Real Madrid ready for chaos in Champions League final, says Zidane

• Madrid manager says pressure brings best from his team
• ‘We have had chaos before and we will have tomorrow, for sure’ As his Real Madrid side arrived in Kiev to face Liverpool in the Champions League final, Zinedine Zidane admitted that he is ready for chaos and insisted that if there was pressure, they would be all the better for it. “Today and tomorrow will never happen again; we will live other experiences, but never this, so we have to make the most of it,” the Frenchman said. “And if there’s a bit of pressure, no problem. It’s life, it’s better like that – a bit of emotion. We’re humans and humans are pure emotion. With pressure it’s even nicer.” Continue reading...

Mohamed Salah can become modern great like Messi and Ronaldo, says Klopp

• Liverpool manager says forward can become a modern great
• Sergio Ramos says Messi and Ronaldo are ‘in another orbit’ Jürgen Klopp has said Mohamed Salah can follow Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as a modern great but that the forward’s only ambition must be sealing a phenomenal campaign for Liverpool with a starring role in the Champions League final. Salah has scored 44 goals in his debut season as a Liverpool player, three short of the all-time club record set by Ian Rush in 1984. The Egypt international has one more chance to catch Rush against Real Madrid in Kiev on Saturday when Liverpool aim to win the European Cup for a sixth time. Continue reading...

Real Betis manager Quique Setién: how to beat Real Madrid

One of the coaches to have defeated Zidane’s side this season advises Liverpool to keep the ball and warns of Madrid’s ‘anarchy’This Champions League final is a game that in theory should finish 4-4. It could be very entertaining for the fans, but perhaps not for the coaches. Real Madrid are a team who are a little anarchic. They don’t have a permanent shape: although they will play with four at the back and with Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the middle, the way they set up from there can change. Cristiano Ronaldo may be through the middle or wider and much depends on his role. If he and Karim Benzema play, it tends to be 4-4-2 but Gareth Bale could start, and/or Isco, Lucas Vázquez or Marco Asensio. All mean different things for the shape. That anarchic nature is more a general point, though. Madrid’s players Continue reading "Real Betis manager Quique Setién: how to beat Real Madrid"

Joker, thinker, friend, dictator: the many faces of Jürgen Klopp

As Liverpool’s manager prepares to face Real Madrid, Donald McRae reflects on the Klopp he knows – and how calm is keyJürgen Klopp knew we had met before but, at Liverpool’s training ground last month, he could not recall the exact setting of our first interview. The answer made him groan. Four years ago this month in Dortmund, 10 days before the 2013 Champions League final at Wembley, Klopp had been in a sparkling mood. As he prepared to lead Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich in an all-German battle for European football’s greatest prize, he offered engaging insights into his managerial style while urging the neutral fan to support his team. “If you want the new story, the special story, it must be Dortmund,” Klopp said. “You have to be on our side.” Continue reading...

Liverpool can exploit Ronaldo’s weaknesses – Alexander-Arnold

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Liverpool (AFP) – At just 19 years of age, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold faces a daunting task of stopping five-time World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo in Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev. But the fresh-faced right-back isn’t overawed by the prospect and believes he can even expose Ronaldo’s own weaknesses. A whirlwind season for Alexander-Arnold was capped by a call-up to England’s World Cup squad despite not having yet made his debut for the senior national side. He has been just one of a number of success stories of Jurgen Klopp’s management to end an 11-year wait for Liverpool to reach a Champions League final. The gulf in experience couldn’t be greater in the Ukranian capital, though, as Real aim for a fourth European Cup in five seasons. Ronaldo is going for his fifth Champions League winner’s medal having also lifted the trophy with Manchester United in 2008. Yet, Continue reading "Liverpool can exploit Ronaldo’s weaknesses – Alexander-Arnold"

Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery

Never mind the record books, Liverpool’s task in Kiev on Saturday is finding a way of beating a team who feel right at home in Champions League finals Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev promises to be that rare event, a meeting of outstanding teams that manages to live up to its billing, though the television trailer advertising the fact that the contestants have 17 European Cups between them is being ever so slightly economical with the truth. The figure is correct, it is just that Liverpool’s proud total of five is dwarfed by the Spanish club’s dozen. Not many teams can make Liverpool feel inferior in Europe, but Real Madrid can. The current holders of the trophy have a habit of making everyone feel inferior. No one else is yet in double figures. No one else has won back-to-back titles in both the original European Cup knockout format and Continue reading "Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery"

Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery

Never mind the record books, Liverpool’s task in Kiev on Saturday is finding a way of beating a team who feel right at home in Champions League finals Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev promises to be that rare event, a meeting of outstanding teams that manages to live up to its billing, though the television trailer advertising the fact that the contestants have 17 European Cups between them is being ever so slightly economical with the truth. The figure is correct, it is just that Liverpool’s proud total of five is dwarfed by the Spanish club’s dozen. Not many teams can make Liverpool feel inferior in Europe, but Real Madrid can. The current holders of the trophy have a habit of making everyone feel inferior. No one else is yet in double figures. No one else has won back-to-back titles in both the original European Cup knockout format and Continue reading "Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery"

Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery

Never mind the record books, Liverpool’s task in Kiev on Saturday is finding a way of beating a team who feel right at home in Champions League finals Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev promises to be that rare event, a meeting of outstanding teams that manages to live up to its billing, though the television trailer advertising the fact that the contestants have 17 European Cups between them is being ever so slightly economical with the truth. The figure is correct, it is just that Liverpool’s proud total of five is dwarfed by the Spanish club’s dozen. Not many teams can make Liverpool feel inferior in Europe, but Real Madrid can. The current holders of the trophy have a habit of making everyone feel inferior. No one else is yet in double figures. No one else has won back-to-back titles in both the original European Cup knockout format and Continue reading "Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery"

Liverpool face key call over how to use Mohamed Salah against Real Madrid

Jürgen Klopp can ask Salah to drop and help Trent Alexander-Arnold or concentrate on exploiting the space behind Marcelo and the Brazilian’s defensive weaknesses Nothing, perhaps, should give Liverpool such heart ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final as Bayern Munich’s first goal against Real Madrid in the second leg of the semi. Nothing dramatic happens. Franck Ribéry turns in from the left flank and plays an unremarkable low pass in to Robert Lewandowski in a central position on the edge of the box. The ball bounces up in front of the Polish striker and his first touch as a result takes him away from goal. He is able, though, to shield the ball and, as Sergio Ramos decides to sit off, Lewandowski has time to work the ball wide left to Thomas Müller who is, bafflingly, in 15 yards of space, out on the right touchline, roughly level with the Continue reading "Liverpool face key call over how to use Mohamed Salah against Real Madrid"

Dejan Lovren: ‘The only thing similar about Liverpool to 2014 is our name’

The Croatia defender played in the meek defeats by Real Madrid under Brendan Rodgers but says the club are very different nowMemories of Dejan Lovren’s last Champions League encounter with Real Madrid and the similarities with Saturday’s final might once have caused him to wince. Today they inspire only belief. “If I see fear in a team-mate’s eyes I will slap him and say: ‘Come on,’” the Liverpool centre-half explains. “But when I look in their eyes now, the young lads and the experienced lads, they are full of confidence. We are not in the final without a reason.” Kiev is an opportunity for Real to see how far Liverpool have come. The Spanish club were the European champions with a forward line of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema when they handed Lovren and Liverpool a lesson at Anfield in October 2014. The strikers, two of seven Real Continue reading "Dejan Lovren: ‘The only thing similar about Liverpool to 2014 is our name’"

Liverpool will be like ‘11 animals’ in the final, claims Toni Kroos

• Real Madrid braced to face ‘tough’ and ‘aggressive’ opponents
• Midfielder says Jürgen Klopp sides are always difficult to beatToni Kroos says that Real Madrid will face “11 animals” in the Champions League final on Saturday and insists that Liverpool will be “tough,” “aggressive” opponents, prepared to press for 90 minutes but that Madrid will have “opportunities” to win a match he described as “50-50”. Related: Zinedine Zidane full of praise for Jürgen Klopp’s ‘formidable work’ at Liverpool Continue reading...

Rafael Benítez: ‘Liverpool can do it but they have to manage the pressure’

Rafael Benítez reflects on his greatest night in Istanbul and says before the final against Real Madrid on Saturday that a sixth European Cup is not beyond the Anfield club Rafael Benítez has already selected the shirt he intends wearing on Saturday evening. “It’s grey,” says Newcastle United’s manager, deadpan. Considering that some of the best years of Benítez’s life have been spent representing Liverpool and Real Madrid, publicly choosing red over white, or vice versa, would represent a diplomatic gaffe to make even Boris Johnson blush. Continue reading...

Zinedine Zidane full of praise for Jürgen Klopp’s ‘formidable work’ at Liverpool

Bernabéu manager expects a clash of styles in the Kiev final and is fully aware of Liverpool’s three forwards and their threat Zinédine Zidane has praised his “formidable” opposite number Jürgen Klopp before Real Madrid take on Liverpool in Saturday’s Champions League final. The Frenchman was full of praise for the German manager, who has led Liverpool to two European finals since he took over towards the end of 2015. “I don’t know him personally, I’ve never spoken with him, but I’ve seen his work and it’s formidable,” Zidane said. “He has shown it over the years, not only at Dortmund but also now with Liverpool. I respect him a lot for what he’s doing in the Champions League and Premier League.” Continue reading...

Desire can deliver Champions League dream for Liverpool, says Jürgen Klopp

• Klopp says his team can overcome experience of Real Madrid
• Adam Lallana and Emre Can increase Klopp’s selection optionsJürgen Klopp believes Liverpool’s bravery, work-rate and desire for a sixth European Cup can compensate for Real Madrid’s greater experience when the sides meet in the Champions League final. Saturday’s contest in Kiev will be Real’s fourth Champions League final in five years, with Zinedine Zidane’s holders aiming to lift the trophy for a third consecutive season. No club has won a hat-trick of European Cups since Bayern Munich in 1974, 75 and 76. Liverpool’s recent European record pales by comparison but having reached a first final in 11 years with several exhilarating performances and scored a competition record 40 goals en route, their manager is confident his team’s virtues can prove decisive in Ukraine. Continue reading...

Andy Robertson: ‘The problem with Real Madrid is they’re all fantastic’

The Liverpool left-back on how he went from being a Celtic reject to facing Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final“It’s hard not to think about it,” Andy Robertson says as he looks forward to the Champions League final after the Liverpool left-back has reflected for 45 minutes on his uplifting story from being a Celtic reject and relegated with Hull City a year ago to facing Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid in Kiev this Saturday. “When you’re lying in bed you just think: ‘What if?’” Robertson’s freckly face breaks into a helpless smile. He has fought hard to reach this point but the 24-year-old Scot allows himself to enjoy the fleeting anticipation of Liverpool possibly becoming European champions for a sixth time with Robertson as one of their new cult heroes. “That’s natural,” he says during a break at Liverpool’s training camp in Marbella. “Real Madrid have Continue reading "Andy Robertson: ‘The problem with Real Madrid is they’re all fantastic’"