After securing a safe passage to Wembley, Jürgen Klopp admitted he had listened to Marco Silva’s pre-match remarks ahead of the League Cup semi-final clash between Liverpool and Fulham. They served as a reminder that his own side needed to prove a point.
Liverpool, of course, has been here before. In fact, the upcoming final against Chelsea will be an exact repeat of the 2022 final — with the same fixture also serving as the FA Cup final in that season.
But the neighbors a stone’s throw from Stamford Bridge rarely come so close to glory. Silva talked up just how much this would mean to Fulham, in remarks that clearly left an impression on Klopp.
The German called on his team to show that they could match Fulham’s desire. Even though this is ‘Liverpool 2.0’ now, Klopp still has a number of players who have won the Premier League and the Champions League in the ranks, including his captain and vice-captain; Trent Alexander-Arnold sat this one out as he completes his rehabilitation from injury, but Virgil van Dijk had to prove the hunger for silverware has not diminished.
“This was not the night to shine, this was the night to qualify for a final,” said Klopp, via the BBC. “You heard from Marco Silva how much reaching a final would mean for Fulham. We had to prove [ourselves] and we did. It is so perfect. Wembley is a special place and I am really happy for everyone involved they can have that experience.”
While the veterans in the side proved they were up for the fight, the motivation of the youngsters was never in doubt. It was another standout performance from Jarell Quansah, who is now the joint-leading assister in this season’s competition despite being a center-back who has not played every game. Meanwhile, Bobby Clark was able to have a telling impact from the bench.
Whether they will play any part in the final at Wembley remains to be seen, but both have played their part in getting Liverpool there, and will now experience their first final. The summer signings will also have the chance to secure their first trophy in a red shirt.
Liverpool.com says: Perhaps naming Quansah was a nod from Klopp to the need for maximum motivation. Or perhaps he is simply doing all he can to keep his squad fit and healthy. Either way, the blend of young and old (and indeed old and new) that has more or less defined the season proved to be the right formula here.
Liverpool used its know-how to see out the result, but never looked short of drive and desire either. Liverpool 2.0 seems to have the best of both worlds, and it could yet lead to really exciting places before the season is done. The next stop? Wembley.