Dortmund homecoming for Liverpool’s Klopp
Klopp spent seven years at Dortmund, guiding them to a pair of Bundesliga titles as well as the 2013 Champions League final, but is now plotting the downfall of his former employers as Liverpool bid to add to their haul of 11 European trophies.
The Reds have been plagued by inconsistency this term but have fared well against tougher opposition, and midfielder James Milner is confident Liverpool can stand up to Dortmund.
“We don’t fear anyone and we’ve proved this year we can beat anyone,” Milner told Liverpool’s official website.
“We have to make sure we’re on our game and if we do that we’ve got every chance of going through to the next round.”
Having seen off eternal rivals Manchester United in the last 16, Liverpool will hope to use the Anfield crowd to their advantage in the return leg but Milner knows that all depends on securing a favourable result at Signal Iduna Park.
“It all depends on the first result, obviously. You can play yourself out of the tie in the first leg by not getting a good result,” said the England international.
“With us being away first, the away goal would be nice, and then we come back and that gives you a bit of a cushion at home where you want to keep a clean sheet.”
– Friendship on hold –
Dortmund eased past Premier League title hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 on aggregate in the last round, and the club’s chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke says his friendship with Klopp will be set aside until the final whistle.
“We will be clear opponents on Thursday, there is no need for mucking around in a friendship,” Watzke told German broadcaster ZDF.
“My concern is that he will bring the (home) fans to his side and create a atmosphere like you get in a friendly.”
Unlike Liverpool, whose Champions League hopes rest solely on Europa League glory, Dortmund sealed their return to Europe’s premier club competition next season with Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.
Elsewhere, holders Sevilla continue their quest for a fifth title in the past decade as they head to Athletic Bilbao for the first leg of their all-Spanish tie.
Sevilla striker Fernando Llorente spent nine years in Athletic’s first team and the Spain international admitted it would be a night of mixed emotions at San Mames.
“It was a surprise having to face the club where I started playing but it will be nice. It will be strange as well, though, because I spent 17 wonderful years of my life in Bilbao,” Llorente told UEFA.com.
“Sevilla have a real desire to win this competition. It would be unique and quite incredible, because I don’t think any team have done it three years in a row.”
Villarreal tightened their grip on fourth place in La Liga over the weekend and welcome Sparta Prague, conquerors of Lazio in the previous round, to Spain for Thursday’s first leg.
Meanwhile, Braga will look to shake off last Friday’s 5-1 thrashing at Benfica as the 2011 finalists host Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk, the 2009 champions, in Portugal.
Fixtures (kick-off times 1905GMT)
At Braga, Portugal
Braga (POR) v Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
At Vila-real, Spain
Villarreal (ESP) v Sparta Prague (CZE)
At Bilbao, Spain
Athletic Bilbao (ESP) v Sevilla (ESP)
At Dortmund, Germany
Borussia Dortmund (GER) v Liverpool (ENG)
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