Eventually، the talking stops. Jürgen Klopp and his players have done all the interviews. They have been through all the tactics and there will come a time on Saturday evening، in the bowels of the NSC Olimpiyskiy، when they will be in their dressing room، fighting their nerves and، as Klopp acknowledged، those are the moments when Real Madrid’s experience will count in favour of the 12-times champions، as the Guardian said.
Liverpool’s opponents will be trying to emulate the great Ajax and Bayern Munich sides of the 1970s by winning this competition three seasons in a row، bringing their number of triumphs to 13 in total. Madrid، in Klopp’s words، “work like a clock from Switzerland” and، no matter how Liverpool have prepared for Cristiano Ronaldo، the lesson of history shows the five-times Ballon d’Or winner usually manages to leave his mark on these occasions.
It also shows that Liverpool have conceded the first goal in their last three European Cup finals and، going back to that famous night in Istanbul 13 years ago، that they were behind inside the opening 60 seconds against Milan. The free-kick Djimi Traoré gave away in the buildup to Paolo Maldini’s goal was put down to stage fright on the part of the Liverpool defender. Yet it did not need long in Klopp’s company to realise he thinks the current team have too much in their favour to allow nerves to take over.
“I am pretty sure in the second before the game that Real Madrid will be more confident than we are،” Klopp said، “but that is not a problem because the game doesn’t end in that second، it only starts. We’ve had two weeks to prepare and analyse. I’ve looked at the teams they have played – and they have played really strong teams. But they never played us and we are Liverpool. Not only are we a really good football team but this club has in its DNA to go for the big things. We are Liverpool. Nobody expected us to be here but we are here because we are Liverpool.
“The team with the most goals in the run to the final? It’s us. I can’t believe it but it’s true. We have scored the most goals and had exceptional performances. The experience they [Madrid] have is an advantage، 100%، but experience does not help you all the time. We need to make it as difficult as we can for them. We cannot try to fight on their level but tactics in football are there to bring a better opponent to your level and when they are on your level you can beat them.”
Klopp is entitled to speak confidently when his side have accumulated 46 goals، if qualifiers are counted، in this season’s competition، beating the record Barcelona set with 45 in the 1999-2000 season. Mohamed Salah، Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané have managed 31 between them and، in all competitions، that trio have scored 90 times. Salah alone has 44. Of course Klopp should be optimistic if his team can find the right balance between attack and defence، eliminate the mistakes that helped Roma in the semi-finals and hope that Loris Karius، their erratic goalkeeper، has an accident-free night.