Liverpool maanager Jurgen Klopp has stated that Real Madrid’s experience does not make them overwhelming favourites in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine.
Holders Madrid will be featuring in their third straight final and are aiming to become the first side to win the competition three straight times since it was changed from European Cup to Champions League.
In 2013, Klopp led Borussia Dortmund to the final which they lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich.
“I’ve never been twice in a row in a Champions League final so I don’t know what experience brings. Real Madrid will be more confident than we are at the beginning but the game does not end then,” Klopp said during his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“We’ve had two weeks to prepare. It’s clear after preparation. They are really strong but they’ve never played us. We are Liverpool. Not only a good football team but we have in our DNA that we can go for really big things.
“We are here because we are Liverpool. That’s the most exceptional run to a final with the most goals – I cannot believe it’s true but it’s us!
“We’ve scored the most goals and had the most exceptional run to the final. They have more experience – but in the game it does not help all the time. We have to make it as difficult as we can for them.”
Klopp reflected on his first Champions League final with Dortmund.
“A Champions League final is really big. As a manager you have a lot of things to do in preparation for it. A few things in training, but mostly in being convinced, cool, calm, whatever you want,” the German added.
“I’m sure I was more excited [at Dortmund] I never thought a lot of good things like this would happen to me. Getting to a final is hard to do, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
“We played a fantastic game against a strong side [losing to Bayern]. It took a while to get the opportunity again but my boys gave me that chance again. I’m really happy. This group of players fought so hard for this. They really deserve it. It feels good and I’m really proud already. Let’s play football.”
Klopp praised Zinedine Zidane as a great player and also manager for what he has achieved at Madrid.
“If people think Zidane has no tactical knowledge – because people think the same about me – it would be really funny if two managers in the final had no clue about tactics. What would that say about the game?” he added.
“Zinedine is one of the best footballers of all time. The same time I’m manager of Liverpool, he can win the CL for a third time. I have to expect that he’s brilliant, like he was as a player.
“This group of players work with him like a clock from Switzerland. That’s how it is. I’ve seen his team playing together a lot of times and it’s fantastic football.
“It’s organised when it needs to be organised and chaos when it needs to be chaos, but it’s football and there’s an opportunity for the other team. That’s enough for me.”
And on Mohamed Salah becoming FIFA Best Player, Klopp said: “That’s not important. No manager is interested in that. Messi and Ronaldo deserve their praise and all the things they’ve won.
“For years they were on that level and now are 30-something but still on that level.
“If Mo can do that, we will see. He has fantastic potential. There is one more game to go but the season was outstanding. The next few seasons will show if he can do something similar.”