund to back-to-back league titles, a German Cup and a Champions League final.
"This season, and especially in 2016, the team has shown many times what they are capable of and what they could be capable of in the future," Klopp said.
The German coach can take a good deal of credit for the turnaround since the exit of predecessor Brendan Rodgers.
The German's profile was high in England when he arrived on Merseyside, with the general football public respectful of his achievements at Dortmund.
Now they are witnessing the possible resurgence of a genuine European force. A few key signings in the summer would help, with Bayern Munich's Mario Götze reportedly in Liverpool’s sights.
One reason for Klopp's impact has been his ability to ingratiate himself at his new home and quickly form a deep-rooted loyalty to his new club. Liverpool and their passionate fan base are in many ways England's answer to Dortmund.
While the yellow and black wall at Dortmund's Westfalonstadion is hard to replicate, Klopp knew before joining Liverpool that the Anfield supporters can also be the proverbial 12th man.
He regularly urges supporters to make noise during games and tries to let his own enthusiasm spill over into the crowd.
Klopp made the risky move early on of criticizing Liverpool fans for leaving early to beat the traffic. "I felt like I was there on my own at the end of the game," he jabbed.
But he got away with it and Liverpool fans are starting to respond, with the Europa League victories, notably the stunning 4-3 win over Dortmund in the last eight, turning Anfield into an intimidating cauldron.
"I was asked about nine years being a long time for Liverpool to be in a European final, but Europe is big and there are many teams competing to be in European finals. It's a great opportunity. And we will take this opportunity,' Klopp pledged.
You wouldn't bet against him as he bids to become the sixth coach to lead Liverpool to a European title.
They may only be slight favorites, but the Liverpool team that steps onto the pitch on Wednesday night are now in full Klopp mode, with the German's first season in England on the verge of becoming a memorable one.