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Klopp: I look forward to clash vs. Messi, thankful for time to prepare

Liverpool face a testing Champions League semifinal against Lionel Messi and Barcelona, but have made a statement by reaching the last four for the second straight year and are equipped to deal with the very best, manager Jurgen Klopp said.

Liverpool beat Porto 4-1 at the Dragao Stadium on Wednesday to advance 6-1 on aggregate with their attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all on target once again.

With their defence marshalled by the hugely impressive Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool, who reached the final last year, are now undefeated in their last 17 games in all competitions as they seek a Premier League-Champions League double.

"We have been together for a while, we needed to be more mature," Klopp said.

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"The boys made their own experience in this competition, especially last year. It's the second time in a row we are in the semis.

"That says something, it's a big statement for the club. OK we play Barca, maybe it's not too easy," the German added with a smile.

On facing Messi, who scored twice in Barca's 3-0 win over Manchester United on Tuesday, Klopp said: "Thank God I don't have to think about that tonight and thank God I have a few more nights to think about it!

"I think everybody tried it so far and nobody can really do it. We still will try it. But we are looking forward to it, but we have so many jobs to do before we meet Barcelona. So let's first play these games and then let's prepare for Barcelona. Then we will see. I have never played Barcelona in a proper game, so [it's] my first time there and I'm looking forward to it."

Liverpool certainly made it look easy in the second half against Porto after a tough opening 25 minutes.

Yet after Sadio Mane latched onto a Mohamed Salah ball to open the scoring following a VAR review, Liverpool were in charge and never lost their composure.

"I was thinking it's offside, to be honest. And I told the boys 'keep going, keep going' and they say 'no, you have to wait because it's a goal'," the Senegalese said.

"I was surprised. It was an important goal but the main point today was to qualify for the semis."

Klopp said they were expecting the early Porto onslaught.

"It was very, very difficult. We knew that before, that it will be a proper whirlwind here and that's what they did," Klopp said.

"We know these games in the Champions league, they [Porto] are a completely different animal in home games. And it was clear that we had to be ready for that," he added.

"In a deep defending situation we were ready for that, we couldn't put proper pressure on them in their build-up. A little bit disorganisation, but it's all good.

"A difficult game but we won it and so I am completely fine. Going to the semifinals, I think we are the only ones who were last in the semi-finals and again in the semi-final so that's really special for us."

UEFA have confirmed the dates for the Champions League semifinals, with Tottenham vs. Ajax first leg on April 30 and Barcelona vs. Liverpool on May 1. Liverpool vs. Barcelona in the second leg is set for May 7, while Ajax host Tottenham on May 8.

Information from Reuters was used in this report. 

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