Yes, Dortmund was a better place to be than North Korea

The Borussia Dortmund-Liverpool Europa League showdown was not only a battle of former European champions and two clubs who share a special bond -- they even sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" at the Westfalenstadion -- it marked the return of Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp to Dortmund, where he led BVB to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012.

For once, the game lived up the hype that included a Klopp-Cam so German fans could follow Klopp's every gesticulation.

Liverpool took the lead on a goal by Belgian Divock Origi late in the first half, Mats Hummels responded for Dortmund, but the Ruhr club needed three saves in short succession by keeper Roman Weidenfeller, arms all over the place in his best Klopp imitation, to keep the score knocked at 1-1 at the end of the first leg. (American Christian Pulisic even got into the game.)

Klopp had downplayed his return home -- and Liverpool's chances.

“I don’t think about my situation for one second,” he said. “I prepare my team, that’s why I am here at a place where I had a wonderful time. It is better to be here than, I don’t know, North Korea or something. It feels good.”

Klopp, hired to replace Brendan Rodgers in October, hasn't exactly been a savior at Anfield -- Liverpool is ninth in the EPL -- but a Europa League title would put the Reds in the Champions League next season. He wasn't let alone jump ahead of himself before the game.

“I don’t think we are favorites to win the title at this moment," he said, "but if we beat Dortmund then we become something like favorites but then it still depends on the other teams left in the competition. I don’t think in these categories."

Still, the match was termed one of the most emotional ever played at the Westfalenstadion and left Klopp believing Liverpool can achieve something in the second leg.

"Anfield Road will burn," he said. "It's going to be special. We have something to play for. Not many expected that."
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