Klopp press conference: Real Madrid v Liverpool Champions League Final
Jürgen Klopp says it’s been a learning process for him and his players and it is all starting to connect for Liverpool: “The club is in a good place. Right now, the boys are exactly the right players for this club”.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp faced the media ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final. He said that Fabinho and Thiago have been training as normal and that he doesn’t see the game as an opportunity to get revenge on Real Madrid for the 2018 final.
How is the mood in the camp and can you give an update on Thiago and Fabinho? “The mood is good, very good. I’m really excited about being here now, getting a feeling for a stadium for a location… and it looks good for both Fabinho trained completely normal. Thiago trained yesterday with the team, will train today and we’ll take it from there”.
If you win, would victory be sweeter than the 2019 final? “I have no idea how it will feel if we win it, to be honest. You’d have to ask me that question after the game. At the moment, we are more in the mood to prepare, so that we can give them a real game, a proper fight… Yes, you are right, Real Madrid is the most decorated club, it’s a team where some players can win it for the fifth time, the manager can win it a fourth time… that says a lot obviously so we can get that kind of experience overnight. But we are here for the third time in five years, that’s special as well. The only thing we are thinking about is how to prepare the game, how to play the game - I didn’t think for a second how it would feel if [we win it] because I’m patient enough to wait for that moment and tell you then”.
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Special significance for Salah after injury in the 2018 final: “Nobody has to worry about Mo, it’s completely normal for him. We all lost that day. But he got injured early in the game - he’s in a very good shape and and he was in a very good shape then so if it feels different for him, you can ask him - it’s a normal feeling. We all get motivated by different things. I have 26 or 27 players here and they all get motivated by different things, it’s completely fine. And I have no problem with that. The only thing is if it’s the only motivation but that’s not the case for Mo. It’s normal that he wants to put things right, we want to put things right. We didn’t forget what happened that time but it’s a long while ago now and we can’t come here and it would make no sense for me to show a movie of that game to motivate the team. We have so many reasons to give our everything tomorrow night”.
New pitch at Stade de France: “Usually, when they say a pitch looks new it’s good news. I have no idea how it will be but we will do a completely normal session - what we have planned, which is not a lot at this point of the season. I saw the refs with their session, the good news is that the ball drops normal, that’s helpful… You can see the lines where they laid the pitch and that’s not something which we are all used to but again, that’s not a problem because the good new is that both teams play on this pitch. That somebody thought it was a good idea to lay the pitch before the game... it’s an ‘interesting’ idea. But it is what it is. It didn’t kill my mood for even one per cent. I am really happy that we are here and we would have played on a pétanque court if you asked me. It’s fine, we’re here and we’ll play the game”.
Sadio Mané linked to Bayern. Naby Keita’s season: “Sadio is in the shape of his life, for sure, he’s in brilliant shape. It’s a joy to watch him in training and in games. We have asked a lot of him - football has asked a lot from him this year. It’ been an incredibly long season, a lot of finals. One of the most successful seasons so far for him and for us. The Bayern Munich rumours... I couldn’t care less at this moment, we are all fully focused on this game. Sadio’s completely focused on the game, he knows how important it is, to him and to us. So no concerns, completely normal. It’s not the first time in my career that Bayern Munich rumours come up before decisive games. I’m not sure what I did for that to happen... No problem at all. Naby, yeah, Naby, you’re right. It’s important that we can train consistently, play consistently - and that’s possible when you are not injured. And that’s what happened to Naby this year. He’s at a perfect age, he is more and more experienced. There is always an adaptation period when you first arrive at Liverpool, players usually need time to adapt to my teams. In this area, in midfield especially, Fabinho needed time. The problem was that after Naby adapted he got injured, but he’s in the shape of his life now as well, I would say - an incredibly important player”.
Who is the favourite? “Favourite? And you said it was an easy question… There is no easy answer to that, I don’t know. If you look back at history of the club, of the experience of the other team, of the way Real Madrid pretty much celebrate comebacks, crazy comebacks. From my point of view, it’s Real Madrid for their experience but actually, I want us to be on the same level in these kinds of things. I want us to be us in this game and be completely ourselves. If we are on the top of our game we are difficult to play, really difficult and that’s my only concern at the moment - that we do that and be ourselves. So, favourite? I don’t know, I couldn’t care less”.
Mané and Bayern: “This is the wrong moment to speak about that. I said it before, wherever Sadio players next season, he will be a big player - definitely”.
How has your team changed and developed in the last four years since the 2018 final? “Whatever you do in life, you have to gain experience. So on your first day in a new job, you don’t say, ‘Oh my God, that was the best day in my life’. You take it from there. You might get the first little success here, little things you achieve there... then all of a sudden you are on a big stage and you have to deliver. We delivered that night but the circumstances hit us, and we couldn’t react and that’s how it is. It was a long season as well, and we arrived pretty much on three wheels. I think we didn’t have a full bench, I’m not 100% sure. But we had key players coming back from injuries. And then what happened with Mo, and the goals, our goalies had concussion… Nobody thinks about that but he had concussion, it was proven afterwards - not during the match. You have to learn to win. You have to. Nobody can wait for that - everybody tells you that you have to do it now but I had to learn it the hard way. The real hard way. I lost a lot of finals in my life but thankfully the last few we could win. We all had to learn that and this team learned. The problem we have now is that we’re facing a team that has never lost a final... so, the boys developed enormously over the last few years. The club is in a good place. Everybody is connected. Right now, the boys are exactly the right players for this club”.
Mané, favourite for the Ballon d’Or: “When you think about ho these competitions are won, then yes. You are either Ronaldo, Messi or you won the Champions League final. I think that’s the way you do it. That’s how it’s been over the last few years. So winning will increase his chances, definitely”.
You’re the ‘normal one’ but will you do something extra to win tomorrow? “If I did something surprising for my players, they could think I’m nervous. We are not here by surprise. Being ourselves, at our highest level, would be cool. We can talk about what Real Madrid achieved in the past - and this season. You could probably write a book about this Madrid team, but we are good as well and that’s what we want to show ”.
The final moved to Paris from Saint Petersburg: “Until you asked me, I was only concerned about the game. I’m not sure if you expect a political message from me... I’m happy that the game is here, for a thousand reasons. It’s strange, the war’s still going on and you’re right, we have to think about that. That the game goes ahead, and not is Saint Petersburg is exactly the right message, what Russia should get. Life goes on, even when you try to destroy it. So we play this final for all the people in Ukraine. I’m pretty sure some of them will be able to watch it and we do it for you as well - 100%”.