‘Be yourselves’: Jürgen Klopp’s message to Liverpool before Real Madrid clash

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Watch: Champions League winner Julio Cesar 'in love' with Klopp

Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool face Real Madrid as equals in Saturday’s Champions League final and believes staging the event in Paris sends “exactly the right message” to Vladimir Putin over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Liverpool aim to become champions of Europe for a seventh time at Stade de France, where the 13-time winners, Real, and their four-time winning coach, Carlo Ancelotti, await. Real’s European stature and vast Champions League experience could give them an edge, Klopp acknowledged, but having reached the final three times in five seasons he insists his team should consider themselves on the same level.

Related: A punk singer and fake European Cup: how Klopp got Liverpool back on track

The Liverpool manager, asked who were favourites, said: “If you look at the history of the club, the experience of the other team and the way Real Madrid celebrated comebacks then I would say from my point of view that Real Madrid is the favourite. But actually I want us to be on the same level and thinking we are at the same level.

“I want us to completely be ourselves in this game. If we are on the top of our game we are difficult to play, really difficult to play. That is my only concern at the moment, that we be ourselves and be really confident as well. But of course the confidence level of the Madrid players is incredibly high.

“It would mean a lot to win. The world we are living in means we get judged by the final result. If you are a football person then you know what my boys did this season so far is absolutely exceptional but of course in the end it is all measured by the colour of the medal you get after a game. We are ready for that. History will tell us what people say about us. I am really happy with what we did so far.”

The Champions League final was due to be held in St Petersburg before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Uefa to relocate the game. Klopp paused and composed himself when asked about the significance of the switch, before declaring that the loss of a prestigious, global event would send a statement to Russia.

“I am happy that the game is here for thousands of reasons,” he said. “It’s a strange one. How to kill the mood [with the question]. The war is still going on and we have to think about that. The game still happens and the fact we are not in St Petersburg is exactly the right message that Russia should get. Life goes on even when you try to destroy it.

“We play this final for all the people in Ukraine. I am sure some people in Ukraine can still watch it and we do it for you, 100%.”

Workers install a new pitch at Stade de France this week. The job was finished at 1am on Friday.
Workers install a new pitch at Stade de France this week. The job was finished at 1am on Friday. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

The change of venue in February, coupled with post-pandemic events being held in quick succession at Stade de France, meant the pitch finished being laid only at 1am on Friday. Klopp admitted the surface was not ideal but said it did not dampen his mood.

Klopp, who has Thiago Alcântara and Fabinho available after injury, said: “Usually when I say the pitch looks new that is good news. This pitch is new since yesterday, which is not the best news, but it will be the same for both teams. I saw the refs with their session and the good news is the ball drops normal. You can see the lines where they put the pieces of the pitch together, which is what we aren’t used to. That someone thought it was a good idea to bring the pitch the day before to the stadium is an interesting idea. But it didn’t kill my mood 1%. I am really happy we are here, I would have played the game on pétanque.

“Both teams are technical teams and you would wish in a dream world that the pitch is the best you ever saw in your life. That’s obviously not the case. Maybe it’s perfect but it looks not perfect. I hope no one makes a story about ‘Klopp moaning about the pitch’. I’m fine.”

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