They have waited six years for a night like this. The time has passed slowly, with frustration gnawing away while others have taken the focus.
History says that Anfield should come alive in spring with the influx of foreign opposition, but since April 2010 – when Benfica and Atletico Madrid arrived to contest the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Europa League – there has been nothing to spark excitement.
A Europa League last 16 tie against Portuguese side Braga in March 2011, when Liverpool were expected to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit, fizzled out in disappointment, the road to the final in Dublin ending in a woeful 0-0 draw.
Liverpool face a crunch clash with Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final
The two teams go into the second game at Anfield level after the first leg in Dortmund ended 1-1
Two years later in the last 32 of the same competition, Liverpool – inspired by Luis Suarez – failed to pull off a dramatic recovery against Zenit St Petersburg, a 3-1 win not enough to stop them exiting on away goals. That, in reality, has been as good as it has got.
Real Madrid’s visit during the Champions League group stages in October 2014 should have been a grand occasion but Liverpool’s appalling form at the time saw it become one of the most one-sided European games Anfield has ever staged. There was no atmosphere, no belief.
That won’t be the case on Thursday when Borussia Dortmund visit.
Fernando Torres helped Liverpool to a famous 4-1 win over Benfica in the Europa League at Anfield in 2010
Liverpool’s players feel the pain of their home Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid in 2010
Karim Benzema and Real Madrid visited Anfield for a Champions League night in Liverpool in 2014
LIVERPOOL VS DORTMUND FIRST LEG BY NUMBERS
Scorers: Origi (Liverpool 36), Hummels (Dortmund 48)
Possession: Dortmund (64%), Liverpool (36%)
Shots: Dortmund (16), Liverpool (13)
Shots on target: Dortmund (7), Liverpool (6)
Corners: Dortmund (5), Liverpool (1)
Fouls: Dortmund (13), Liverpool (14)
Yes, this has been quite a European week so far – with Manchester City’s progress to the Champions League semi-final and Cristiano Ronaldo’s majesty in the Bernabeu – but no fixture grabs the attention like this.
Dortmund, one of the finest sides on the continent and scorers of 119 goals so far this season, should be odds-on to beat Liverpool, currently the eighth best team in England and a squad that is in transition under Jurgen Klopp.
Circumstances and reputation will not matter, however, in the build-up to the 8.05 start.
Klopp will be cranking his players – and himself – up all day and from the moment their coach pulls up 75 minutes before kick-off, these Liverpool players will be hell-bent on creating a big night of their own.
Since the draw for this stage was made on March 18, the chatter amongst the squad has frequently turned to what Anfield will be like on April 14. Those who believe the Champions League is all that matters should listen to the talk inside the dressing room about reaching Basel on May 18.
‘We were concentrated on our game,’ said Dejan Lovren, reflecting on the 1-1 first leg draw at Signal Iduna Park.
‘He (Klopp) said “A lot of people will talk about me but at the end it is Dortmund versus Liverpool, not Dortmund versus Jurgen”. It was a good game and it was a great atmosphere.
‘They had the 12th man but we will have the 12th man at Anfield so it will be a different game with our supporters.
‘I think we will beat them in the atmosphere stakes. Everything is still open. They have a good team and have been playing well here but I think it will be a different game at Anfield.’
Liverpool are looking to recreate some of their most famous recent Anfield nights against Dortmund
Dejan Lovren gets a tackle in on Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the first leg clash in Germany
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp knows his team will have to be at their best to get past his old team Dortmund
That much is true. It will be different to anything Lovren, Klopp and many others at Liverpool will have experienced: being four games from a trophy – or one second from mistake to bring dreams crashing back to earth – lifts the atmosphere away from the norm.
Anfield, for a long period, has been quiet and some games in the Barclays Premier League have been horribly mundane, with away fans regularly taunting “where’s your famous atmosphere?” but switch on the lights and put one of Europe’s best in front of The Kop and the mood changes.
Liverpool, without question, will need to play better than at any stage of Klopp’s reign to reach the Europa League semi-finals.
Danger looms all over the pitch. This game is huge for Dortmund, as Thomas Tuchel showed last Sunday when making eight changes for a derby with Schalke.
For Klopp and Liverpool, however, the stakes are just as high.
In the early years of this century, the European tradition set in the 1970s and 1980s was maintained with huge results and memorable nights against teams such as Porto, Barcelona, Juventus and Chelsea.
In recent years, the feast has become a famine but now there is a chance to change.
Conquering Europe has been on Klopp’s agenda ever since he took a full strength team to Rubin Kazan last November.
With the spotlight back on Merseyside, he will not let this opportunity slip.