Reaching the Uefa Champions League highlights the progress Jurgen Klopp and his staff are making at Liverpool, according to former midfielder Dietmar Hamann.
The Premier League side stand on the verge of an eighth European Cup final and first in 11 years, but must first navigate Wednesday's semi-final second leg against Roma in Rome.
Liverpool look set to progress, though, having triumphed 5-2 in the first leg at Anfield last week. They had stormed to a 5-0 lead before Roma scored twice late on to breathe life into the tie.
Should Liverpool advance as expected, they will meet in the final either reigning champions Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. Madrid are 2-1 up after their first leg in Germany, with the return leg to be played on Tuesday night.
Hamann was part of the last Liverpool team to lift the trophy, appearing in the famous final against AC Milan in 2005 that sealed for the club a fifth European Cup.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s DHL Swing Against Cancer Golf Series event at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Hamann said of the current crop: “If they were to go to the final it would be an amazing achievement. Because there were five, six, seven teams more fancied going into the competition. And yet again we could see Liverpool in the final.
“It would be a great achievement. And then the way they’ve done it: they beat Porto 5-0 on aggregate, beat [Manchester] City 5-1, they took apart a team that plays in Serie A 5-2 in the first leg with two late goals for Roma the only blip.
“There was always talk about if was there enough progress being made with this Liverpool side. You get the answer now.”
Asked if the semi-final tie is a foregone conclusion given Liverpool’s advantage, Hamann added: “Two late goals give Roma a chance, because they did it against Barcelona [in the last round]. I’d be more confident if it was 5-0 or 5-1. Instead it gives them a chance.
“But at the same time I fully expect Liverpool to finish the job in Rome, maybe score one or two goals. And that should be enough to progress to the final.”
Hamann described the £75 million (Dh378.8m) January signing of defender Virgil van Dijk as “the missing piece of the jigsaw” in Klopp’s Liverpool side. However, he feels the club should look at options this summer at both the goalkeeper and full-back positions. In regards to the latter, the German praised the contribution this season of Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Do that, and continue their fine form, and Hamann believes Liverpool can use the momentum of their Champions League run to push runaway champions City harder in the Premier League next season.
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With two matches remaining this season, Liverpool sit third in the table, 21 points behind City having played a game more. They last won the domestic league title in 1990.
“Things are coming together,” said Hamann, who represented Liverpool between 1999 and 2006. “They look a very strong side. Obviously it’s always easier to win a cup competition because there are so many games [in the league].
“To beat a City or [Manchester] United over 38 games is no mean feat. It’s a big ask. But the team’s going in a right direction, and with two, three, four additions in the summer they’d be a lot closer to City again.”
Hamann will play at JGE on Thursday and then participate in a Q&A question session during the gala dinner and auction. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.swingagainstcancer.com