Liverpool need Jürgen Klopp to demonstrate a cool head if they are to manage the pressures of the Champions League final, according to two-time winner Xabi Alonso. The Reds' unexpected run to Kiev sees them square off against a battle-hardened Real Madrid side seeking a third straight European triumph.
Klopp can keep Liverpool cool
Liverpool's most recent experience of a major European final was the Europa League defeat to Sevilla two years ago; Klopp himself however will be able to call on memories of coaching Borussia Dortmund in their 2013 defeat to Bayern Munich. Ex-Spain international Xabi Alonso, who enjoyed success at both clubs, believes the German's taste of the big stage makes him essential to bridging the gap between the two squads.
"For Jürgen, it's not his first final. So he's the leader, he needs to try to get the players ready for such big emotions," Xabi told Liverpool's club website. "For the Real Madrid guys, it's the opposite. They have played so many finals in the last few years, so they can manage the situation better. Later it's just 90 minutes for both sides, whatever happens. But the build-up is different. For sure it's good to have that experience. But it's good as well to have that excitement, that hunger, but you need to control as well the over-relaxation and the over-motivation."
Win-win for Xabi
Alonso admits he has split loyalties over what he expects to be an "unbelievable" encounter on Saturday. The retired midfielder scored in Liverpool's famous victory over AC Milan in 2005 and snared a second winners' medal when Madrid lifted the trophy nine years later.
"I have feelings for both clubs. I was lucky enough to win this trophy with both clubs so for me it's difficult to pick one and I will be happy whatever happens, that's for sure," he said. "A final with Madrid, with Liverpool... we have seen in the Champions League, the different stages, so many unexpected things have happened so I am ready for anything and everything that can happen."