A goalless draw at home to Porto confirmed Liverpool’s place in the last eight – their first for nine years – which was already virtually guaranteed after their 5-0 first-leg victory last month.
Heading into this round of matches Klopp’s side were the competition’s top scorers with 28 goals and he believes that has already proved they can compete on their return after a three-year absence.
“It should not be a big surprise,” he said.
“I never had a time schedule in my mind where I thought ‘we have to be there and then have to be there’.
“Actually, I don’t want to make it smaller than it is, but on the other side I don’t want to make it bigger than it is.
“This year we belong there, to be honest. Next round will be very difficult, that is clear. There will be seven other very good teams, maybe another four from England which does not make it easier.
“I think we will have a chance, for sure, to get through to the semis and that of course is the target.
“Take it step by step. It is cool absolutely. This is our first year when we had the opportunity to do it so I think we are in time.
“We are a little bit satisfied, to be honest. There is a good development in Liverpool, a nice moment.
“It is good, it is done and now let’s carry on.”
Klopp made five changes for the match but played two of his front three in Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane for 62 and 74 minutes respectively while 32-goal forward Mohamed Salah was sent on for the last 20 minutes.
Critics will question the Red boss’ wisdom in doing so with Manchester United at Old Trafford up next at the weekend, but the German insists he was doing his Egypt international a favour.
“Everyone thinks about injuries but that can happen all the time,” he added.
“Now we thought we give him, if possible, the last 20. If it is 15 he trains again on Wednesday.
“I told him if he really runs a lot he does not have to train so I thought he was quite lively.”
Of the other changes Klopp said: “(Andrew) Robertson had an issue but not big. It was not about rotation, only about the next line-up.
“It was not too intense for Sadio even though he was lively. It was very important for Adam (Lallana), getting used to the rhythm, and for Ingsy (Danny Ings) a few minutes.
“Joe Gomez playing after a few weeks was important. Now we can prepare the Manchester game and I am looking forward to it.”
The Champions League Round of 16 tie between Tottenham and Juventus is delicately poised, with Spurs enjoying a slight advantage thanks to their thrilling comeback in Turin last month to grab a 2-2 draw.
That result means that a home win on Wednesday will take Spurs to the quarter-finals at Juventus’ expense, and even a 0-0 or 1-1 draw would do for the home team.
The impetus is on Juve, a situation that should suit Tottenham just fine. They will feel no fear after their performance in the first leg.
Here are three talking points ahead of Wednesday night’s clash.
TIME FOR SPURS TO DELIVER
Tottenham have been a glorious team over the last three seasons – a thrilling, young, attacking side twice mounting late charges for the Premier League title and delighting neutrals with their playing style and player development. They’ve been on the verge of breaking through, on the cusp on delivering on potential, on the brink of true greatness.
On Wednesday night, it’s time to say, no more. No more talk about what this team could achieve, how breathtaking their potential is, how close they are to being something special. It’s time for them to say, we’re here.
In front of a home crowd, at Wembley, against one of Europe’s grand old clubs, in the world’s most prestigious club competition, Spurs have to deliver. Last month’s superb comeback from 2-0 down in Turin has to be a prelude, not a culmination.
That draw has made them slight favourites to progress. But nobody will be too surprised if Juve, with their tradition and the experience in their squad, overcome that disadvantage and plot a path to the quarter-finals.
The Mauricio Pochettino project at Tottenham has been waiting for a moment like this. On Wednesday, Spurs need to seize it.
DYBALA’S CHANCE TO SHINE
Paulo Dybala‘s big-game performances have been a mixed bag. He starred in last year’s Champions League quarter-finals against Barcelona, but faded in the final against a rampant Real Madrid. He’s delivered in some crunch Serie A clashes but been ineffective in others, like this season’s 1-0 win over Napoli.
Dybala comes into this game in high spirits, having delivered a crucial, potentially title-deciding win on Saturday when his injury-time goal beat Lazio 1-0. Confidence will be running high.
But he’s had only a fleeting taste of English football before, coming on briefly as a substitute in Juventus’ 2-1 away win over Manchester City in 2015 in the group stages before starting the return leg.
This Spurs side has the ingredients to trouble Dybala, with aggressive, powerful defenders and midfielders and pace to deal with his darting runs. The Argentine needs to stand up to that and be counted.
He was out injured for the first leg of this tie, an absence that made Spurs’ life slightly easier as replacement Douglas Costa struggled to have the same impact. On Wednesday, he’ll have the chance to show Spurs how different things could have been in Turin had he played.
MIDFIELD BATTLE: SPURS REPEAT, OR JUVENTUS REVENGE?
Pochettino has long been claiming that Mousa Dembele is one of the best players in the world, but the first-leg clash against Juventus made other people stand up and take notice. The Belgian was absolutely sublime, with his skill on the ball, powerful running, and sharp passing.
Christian Eriksen wasn’t too far behind, another player who shined in Spurs’ comeback in Turin. Together, he and Dembele dominated midfield, leaving Juventus overwhelmed.
On Wednesday, the Italian champions have a chance to atone for that display. Blaise Matuidi will likely return to the starting XI, making it more difficult for Spurs’ creative players to run riot, while Claudio Marchisio, who has been wrapped in cotton wool, should also return, further strengthening the Juventus midfield.
But this match could come down to how well Miralem Pjanic plays. He had an iffy game in Turin, giving away possession too easily. Dembele and Eric Dier will do their best to restrict the Bosnian midfielder. Dybala will draw some of the attention, which should give Pjanic a better chance to have an impact.
Dembele vs Matuidi will be fascinating to watch. Dembele v Pjanic will decide the match.
They stayed there throughout the night, exercising rare restraint and game management skills to see out a 0-0 draw at Anfield that booked their spot in the quarter-finals.
Here’s a look at how the players performed.
Loris Karius 6 – Had little to do of note, only required to make a routine save. On a night where he had little to gain, Karius made sure he lost nothing.
Joe Gomez 6 – For a player deployed out of position, Gomez showed decent skill and nous. He isn’t quite at the level of Trent Alexander-Arnold, but Gomez is a capable backup.
Joel Matip 7 – A solid display from a player who had gone off the boil this season. More displays like this will see him challenge for a starting berth again.
Dejan Lovren 7 – Alongside Matip, Lovren extinguished what little threat from Porto there was, showing his newfound calmness at the back yet again.
Alberto Moreno 6 – Not asked to do much defensively. The Spaniard could have done more in attack, often failing to deliver a telling ball in the final third.
Emre Can 7 – Can embodied Liverpool’s control of this game, helping Liverpool keep possession and popping up in attack and defence whenever necessary, without being spectacular.
Jordan Henderson 7 – One of Henderson’s better displays this season. Given time and space to operate, Henderson was composed on the ball and showed off his passing range.
James Milner 6 – The veteran midfielder should have gotten on the score sheet, slipping when presented with a glorious chance. Was his usual industrious self otherwise.
Sadio Mane 8 – The hat-trick hero from the first leg came closest to scoring, with an acrobatic effort that just missed followed by a shot against the post. Unlucky not to find the back of the net.
Roberto Firmino 5 – This looked like a Roberto Firmino conserving himself, with Manchester United to come at the weekend. Certainly not one of his more effective displays.
Adam Lallana 6 – Slightly less energetic than his usual displays, probably by design as Liverpool knew they didn’t have to strain themselves. Set Milner up for one of Liverpool’s best chances.
Danny Ings 6 – A good run-out for the Englishman, after a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Nearly scored, as well, being denied by a brilliant Iker Casillas save.
Mohamed Salah 6 – It was strange to see the Egyptian even come on, with the Reds in no need of a goal. He definitely added impetus to their attack, but on current form, any game in which he doesn’t score is a disappointment.
Ragnar Klavan 7 – Pulled off an absolutely stunning block to preserve Liverpool’s draw late in the game. He’s been criticised this season, deservedly, but that moment should give him a huge confidence boost.