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Spirit of Liverpool can carry us to sixth Euro crown: Klopp


Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp believes the spirit which has carried Liverpool to Kiev is key to landing a sixth European Cup.

The Reds face 12-times winners Real Madrid tonight in a clash between two superpowers.

On the eve of the game, Klopp spoke defiantly of the belief which is embedded in the players' mindsets.

"Nobody expected us to be here, but we are because we are Liverpool," insisted Klopp. "This club has it in its DNA that it can really go for the big things."

Tonight's clash in Kiev's Olympic Stadium brings together two of European football's stellar names.

Liverpool are seeking a repeat of the glory night of Istanbul in 2005, when they overcame AC Milan on penalties.

Their last Champions League final was in 2007, when they lost against the Italians in Athens.

Real are playing in their fourth final in five years - and Klopp admitted they have the edge on big match experience.

But he said his players could be inspired by their own European journey, which has brought stunning wins over Manchester City and Roma.

"They have fought so hard to be here and they really deserve to be here. I'm really proud of them already," he added.

Klopp added: "Nine months ago when we started, we were already a good football team.

"Maybe a few of us dreamt of being in the final, and it's happened, but only because of the performances that we showed.

"That created a special spirit and you saw that in the last few games - it is our biggest strength for sure."

Klopp had words of praise for Real coach Zinedine Zidane.

"He was, for me, one of the best players of all time," he said.

"I'm longer at Liverpool than he is manager at Real Madrid but he can win the Champions League for the third time in a row - that has never happened before.

"I have to accept that he is brilliant, like he was as a player. I have seen his team play many matches and it's just fantastic football.

"They have world-class players, but it's football and there is still an opportunity for another team and that is enough for me."

The drive of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah - who will spearhead Liverpool's attack tonight - has been key to their run to the final.

Reds captain Jordan Henderson insisted they have the talent to hurt Real.

"We know that Real Madrid are a fantastic team with fantastic players but we also believe we are a good team," he added.

"We need to go and perform to the level we know that we are capable of.

"If we do that, then we can definitely go and hurt Madrid."

Henderson can emulate Steven Gerrard, who he replaced as captain in 2015, by leading Liverpool to European glory tonight.

However, the midfielder's focus is on other things, adding: "It's not about me. It's not about me filling anyone else's shoes.

"It's about this team and it's about us creating our own history.

"We've done fantastically well to get to this point, but we want to go one step further and remember it for the right reasons, and that means us winning the Champions League."

Liverpool lost the 2016 Europa League final to Sevilla, and Henderson believes it's time to deliver.

"We have learned from that experience and we can use that as motivation," he added.

"We have moved in the right direction since then. It's important we win trophies and hopefully we will win this one."

Real, meanwhile, have overcome Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to Kiev. Captain Sergio Ramos revealed they have felt "a little bit hurt" by not receiving more plaudits for reaching the final.

"It's inevitable when your opponent is being highlighted your victory is worth more," he added.

"We've beaten Juve, PSG then Bayern. It's been a hard road and now we have to get to the finish line and beat Liverpool.

"It's not a lack of respect when people don't value us. We try to shut our ears to criticism and praise. We are very focused."

Belfast Telegraph