Toni Kroos has said Real Madrid will face “11 animals” in Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool.
Kroos said the constant pressing of Jurgen Klopp’s team — something he experienced against Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund during his time at Bayern Munich — would pose big challenges.
“It is always tough, always difficult playing against Klopp’s teams,” Kroos said at Madrid’s media open day on Tuesday.
“With Bayern Munich we had a lot of problems against Dortmund, always. That is what I expect on Saturday also.
“They’ll be 11 animals, all really up for it. We’ll be better on the ball, but they’re going to put us under pressure for 90 minutes and will need to be at 100 percent or even more.
“We’re expecting an aggressive Liverpool, who have a really quick forward line, but we can stop them and can win.”
Madrid are looking to lift the trophy for a third consecutive year, something no side has been able to do since the Bayern Munich team of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller in the mid-1970s.
Kroos, going for the fourth Champions League win of his career, said surpassing the achievement of such giants of the game “would be madness.”
“That I get the chance to surpass that generation with the match in Kiev sounds a bit scary, I admit,” he said.
“Because of my age, I didn’t see that many games of the big players from that era. But the names alone have an unbelievable ring to them. When I pulled level with them last year, I could already hear them. But to better them would be madness.”
Madrid also won the Champions League in 2014, the season before Kroos arrived, and winger Gareth Bale is among the players aiming for a fourth triumph in five seasons.
“I came here to win the Champions League, play in the finals,” Bale told Real Madrid TV. “Obviously winning three, and having a chance to win a fourth, exceeds expectations.
“It’s great to be in this situation, and I’m looking forward to making it four. Winning titles is the reason I came to this club.”
Wales international Bale was a peripheral figure in the quarterfinals and semifinals amid speculation he could leave Madrid, but has made his case for a final place by scoring five goals in four La Liga outings.
“I feel like I’ve been in good form for a while,” he said. “I’ve scored a few goals, so I’m hitting form at the right time.”
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