MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos says his side will be ready for the “11 animals” that await them in their Champions League final meeting against Liverpool this Saturday in Kiev.
The playmaker is well-acquainted with Juergen Klopp, the Liverpool coach, from their days in the Bundesliga when Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund frequently got the better of Kroos’s Bayern Munich.
“When we played against his team, it was difficult. At Bayern Munich, we always had a lot of problems against Dortmund,” Kroos said. “We’re expecting an aggressive Liverpool who have a really quick forward line, but we can stop them. It will be tough.
“That is what I expect on Saturday. His teams are always aggressive, they press you a lot – for 90 minutes. They are highly motivated. I expect a very tough game for us but with opportunities to win.
“They will be 11 animals, all up for it. We might be better on the ball but they’re going to put us under pressure for 90 minutes and will be at 100 percent or even more.”
Just like his manager Zinedine Zidane earlier on Tuesday, Kroos refuted the claim that Liverpool might be hungrier given Madrid have won the past two editions of the competition.
“I think both are hungry and I don’t see a favourite. To reach a Champions League final you can’t be a bad team. Liverpool beat Manchester City, one of the big favourites,” the German said.
“I don’t see Liverpool having more hunger or anything. If you arrive in three Champions League finals in a row it shows you must be top in terms of motivation. If not, you don’t beat Paris (St Germain), Juventus and Bayern.”
Kroos was full of praise for Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who is enjoying a stunning first year with the club scoring 44 goals in all competitions.
“I have been very impressed by his numbers. I have not seen him that much but the numbers in the Premier League are impressive,” he said, before warning it would be an error just to focus on the Egyptian.
“We have to beat the Liverpool team – not just one player,” Kroos added.
With Madrid seeking a third consecutive Champions League crown and Klopp looking to end a run of five consecutive major cup finals without a win, one record will come to an end in Kiev - and Kroos is hoping it is not the reigning champions’.
“I didn’t know (Klopp’s record) but to arrive in the final is difficult enough,” he said. “I hope this record doesn’t change.”
Editing by Christian Radnedge