Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, has challenged his players to stop Real Madrid lifting a third consecutive Champions League trophy on Saturday and show fans that winning “big things” is still in the club’s DNA.
With a record 12 titles to their name and winners of the past two editions, Real go into the final in Kiev’s Olympic Stadium as the favourites.
Klopp admits the Spanish giants’ huge experience in Europe is “important” and that Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates will be brimming with confidence in the seconds before kick-off at 1845 GMT.
But when the whistle blows, Klopp believes the spirit shown by his players on their “exceptional” run to the final could be enough to show Real that experience is not everything.
“I have never been twice in a row to a Champions League final,” said Klopp, who led Borussia Dortmund to 2013 final where they were defeated by Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.
“Experience is important, I’m pretty sure that in the seconds before the game Real will be more confident that we are, but that’s not important because the game doesn’t end at that moment, it only starts.
“You analyse Real Madrid playing in other games against other teams and you think ‘wow, they are really strong’, but they never played us.
“We are Liverpool and we are not just a good team, this club has in its DNA that we can really go for the big things.
“Nobody expected us to be here but we are here because we are Liverpool. The games we had in the Champions League, it was the most exceptional run to a final, with the most goals.
“I can’t believe that but it’s true that’s us. The experience they have is a big advantage, 100 percent, to feel more confident but in the game, the experience doesn’t help all the time.”
Winners of the first five editions of Europe’s premier club competition, Real are again enjoying another golden era in Europe.
Neither Atletico Madrid (twice) nor Juventus has been able to stop Ronaldo from inflicting pain on them in recent finals.
Yet Liverpool’s own attacking quality suggests the Olympic Stadium in the Ukrainian capital could be the scene of an unforgettable encounter.
Liverpool has scored a record 46 goals in all in this season’s Champions League, with Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah netting 11 of those.
In terms of history alone, this is a dream final.
Real’s 12 European Cup wins puts them way ahead of the rest, but Liverpool has lifted the famous trophy five times.
If Klopp needs inspiration for his pre-match pep talk, the German need look no further than the Liverpool team of 2005.
Trailing 3-0 to AC Milan at half-time in Istanbul, a side led by Steven Gerrard struck three times in the second half to force extra-time before prevailing on penalties in what is still considered the most spectacular comeback in the history of the competition.