The German phrase “Luftschlösser bauen” literally translates to “building castles in the air,” a whimsical image indicating the meaning of the idiom: to dream chimerical dreams.
This season, ‘Luftschlösser bauen’ is an idea that could resonate with many Liverpool fans.
In January, Liverpool were a seemingly insurmountable 14 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League; had sent Shrewsbury Town to the fourth round of the FA Cup; was preparing for their round of 16 against Inter Milan in the Champions League; and had just drawn 0-0 with Arsenal in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
Winning all four trophies seemed like a pipe dream that was hardly worth dreaming about.
Subsequently, the Reds closed the gap to City in the title race and navigated each knockout round of the cup to keep their hopes of a mathematically unprecedented treble still alive, although a recent game draw against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League dealt a severe blow to their title hopes.
For Liverpool to win the Premier League, City now need to slip in their last two games. That seems unlikely given City have won their previous two games 5-0 and 5-1.
The manager who laid the foundations for this remarkable season is of course Jürgen Klopp, who recently extended his contract with Liverpool.
Prior to joining 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 final of the Champions League.
“Jürgen is a special person,” Dortmund captain Marco Reus told CNN senior sports 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 talk to privately about other things, not just football.”
Reus’ association with Klopp dates back to 2012, when Klopp – then Dortmund manager – persuaded him to return to the club where he had been a young player.
In his first season under Klopp after leaving Borussia Mönchengladbach, Reus registered 19 goals and 16 assists in 49 appearances as Dortmund reached the Champions League final where they lost 2-1 to rivals Bayern Munich .
“He’s definitely one of the best coaches in the world because otherwise you don’t stay on top that long,” says Reus. “I hope for him that he manages to do it (quadruple) this year and I won’t let it pass.”
When Klopp arrived at Dortmund in 2008, the club had just suffered their 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 tries to regain possession after having lost – Klopp built a title-winning side in three years.
“Before he arrived things weren’t so rosy here and he took the club to another level,” Reus recalled.
“Of course it 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 is all the same, I would say, this energy, this will to suffer every day and to make the most of it.
“And, of course, he had a lot of experience in the last few years when he was here, and then also in the early years at Liverpool, which helped him a lot.”
Similarly, at Liverpool, the success the team now enjoys did not materialize right away.
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 here and at Liverpool,” says Reus. “How he built the team, how he built the club, here and at Liverpool, it’s huge. That energy he brings every day, I think, you can only take your hat off to him.
On Saturday, Liverpool face Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley and then Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28 in Paris.
For now, the pipe dream – the idea of “building castles in the air” – is still achievable.
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