KIEV (Reuters) - Real Madrid head into Saturday’s Champions League final as defending champions and seeking their fourth European title in five years but opponents Liverpool give no indication of fearing Zinedine Zidane’s side.
A third straight win for Real would be unprecedented in the Champions League era but despite the Spaniards’ rich experience, Juergen Klopp’s team are certainly not lacking in self-belief.
“We know that Real Madrid are a fantastic team with fantastic players but we also believe that we have a good team as well and we need to go and perform at the level I know we are capable of. I feel that if we do that then we can definitely hurt Madrid,” said Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
It is a message that has clearly come from the top with Klopp firmly of the belief that while experience is an advantage, it is one that can be neutralised during the game.
“Experience is very important, and I’m pretty sure that in the second before the game Real Madrid will be more confident than we are. But that’s not important because the game doesn’t end in that second. It only starts,” said the German.
“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.
“And we are here because we are Liverpool. 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.”
It is eleven years since the Merseyside club’s last appearance in a Champions League final and none of the side have experienced the continent’s biggest game.
That could produce some nerves but Klopp believes his team have been prepared to cope with the occasion and the quality of the opponent.
“All the things we worked on since we were together are actually made for being used in a game like Saturday,” he said.
“That’s the only reason for doing it, being prepared for these really big moments. The players will be nervous, that’s a completely normal feeling.
“First whistle, play football, fight with your mates, shoot, strike, cross, make headers, bicycle kicks if you want or if you have the opportunity to do these things - because it’s only a football game, a big football game for sure, but only a football game.”
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge