The defining games of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool era

Jurgen Klopp will bid farewell to Anfield and Liverpool on Sunday after nine successful years at the club.

The German’s first game with the club was an away trip to Tottenham in 2015 and it quickly became apparent that Klopp had an almighty job on his hands. 

Almost nine years later, Klopp has picked up eight major trophies with Liverpool and has been the most transformative figure in the club’s history since the days of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.  

Andrew Smith looks back at some of the defining games of his time at the club, and what made them so…

Tottenham 4-1 Liverpool, Premier League, October 2017: (Mignolet; Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Moreno; Milner, Henderson, Can; Salah, Firmino, Coutinho) 

Tottenham capitalised on a wretched defensive performance from Liverpool, and this result was arguably the first indication to Klopp that changes at the back were a must. 

Dejan Lovren was subbed off after just 30 minutes as Mauricio Pochettino’s side raced into a 2-0 lead. In truth, Liverpool could and should have conceded more goals and after the game Klopp blamed all four goals on individual mistakes.  

This result more than any during the early days under Klopp is what forced Liverpool’s hand into the defensive market, and the introduction of Virgil Van Dijk two months later proved to be the key to fixing those problems. 

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool, Champions League final, May 2018: (Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane) 

Liverpool had come a long way from that battering at Wembley against Spurs. They were firmly in position for a place in the top four and had steam-rolled their way to a Champions League final, fending off the likes of Manchester City along the way. 

Van Dijk’s presence and the potency of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in attack gave Liverpool the platform to once again compete on the biggest stage. 

However, the game was dominated by two blunders from goalkeeper Loris Karius who inexplicably gifted Real Madrid two goals. Just like the Spurs match, the picture for Klopp became clear. Liverpool needed a new goalkeeper if they wanted to win the big prizes. 

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate), Champions League semi-final, May 2019: (Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Milner, Fabinho, Henderson; Mane, Origi, Shaqiri) 

One of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history which truly epitomised how much Liverpool had developed under Klopp. 

The connection between the fanbase was stronger than ever, Anfield was once again a mighty fortress and even Barcelona, a team consisting of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and ex-Red Phillipe Coutinho, failed to score a single goal against an assured Liverpool backline. 

Both Alisson and Van Dijk were pivotal figures for Liverpool in their quest for Champions League glory in 2019. Alisson’s remarkable save against Napoli in the group stage ultimately kept Liverpool in the competition and Van Dijk’s imperious performances against Barcelona at Anfield and in the win over Spurs in the final showed what Liverpool were missing to finally win some silverware. 

A game that will live long in the memories of supporters, and which ultimately led to the first of many trophies that Klopp would win with Liverpool.

Leicester City 0-4 Liverpool, Premier League, December 2019: (Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane) 

Liverpool strolled to the Premier League title during the 2019-20 season and their performance at the King Power Stadium highlighted their dominance throughout the campaign. 

Leicester came into the game in second place, but it quickly became apparent that there was a sizable gap between both sides.  

Liverpool ran out comfortable 4-0 winners and this performance was almost the end result of Klopp’s work at the club. He had created an unstoppable force that swept the league aside and won the title by 18 points. Given some of their performances that season and the margin of victory in the title race, this side was arguably the strongest of the Klopp era. 

Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid, Champions League Final, May 2022: (Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz) 

Despite an underwhelming title defence in which Liverpool could only muster up a top-four finish, Klopp had emerged from a bizarre injury crisis the following season and put the club in contention for an unprecedented quadruple in the 2021/22 campaign. 

Liverpool had already secured a domestic cup double but had narrowly missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City by a point for the second time in four seasons. 

Winning against Real Madrid in Paris was imperative, as Klopp side’s ran the risk of gaining the tag of the ‘nearly men.’ Liverpool encountered a brick wall in the form of Thibaut Courtois, who produced a man of the match performance to make it number 14 for Madrid. 

Liverpool had lost just four times from 63 games that season and were agonisingly just two wins away from securing a quadruple. That deflating experience took its toll on the players as the following season was bitterly disappointing, as Liverpool missed out on top four and failed to pick up any silverware.

Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea, Carabao Cup final, February 2024 (Kelleher, Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Mac Allister, Endo, Gravenberch, Elliott, Gakpo, Diaz) 

Klopp’s final trophy of his nine years in charge of the club was won in dramatic circumstances, with one of the pivotal figures of his era in Virgil Van Dijk heading in a corner in extra-time to ensure the Reds boss did not leave the club empty handed.

The day belonged to the youth, however, with an injury crisis meaning Klopp had to turn to several teenagers off the bench including James McConnell, Bobby Clark and Jayden Danns to help them get over the line. An encouraging sign for the future of the club without Klopp.

Everton 2-0 Liverpool, Premier League, April 2024 (Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Jones; Salah, Diaz, Nunez) 

This season has arguably been Klopp’s toughest. Tasked with creating Liverpool 2.0, the German had completely overhauled a deteriorating midfield in the summer but managed to get Liverpool ticking again. 

Despite massively overachieving this season, Liverpool’s bid to send Klopp off with a shower of silverware drastically collapsed between March and April. The 4-3 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals and the 3-0 humbling at home to Atalanta kickstarted the unravelling of Liverpool’s season. 

Their already faint hopes of winning the title crumbled when relegation-threatened Everton bossed them 2-0 at Goodison Park. The result showed that Liverpool, despite having a progressive season, was still nowhere near the Liverpool of old. 

Klopp said he was leaving the club because he has “no energy” left and another pre-season would have been too much. He has undoubtedly left behind a promising squad for Arne Slot to inherit, but there is clearly work to be done if Liverpool are to win major silverware in the next few seasons. 

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