Quique Sanchez Flores says he will have to prepare his Watford players for the raucous and emotional atmosphere they are likely to face at Anfield tomorrow.
Sanchez Flores knows first-hand about the noise Liverpool fans can create. It was in 2010 that he took his Atletico Madrid side to Merseyside for a Europa League semi-final second leg, a tie settled by an extra-time goal from Diego Forlan. His ears are still ringing at the deafening noise created on a classic European night at Anfield.
“It was an incredible experience,” he said. “We trained there the day before the game and to play the game was amazing. We had a good team but we expected a tough match against Rafa Bentitez’s Liverpool, who were a great team. I still have the sound of the stadium in my mind. I know how they scream in the stand and how loud the atmosphere is. I have to prepare the players for that because some of our players haven’t played there before. They have to be ready for the atmosphere they will find.”
Watford’s visit will be the first Premier League match played at Anfield since the verdict of the Hillsborough inquests ruled that the 96 Liverpool fans who died in a crush during 1989 FA Cup semi-final were unlawfully killed.
“Any life you lose, in England, Africa or anywhere in the world, is very sad,” Sanchez Flores said. “The conditions that happened means it is incredibly sad. I give my condolences and it was important there was a solution. It didn’t happen soon enough.”
Fired by the long-awaited verdict, Liverpool reached the final of the Europa League with a rousing 3-0 win over Villarreal on Thursday night.
“It’s possible he will make changes,” Sanchez Flores said. “He has changed the team a lot in the last few matches. Analysing the game with Swansea is completely different from analysing the game against Villarreal. But his idea and style will be the same. They haven’t changed since the first half of the season. They love to play quick down the sides and get the ball into the box. They are a very complete team who are feeling happy on the pitch.”
Liverpool were crestfallen and brow beaten after Watford steamrollered them at Vicarage Road in December. Yet that 3-0 win turned out to be the Hornets’ high point and the low point from where Klopp rebuilt. Watford have won four league games since. Liverpool have lost only five.
“That match [at Vicarage Road] wasn’t Liverpool,” Sanchez Flores said. “It wasn’t a Jurgen Klopp team. We took the opportunity to win the match very well and it was an amazing moment for Watford. Now the situation is different. The game will be different. Our objective is done while Liverpool are playing very well and are in the final of the Europa League. Their morale is really high and I the atmosphere will be very good.”