Liverpool will shake off their Champions League loss to Barcelona as they prepare for a final push in the Premier League title race, says Phil Babb.
The Reds were outclassed 3-0 by Barcelona in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday night, their European ambitions all but dashed by a ruthless individual performance from Lionel Messi.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have no time to dwell on the defeat as they now travel to Newcastle on Saturday night, knowing a loss could end their domestic title hopes in the penultimate week of the season.
The task is all the more difficult after Klopp confirmed during his press conference on Friday that Naby Keita picked up an injury at the Nou Camp that could rule him out for up to two months.
Though Babb says that news will come as a shock to Liverpool, he is expecting the Merseysiders to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss and put their focus on leaving St James’ Park with three points.
“They didn’t play particularly badly, they were just undone by one of the best players we’ve ever seen,” Babb told Sky Sports News. “So they’ll take some heart from that.
“It would have been nice for them to get the away goal, but you have to take a positive out of there; they didn’t disgrace themselves – although the scoreline may suggest that, I don’t think they did.
“It’s going to be tough, there will be disappointment from that game. The shock about Naby Keita as well, that might affect some of them because he was in good form, scoring goals, showing the signs of why Liverpool bought him.
“But the flip side of that – [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain is back. That’s a boost for Liverpool. So, hangover? I doubt it. Not at this stage of the season; there’s too much at stake.”
Liverpool could end the season with as many as 97 points and still not win the league, an outcome Babb says would be tough on his former club. However, the 48-year-old says Klopp is the right man to help the players pick themselves up, either now or in their next campaign.
“He’s a spectacular man-motivator,” Babb added. “All the players that he’s worked with, whether in England or Germany, always buy into his philosophy
“He drives people with his passion, and if Liverpool do fall short I think they will use that as motivation to go one better next year.
“There’s so many positives to take out of it, but if you fall short at the last hurdle after such a long wait for the Premier League title it will be a bitter pill to swallow.
“But you have to do it and you have to come back stronger, and Liverpool will.”