Liverpool can win the Champions League final against Real Madrid if they play “almost the perfect game,” Xabi Alonso, who represented both clubs, has said.
Alonso won the 2005 Champions League in his first season at Liverpool, and added another with Madrid nine years later. The La Liga giants, who won the Champions League in 2016 and 2017, are chasing a hat trick of victories.
“Madrid are favourites for what they have achieved in the last few years,” Alonso said. “But that means nothing in football, and in a final even less.”
Managing the emotions of the occasion would be key for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, he added.
“They do not have this experience, for all the players it will be their first Champions League final,” he said.
“They have to deal with this emotional side, which is almost as important as the football side. If they can get the right balance between excitement and control, that is the right way to approach this final.”
Klopp, who lost the 2013 Champions League final to Bayern Munich while manager of Borussia Dortmund, would have worked out a way to neutralise Madrid’s threats, Alonso predicted.
“We can expect that Klopp will prepare a good plan,” he said. “He is analysing the whole game, the small details, because they know how difficult it is to stop Madrid, to beat Madrid.
“So they need to play the perfect game, almost. Liverpool must prepare very well for the game.”
Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid are attempting to become the first team to win three in a row since Bayern Munich did so in the 1970s.
“It is historic what they have achieved for the last few years, pretty unbelievable,” Alonso said.
“They should have admiration and respect from the football world. They are making history — big, and getting bigger.
“What Zidane is achieving in these last few years is just a big surprise, as a few years back you would think it was impossible.
“He has done so well to manage the team, to give the players a great belief in what he does. Their idea is clear, and the players know what to do in these big games. I’m sure that we can expect the Real Madrid of the big nights.”
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan