By Darren Lewis and Issy Ronald, CNN
The German phrase ‘Luftschlösser bauen’ literally translates as ‘building castles in the air,’ a whimsical image indicative of the idiom’s meaning — daydreaming about pipedreams.
This season, ‘Luftschlösser bauen’ is an idea that might resonate with many Liverpool fans.
Back in January, Liverpool was a seemingly insurmountable 14 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League; had dispatched Shrewsbury Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup; was preparing for its round of 16 clash against Inter Milan in the Champions League; and had just drawn 0-0 with Arsenal in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal.
Winning all four trophies appeared to be a pipedream barely worth daydreaming about.
Subsequently the Reds have closed the gap to City in the title race and navigated every cup knockout round to keep their hopes of an unprecedented quadruple mathematically still alive, although a recent draw against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League dealt their title hopes a severe blow.
For Liverpool to win the Premier League, it now needs City to slip up in its last two games. That would seem unlikely given City has won its previous two games 5-0 and 5-1.
The manager constructing the foundations of this remarkable season is, of course, Jürgen Klopp, who recently extended his contract with Liverpool.
Before his arrival at Liverpool, the German managed Borussia Dortmund for seven seasons, guiding the club to a Bundesliga title in 2011 as well as a league and cup double in 2012. Under Klopp, Dortmund also reached a Champions League final.
“Jürgen is a special person,” Dortmund’s captain Marco Reus tells CNN Senior Sport Analyst Darren Lewis. “I remember when I moved to Dortmund and had the first conversation with him. When he walks into the room, there’s just something in the air.”
“He’s charismatic, he’s got a lot of energy, and he’s just a good guy to just talk to privately about other things, not just football.”
Reus’ association with Klopp stretches back to 2012, when Klopp — then Dortmund coach — persuaded him to return to the club where he had been a youth player.
In his first season under Klopp following his move from Borussia Mönchengladbach, Reus contributed 19 goals and 16 assists in 49 appearances as Dortmund reached the Champions League final where it lost 2-1 to rivals Bayern Munich.
“He’s definitely one of the best coaches in the world because otherwise you don’t stay at the top for so long,” Reus says. “I hope for him that he manages to do it (quadruple) this year and I wouldn’t put it past him.”
‘Energy he brings every day’
When Klopp arrived at Dortmund in 2008, the club had just endured its worst season in 20 years, finishing 13th in the Bundesliga.
By recruiting smartly — players such as Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Błaszczykowski were signed relatively cheaply — and implementing his now familiar tactic of ‘gegenpress’ — whereby the team immediately try to win back possession after losing it — Klopp built a title-winning side in three years.
“Before he came, things weren’t looking so rosy here and he took the club to another level,” Reus recalls.
“Of course, that had a lot to do with him and the team at the time as well.”
“You can’t put that into words because it’s not just one word. It’s still, I would say, this energy, willingness to suffer every day and to get the maximum out of it.”
“And, of course, he has had a lot of experiences in the last few years when he was here and then also in the first years at Liverpool, which has helped him a lot.”
Similarly, at Liverpool, the success now enjoyed by the team did not immediately materialize.
It took Klopp’s charges four years to win the Champions League, and another year to win the Premier League title.
“He’s been doing a great job for years both here and in Liverpool,” says Reus. “How he’s built the team, how he’s built the club, both here and in Liverpool, is immense. That energy that he brings every day, I think, you can only take your hat off to him.”
On Saturday, Liverpool play Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley and then Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28 in Paris.
For the time being the pipedream — the idea of ‘building castles in the air’ — is still attainable.
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