Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp with the FA Cup
Photo: GLYN KIRK / AFP
The pursuit of immortality leaves its mark, even with Jürgen Klopp.
When the Liverpool coach stepped in front of the BBC camera after beating Chelsea 6-5 on penalties in the FA Cup final (0-0 after 120 minutes), he looked exhausted.
One might have guessed that he had just run a half marathon in the London spring sun.
Klopp spoke louder than usual, almost yelling to block out the din at the roaring Wembley Stadium, which had witnessed Liverpool's first win in the storied English Cup since 2006.
'Chelsea deserved it just as much.
Small differences made the difference,” admitted Klopp and reported on personal signs of wear and tear.
The penalty shootout?
My fingernails are gone.”
Liverpool can win four titles this season, the "Quadruple". It would be a unique achievement that would make Klopp and his team immortal for the Liverpool fans. With the success in the FA Cup, the trophy count has jumped to "two". , having already won the League Cup at the end of February, also against Chelsea, also on penalties.
Two more titles are theoretically still possible, namely the English championship and winning the Champions League.
In the Premier League, the 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur a week ago has clouded our chances.
Manchester City are three points clear with two games to go and the better goal difference.
In the premier class, Liverpool have their fate in their own hands, in the final in Paris in two weeks it is against Real Madrid.
The cup final against Chelsea was the 60th appearance for Klopp's side this season.
The trainer had previously spoken of an “insane schedule”.
In the 120 minutes against Thomas Tuchel's selection, it was possible to see how the hunt for four titles is affecting Liverpool FC.
At the breaking point
The team is playing at the breaking point.
Midfield sweeper Fabinho wasn't even there, having sustained a muscle injury in midweek league play at Aston Villa.
After a little over half an hour, top scorer Mohamed Salah had to be substituted.
Memories were awakened of the 2018 Champions League final against Real Madrid (1: 3 in the end), in which Salah was disabled early on by Sergio Ramos.
Unlike then, however, his substitution this time was a precautionary measure.
Defense chief Virgil Van Dijk stayed on the bench at the start of extra time because of a muscle injury.
Salah and Van Dijk - they are the symbol figures of Klopp's Liverpool, the two most important players for the German coach.
But unlike in the past, the team will be better able to deal with failures and the merciless schedule in spring 2022.
"I can bring Diogo Jota and Joël Matip - that's the best situation I've ever been in as a coach," says Klopp.
Kader still compensates for the hardships
Liverpool did better against Chelsea in a thrilling, high-quality final and should have won in regular time.
17 shots on goal faced seven attempts by the Londoners.
Luís Diaz and Andrew Robertson had the best chances.
They each hit the post.
Díaz, the best man in the game, is a prime example of Klopp now having a squad that puts in a lot of hardships.
The left wing arrived from FC Porto in January for €45m and is already being hailed as a bargain in England, he's blended in so well.
Liverpool is also better equipped in other parts of the team than in the past.
In central defence, Ibrahima Konaté, who was brought from Leipzig before the season, played in all important knockout games in the Champions League and played all the full-time games in the FA Cup, including the final.
He was replaced by Joël Matip on the bench until replacing Van Dijk in extra time.
An inconspicuous as a match winner
Even the exit of the exhausted left-back Andrew Robertson in the 111th minute was the beginning of a heroic story.
His replacement, the otherwise little-known Kostas Tsimikas, converted the decisive try in a penalty shoot-out and made his mark in Liverpool history.
Visibly overwhelmed, Tsimikas then said in broken English: »We have to celebrate hard.
But tomorrow is another day.
Its a lot to do."
Liverpool FC still have three games left in the season, two in the league and one in the Champions League.
The side are struggling towards the goal, but after defeating Chelsea in the Cup, they have regained the confidence that they can always find a way to succeed.
The "mentality monsters" were once again the talk after winning the second title of the season.
It doesn't have to be the last.