Watch now: One Kopite's 43-year love affair with the European Cup

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 10:36

Kopite Stephen Monaghan relives 43 years of travelling across Europe in an exclusive LFCTV short film - and the programme is available to subscribers now.

'Mono', a lifelong Red, will travel to his ninth European Cup final this weekend when the Reds take on Tottenham Hotspur in the heat of Madrid. 

The mini-documentary about his European adventures, entitled We Won It Five Times, is available to watch above now for LFCTV GO subscribers. It will also air on LFCTV at 7pm BST tonight.

Mono first went to Anfield with his dad in the mid-1960s, and has followed the team home and away for five decades. 

His first European away game arrived in 1976, when Liverpool won the UEFA Cup against Club Brugge in Belgium. However, it was during the following season the true magic began to unfold. 

Mono went to Saint-Etienne and Zurich before making the trip to Rome, where Emlyn Hughes lifted the European Cup for the first time in Liverpool's history.

By 1984, he had watched Liverpool gather no fewer than four European Cups, and some 20 years later he was in Istanbul alongside his son Joe to witness the comeback of all comebacks.

And in an emotional tribute to his beloved club, Mono shares it all in the new film above.

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Watch now: One Kopite's 43-year love affair with the European Cup

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 10:36
Kopite Stephen Monaghan relives 43 years of travelling across Europe in an exclusive LFCTV short film - and the programme is available to subscribers now.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Estadio Metropolitano: Gallery and guide

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 10:00

Liverpool will play Tottenham Hotspur in the 2018-19 Champions League final at the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid on Saturday - and here's our bite-sized guide to the newly-built stadium.

Constructed on the site of a former athletics ground, the Metropolitano has a capacity of around 68,000 and replaced the Estadio Vicente Calderon as the new home of Atletico Madrid when it opened in September 2017.

The name refers back to the old Estadio Metropolitano de Madrid, where Atleti played before moving to the Calderon in 1966.

Los Colchoneros played their first game at the new ground four matches into the 2017-18 La Liga season, when Antoine Griezmann's strike earned a 1-0 win over Malaga in front of a reduced-capacity crowd of around 62,000.

The record attendance to date came in the derby against Real Madrid in February 2019 when 67,804 fans watched the hosts lose 3-1 to their cross-city rivals.

Only one player from the current Liverpool or Tottenham squads has played at the Metropolitano: Reds goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

The Brazilian was part of the AS Roma side that lost 2-0 in Madrid in the group stages of the 2017-18 Champions League.

Alisson was in the away dressing room that day but will be in the opposite locker room for the Champions League final, despite Spurs being the designated home team.

With Tottenham's fans located in the north of the stadium and Liverpool's in the south, the organisers have switched home and away changing rooms and dugouts so each club is nearer to their own supporters.

The Metropolitano boasts a proximity to the pitch that many European grounds can't match - just 5.89 metres away from the white lines in some places.

Constructed with environmental concerns in mind, the stadium is the first in the world to be illuminated 100 per cent by LED technology and uses recycled rainwater to irrigate the pitch.

Located on Avenida de Luis Aragones in the north-east of Madrid, the ground is served by its own metro stop - also named Estadio Metropolitano.

It is a 30-minute journey, with a transfer at Avenida De America station, from La Goya metro stop - located nearest to the LFC Fan Park in Plaza de Felipe II.

Check out our stunning gallery of the venue below...

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Estadio Metropolitano: Gallery and guide

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 10:00
Liverpool will play Tottenham Hotspur in the 2018-19 Champions League final at the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid on Saturday - and here's our bite-sized guide to the newly-built stadium.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Steven Gerrard: I think 'Imagine playing for Jürgen Klopp'

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 09:30

It was an opportunity that never materialised for Steven Gerrard.

But the Liverpool legend cannot help but imagine how it would have felt to play for Jürgen Klopp.

Gerrard departed the Reds a matter of months before Klopp took charge and began a revolution that has brought the club to a second consecutive Champions League final appearance on Saturday night.

“I’ve had many sit-downs with him. He’s an open book – he invites me into his office – I’m incredibly lucky and blessed I do get that invite,” said Gerrard, whose coaching career began at Liverpool’s Academy in 2017.

“And the thing I take away is: Imagine playing for him. I wasn’t lucky enough to play for Jürgen Klopp. Probably too old. Just missed the boat if you like. But, I’m almost jealous of the Liverpool players.

“I come out of his office after a sit-down, and when I walk out of the training ground, I actually want to walk back in and sit with him. I want to put a kit on and play for them, and run for them and run hard. He’s infectious, he inspires you.”

[embedded content]

Klopp’s men will meet Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Estadio Metropolitano this weekend for the right to be crowned European champions.

The analysis from both camps and outside is that the final will be similarly tight as the two league meetings – both won 2-1 by the Reds – were this season.

Gerrard agrees, but the former Liverpool captain believes they are equipped to ensure Jordan Henderson emulates him in hoisting aloft the trophy.

“Two finals in two years. It’s an incredible achievement,” he said.

“Those people trying to put Jürgen down, I think all you’ve got to say is, before Jürgen came in they hadn’t been to a European final since 2007.

“Now, he’s put this team alongside the top teams in the world. The Madrids, the Barcelonas — you see him beat Barcelona 4-0.

“It’s a tight game to call, but if both teams play to their absolute maximum, I think Liverpool will just edge it.”

[embedded content]

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Live updates: Information for fans travelling to Madrid

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 09:30

The one-day travel pass you will be issued alongside your match ticket can be used on any day; however, they are valid from the first time used until 5am the following day only.

For example, if you arrive in Madrid on Thursday and use your travel pass for the first time that day, your pass will expire at 5am on Friday.

Once the pass has expired, supporters can pay to recharge the travel pass in any of the automatic machines in the Metro.

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Travelling to Madrid? Download our fan guides

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 09:30

Liverpool supporters travelling to Madrid for Saturday's Champions League final are advised to check out the selection of fan guides available to download online ahead of the game.

The online booklets can be viewed by clicking here and contain key information for those who are making the journey to Spain.

Liverpoolfc.com will also be running a live blog dedicated to bringing supporters up-to-the-minute information regarding travel and events in Madrid. Click here to view updates.

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Steven Gerrard: I think 'Imagine playing for Jürgen Klopp'

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 09:30
It was an opportunity that never materialised for Steven Gerrard.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Live updates: Information for fans travelling to Madrid

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 09:30
Follow our dedicated blog for live updates containing important information for Liverpool fans travelling to Madrid for the Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Travelling to Madrid? Download our fan guides

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 09:30
Liverpool supporters travelling to Madrid for Saturday's Champions League final are advised to check out the selection of fan guides available to download online ahead of the game.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Quiz: Can you name Liverpool's 65 European Cup finalists?

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 09:00
Liverpool will contest a ninth European Cup final on Saturday night - but can you remember who has represented the club on their eight previous appearances?
Categories: LFC NEWS

Big interview | Jürgen Klopp: I'm so proud - but now is not the time to feel it

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 07:00

“I don’t know exactly how it works but obviously it works and it’s just nice to be part of.”

Jürgen Klopp is referencing an age-old Liverpool Football Club adage.

The German’s tongue is somewhat in cheek; however, there is no uncertainty about his underlying message.

It’s a fable that’s been passed down through generations of Reds supporters for decades, but one that – somehow – continually has new chapters written into it.

As was the case just over three short weeks ago.

“It’s special,” Klopp continues, as he looks to find the correct words to explain what he is thinking. “And it felt from time to time… like… that the Kop was like sucking the ball into the goal.

“That’s how it feels.”

Cold science would, of course, put paid to this parable. Nevertheless, anyone who has been fortunate enough to be present at Anfield on a European night will know that – sometimes – logic is thrown out of the window.

Indeed, against Barcelona earlier this month, it was not so much thrown as it was sent hurtling through a glass pane with brute force.

“Look, a lot of things are like a legend if you speak about the atmosphere here or there,” Klopp says. “I’ve said it a couple of times, I’m really blessed, yeah. I’ve had great atmospheres in my life that are crazy, unbelievable…”

Crazy, unbelievable. Apt words to try to articulate just what unfolded at Anfield on the night of Tuesday May 7.

By now you know the story, but in summary: with no Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool needed to overturn the three-goal deficit they’d – somewhat harshly, perhaps – succumbed to against Barcelona at Camp Nou six days earlier if they were to qualify for a second final in a year.

And if they were to do so, they’d have to stop Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and co.

“It was the last moment, the final whistle against Barcelona when I realised, ‘Oops, it really happened!’,” Klopp smiles in response to a question about his team’s standout moment of the Champions League campaign so far.

“When we lost the first game in Barcelona I was completely fine with the game, rather happy with the game in fact, but of course there was the scoreline… I’m not silly and I can read. But I couldn’t feel it, I couldn’t feel the scoreline, I only felt the game.

“During the game it was like you have these moments as a coach, I got the question a couple of times, if I enjoyed these situations or was it difficult to enjoy it? I enjoyed that game like hell, it was brilliant! But we lost 3-0! In the dressing room because of the performance we didn’t say it, we didn’t speak about it, why should we?

“And it was not a situation where we would go out and shout towards the Barcelona dressing room ‘See you at Anfield!’ or whatever. It was not like this. We were sitting in the dressing room and I told the boys what I wanted to tell them. It was clear. We had no breakdown or whatever, we didn’t have to start new and forget everything what had happened so far.

“So, we wanted to use what we did in Barcelona. Then we had to play Newcastle, which was obviously a very tough game for different reasons, and then we had two days to prepare really for the Barca game at Anfield.

“I knew before that Bobby [Firmino] and Mo [Salah] could not play and that usually doesn’t help, but there was not one second that me or the boys thought, ‘How can that work?’

“We knew it was difficult. Pretty much impossible. But pretty much means it’s not absolutely impossible. That must be enough to start the project.

“For me, the key moment in that game was kick-off, they passed the ball back and we jumped on them! I described it to the boys as [being] like lions who had not been fed for eight weeks! I was like, ‘Wow! OK, that’s a good start! That's how it can work.’

“And then we scored and then it was an open game, I would say. Big chances for Barcelona, in fact I think they had bigger chances than they had in the first game, so you need your goalkeeper and you need a lot of passion and stuff and the boys did brilliant.

“At half-time we lost our left-back [Andy Robertson] and it’s not as if we had 12 left-backs on the bench to choose from. Robbo said he couldn’t activate the muscle... that doesn’t help in life and in football it doesn’t help as well.

“But again, nobody thought when we spoke about the second half how can we create chances when Robbo is not on the pitch? We had Millie [James Milner], a logical decision at left-back. Gini [Wijnaldum] playing half-left. Go.

"And then the rest is pretty much history!”

[embedded content]

And so, Barcelona’s advantage was vanquished at Anfield as Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum struck twice, Trent Alexander-Arnold displayed intelligence that belies his tender years to assist the winner, Jordan Henderson performed like a man possessed despite injury, Liverpool fought for every inch and supporters once again demonstrated the power of Anfield.

“It’s so crazy. When you are in the dugout and you watch it, you realise the celebrations and all that stuff, then the final whistle… wow! It really happened. After that you have to say it was historical, it was. Because this kind of game with all the circumstances will not happen 500 times, that’s just how it is. Being part of it, it’s really cool.

“Again, this year, the combination of football and atmosphere was exceptional.”

Now it is, of course, to Madrid, where Tottenham Hotspur await as Liverpool get set to contest successive Champions League finals.

The raw emotion of that night at Anfield has been replaced by steely determination and focus within the camp.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys, but we not in the moment to feel it,” Klopp states. “I have to kick their backsides in training, I have to push them, I have to keep them awake.

“I’m proud - very proud - but it’s not a moment to feel it; it’s a moment to really feel each muscle and it’s important we really say, ‘OK, come on, we need everything to do it because we want it.’”

Liverpool do want it, make no mistake.

A year ago, they were left heartbroken in Kiev following a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the tournament showpiece.

“Now we are here again and what it says about the team is they don’t give up, they don’t stop. Last year when we flew back from Kiev, after the game directly, there was a moment when we were all really sad and disappointed, frustrated, whatever.

“I was standing behind all the guys in the [airport] queue and going to the plane and I really thought, ‘We have to come back, we have to go back and get this thing right!’ And that we have that chance in the next year immediately is big, it’s really big.

“But, we respect the opponent massively of course. We respect them as a good team with a very special Champions League story as well this year. So, it will be a tough game, of course.”

There is an abundance of admiration for Spurs and Mauricio Pochettino among the Liverpool squad.

While the Reds may have edged both Premier League fixtures 2-1 this season – and finished ahead of them in the final table – there is a collective acknowledgment such statistics will have no bearing on Saturday’s final.

“They are really, really strong,” Klopp considers. “We won both games in the league, we know that, we had a points advantage [in the table], but all those things don’t count. When we think about the home game, we played a brilliant first half, but the second half was not in the same way. It’s not that we were five levels above them, but that’s how a final actually should be.

“We think about Tottenham, of course, and what they do, they change systems, and they changed it in the game [at Anfield] and all that stuff. So, maybe in three weeks from their last matchday to the final they will have another system. Who knows? They are the things we both can do actually until we start and we will see what happens.

“We have to be ready for that game. We have to play the game. I can imagine that people think about it - a few are convinced until the first whistle we will win it and a few think, ‘Oh, again we will lose it.’ In the end we have to play the game and that’s what we will do with all we have as brave as we were the whole year, with all the desire we showed the whole year – that’s clear.

“We are in the Champions League final for the second year in a row, wow! But we had the games, we had difficult games to overcome, difficult moments so we should be ready - and we will be ready.”

Liverpool’s ability to overturn such difficult situations in difficult circumstances in games earned them the nickname ‘mentality monsters’.

In fact, it was one coined by the boss himself.

Klopp laughs: “I used another word before that… but I am not allowed to say that obviously! Look, the last part of the season, the whole season, was pretty intense.

“Up to matchday five [in the Premier League] it looked like it could be a special season. It was a special season. But then immediately the response was people say you cannot drop points because the other teams don’t drop points.

“So, it made the season very intense from the very start and then in the Champions League we got through, a sensational last 16, the quarter-final good and the semi-final outstanding. In between, there was always these very difficult Premier League games like Newcastle away. Oh wow, it was like a cup final! The atmosphere was like a cup final, but really pushing through this and doing the job was so special.

“Quite a lot of times, I was really touched by what the boys did, scoring the goals we scored, fighting the fights we fought and all that stuff. It was special and of course you can’t always do it like this. We have a lot of potential in the team and the boys mixed it up with an attitude I never saw before and that’s just outstanding.

“And that’s what I meant when I said they are ‘mentality monsters’.”

Liverpool’s resilience saw them post a club-record Premier League campaign, featuring a point haul of 97 and just one defeat throughout the term.

Ultimately, though, the Reds were narrowly pipped to the title by Manchester City by just one solitary point.

“We see our development, we know what we do, we improve so much it’s unbelievable,” Klopp continues. “If there was a prize for the biggest development in the last 12 months then it’s going to the Reds, that’s how it is.

“The boys did a really amazing job, but we get that it’s about winning competitions, so for us we want to win the competition and if not then be as close as possible. That’s pretty much, apart from winning, the best thing that can happen – be as close as possible because that makes things rather reachable than unreachable – that’s very important.

“And, now we go again to the final. You cannot come closer to winning a final, so that’s what we have to do now. I’m not surprised that the boys bounced back again. If you asked me, ‘Did you think we would get 97 points?’ I would have to say no, but I was convinced we would play a good season and so we will next season.

“How good depends - unfortunately in football - on the other teams as well because they can improve, they can play. We had luck in a few moments, we all know that, we were unlucky in other moments – that’s a season and in the end it was 97 points.

“That’s big but it’s over and now we have to not think about it. There will come a moment where we have to start thinking about what we can do next year [in the league].”

[embedded content]

As Klopp references, before that begins Liverpool’s sole focus is on the showdown with Spurs on Saturday.

The Reds’ journey to Estadio Metropolitano has, once again, been eventful.

Three wins at Anfield and three defeats on the road were recorded in a tricky group consisting of Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade. But then Bayern Munich, FC Porto and, most recently, Barcelona were dispatched in the knockout rounds.

A common theme running throughout all 12 matches so far has been the sights and sounds of Liverpool supporters making themselves heard throughout Europe. Giving the team their unequivocal backing, just as they will in Madrid this weekend.

“It’s not a cliché and I feel a bit embarrassed that I have to say because it’s so obvious,” Klopp asserts, when asked whether Kopites have been just as much a part of the road to Madrid as his players.

“It’s so obvious that we are a unit but since I [came] in what happened to all of us, how many nice moments we have had in football. I don’t like to talk about these things too much now because we play in the Champions League final and we are really in a preparing mood and things like that, but it’s at the end of the season so obviously we have to speak a little bit.

“We have had a real summary of fantastic moments together, outstanding moments. Not only home games - but especially home games, of course - we have had some sensational away games.

“I loved Bayern Munich away, it was mature, it was football, tactical on the highest level, so many good, good things really and I am really thankful for that.

“It’s actually I think what we have to deliver for all of our people out there, this excitement that everybody wants and wants to be involved in. You want to think about the games, you want to see the games and that’s so special. We are not the only club who have had moments like this obviously, but it’s not important [to us] what other clubs have had.

“We have had it. We have enjoyed it a lot. That’s really cool.”

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Big interview | Jürgen Klopp: I'm so proud - but now is not the time to feel it

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 07:00
“I don’t know exactly how it works but obviously it works and it’s just nice to be part of.”
Categories: LFC NEWS

Origi ready for any role in CL final

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 06:00
By Alex Marrow

Last Updated: 30/05/19 11:26am

0:36 Divock Origi says he is ready to play in any role for Liverpool in Saturday's Champions League final, saying the team are more talented now than ever Divock Origi says he is ready to play in any role for Liverpool in Saturday's Champions League final, saying the team are more talented now than ever

Divock Origi says he is ready for whichever role Jurgen Klopp chooses in Saturday’s Champions League final, as Liverpool aim to win the competition for a sixth time.

The Belgian forward has become an unlikely hero for the Reds this season, with crucial goals over Everton and Newcastle in the Premier League, as well as two in the remarkable semi-final win over Barcelona.

Usually limited to substitute appearances for the most part, Origi said he is ready to step in should Roberto Firmino not be fit enough to feature.

"I'm ready to play whatever role the coach wants me to play," Origi told Sky Sports News. "Everyone is excited for this final and personally, I'll be as fit and as ready mentally as possible to do whatever I can do."

Liverpool reached last season's Champions League final, losing 3-1 to Real Madrid in Kiev, but Origi said the team is better in a number of ways this year.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final last year Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final last year Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final last year

"We've made a lot of steps as a team, when you look at a couple of years ago.

"There is now more experience, more stability, more unity, more talent, so we're using all these things and in the future it's just about focusing on doing the right things."

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham stand in Liverpool's way, and with Klopp's side having finished 26 points ahead of Spurs and beaten them twice in the league this season, the favourites tag is something Origi and his team-mates have to live with.

But the 24-year-old said Liverpool fans are always expectant and that not letting the occasion get to them is the most important thing.

"In a big club like Liverpool there is always going to be big expectations," said Origi. "But as a professional you have to close that off, it's important to stay focused on the right things.

"I've experienced finals like these from the outside.

0:41 Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson react to the flags and banners adorning Liverpool's streets ahead of the Champions League final in Madrid Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson react to the flags and banners adorning Liverpool's streets ahead of the Champions League final in Madrid

"There are a lot of talks going on, which make it good for a final, but it's something as a player you need to cut yourself off from."

Should Origi once again prove to be Liverpool's match winner, he may well earn himself a new contract, with his current deal expiring in 2020.

But the forward was cagey on whether anything was in the pipeline at this stage.

"That's a good question for the coach or the club," Origi said.

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European Royalty back where it belongsKey Stats As Liverpool Beat Wolves...But Finish...

Anfield Index.com - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 00:45

Pack your bags, we’re going to Madrid. It’s the biggest stage of all in club football, and the Reds will be hoping they can go one better than last year in Kiev. A place in Liverpool folklore waits for the current squad.

This year’s UEFA Champions League road to the final in Madrid has proven that Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are back where they belong. Not just another English side making up the numbers in Europe, but one of the most feared forces in club football.

With Firmino, Mane and Salah running the line, Liverpool are one of European football’s most potent threats. This season has seen the addition of balance to Liverpool’s play. With Alisson and Fabinho adding invaluable Champions League experience, Klopp’s side doesn’t look out of place.

After the heartbreak in Kiev last season, there is perhaps an added sense of anticipation heading over to Madrid. This is it. This could quite possibly be the best opportunity the Reds will have to add to their illustrious European Cup history.

It’s two final losses in a row since the Miracle of Istanbul. The Reds failed to defeat AC Milan for a second time in three seasons, losing 2-1 in Athens. Nobody needs reminding of Kiev. But, if there is one thing to take from last season, it is that cup finals are an anomaly.

Spurs are a terrific side, and what Pochettino has done at the club is impressive. But if you were to offer a Champions League Final against Spurs to Liverpool fans at the start of the campaign, nearly all of them would have taken it. It’s a golden chance for Liverpool to get that much-awaited sixth European title that has ghosted them since 2005.

Klopp has, ever since his first day in charge at Anfield, spoken of emotion in football. Liverpool are a club steeped in glorious tradition, and with that comes a responsibility to provide magical moments to a fan base accustomed to footballing brilliance.

If any Champions League season was to encapsulate such magic, it would have to be this campaign.

The magical nights under the Anfield lights. The Anfield roar when the players walk out of the tunnel. Everything about Anfield makes it a magical place on Champions League matchday, and very few places in world football can rival it.

Indeed, the 4-0 comeback in the semi-final against Barcelona was one of the best Champions League comebacks of all time. The belief within the squad makes this Liverpool side more or less impossible to rule out. Overturning a 3-0 deficit against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona shows that this is where Klopp’s team belongs.

The entire campaign has been one built on magic and belief. It looked at one stage that the Reds might fail to emerge from the group stages, they overcame that. It looked like a trip to Munich in the last 16 would see Liverpool eliminated, they overcame that too.

This campaign feels different to last year’s final. The Reds have been far more balanced in attack and defence, they look more assured. The confidence of the squad runs right from Alisson, all the way up to Salah. If anyone is feeling nervous ahead of the biggest game in club football, it won’t be the players.

The belief that Klopp has installed in his players over the last few years have been clearly shown this season. Wins over PSG, Bayern Munich, and of course Barcelona, were all built on a never-say-die attitude.

Such a belief seeped into the Anfield stands, and beyond. You only have to look as far as Jamie Webster’s BOSS Night shows in Barcelona and Munich to see how much this run has meant to the fans. Even Reds legend Jamie Carragher joined Webster on stage for a tribute to Virgil.

This is a European journey that has grabbed the attention of European giants, and Liverpool are back where they belong alongside them.

If there is one thing to remember before 8PM on Saturday, it is that nothing will faze this group of players.

The fact Liverpool go into this game against a side who finished 26 points behind them in the league will not distract them. A sixth European title is there for the taking.

After heartbreak in 2007 and 2018, it could well be third time lucky.

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Kane’s fitness, ‘bottlers’ & key battles – The view from Spurs ahead of Champions League final

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 18:00

Liverpool and Tottenham are on the verge of meeting in the Champions League final—we spoke to two Spurs fans to get their thoughts ahead of the game.

One of the biggest nights in either club’s history of almost upon us, as the Premier League pair meet in Madrid.

The Reds have enjoyed a memorable journey to the final, encapsulated by the unforgettable turnaround against Barcelona in the semi-finals.

Spurs have experienced their own drama, too, knocking out Ajax in stunning fashion in the last four, after seeming closer to elimination from the group stage at one point.

Ahead of the final on Saturday, we spoke to Spurs regular George Lacey (@GeorgeLacey_) and talkSPORT presenter Russ Williams (@Russw777) to get their thoughts on a huge night in Madrid.

It’s Champions League final time! How are Tottenham shaping up ahead of the game, in terms of form and fitness?

 Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

GL: Every time I read that we’re in the final, my heart sinks again. It’s unimaginable but we just have to believe and give it everything.

The fitness of the two Harrys has been a real sweat, but it looks as though both Winks and Kane will at least feature on Saturday and that is a massive boost.

For Kane at least, I think he’d have played with both legs tied together given the determination he’s shown to make himself available.

He will do everything possible for the cause.

Aside from those two, it looks like we will be at full strength and the dilemma for Mauricio Pochettino is if he sticks or twists with his semi-final heroes and in particular, Lucas Moura.

 Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura celebrates scoring the first equalising goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His super hat-trick got us to the final but someone would have to miss out for Kane if he was to start in Madrid.

RW: They probably needed the rest more than Liverpool, as they looked very tired in the final couple of months of the Premier League season.

Fitness will not be a problem, though.

Pochettino is a stickler for hard training, but he will know that form is a worry and will be trying to instil absolute belief into his players.

Is this the biggest game in the club’s history? Any that rival it?

 Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

GL: I don’t think there’s a debate over the magnitude of this one.

It really is Tottenham‘s biggest-ever fixture, and even Bill Nicholson’s legendary double-winning side of 1961 would have to make way if the current crop do the unthinkable against Liverpool.

The glittering early 1960s, an era when Spurs became the first British side to win a European trophy, is still fondly spoken about, but nothing would match a Champions League triumph in my eyes.

What an opportunity to realise that dream.

RW: Yes, without question, certainly in the club’s recent history at the very least.

This is the biggest game and challenge that they have been involved in.

What has been the highlight of Spurs’ Champions League run this season?

Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham (PA Images)

GL: Spurs were totally written off during the group stages and rightly so.

With one point from a possible nine, it looked like mission impossible but after scraping through we rolled the sleeves up and gave Borussia Dortmund a reality check at Wembley.

Since then, after stuttering into the last 16, two men have really come to fore.

Son Heung-min’s deadly finishing against Man City in a thriller at the Etihad took some beating but step forward Moura.

Just three weeks later, after losing the first leg 1-0 to Ajax in London, Spurs needed a hero in Amsterdam.

With the game all but decided and Tottenham‘s time running out, the little Brazilian took the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring two great goals before an epic last-gasp winner propelled his name to legendary status.

A hat-trick in a Champions League semi-final sent us to Madrid in unthinkable fashion. That, for me, was the highlight…so far.

Pep Guardiola crying (Mike Egerton/PA Wire)

RW: Seeing off City—a club that is set up to win a Champions League.

Liverpool did it last season, too, so City have a bit of work to do in that respect!

The 0-0 at the Nou Camp and the magical 35 minutes in Amsterdam also stand out as memorable moments during the season.

Have any players been particularly good during the European campaign?

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Jan Vertonghen during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

GL: The aforementioned duo of Son and Moura have been outstanding in the previous two rounds but honourable mentions must go to Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen.

They were both superb in the wins against Dortmund, in both the home and away legs.

Lloris had come under scrutiny this season but reminded us all why he’s still up there with the best.

RW: Vertonghen has been superb at centre-back, even though he has even played with distinction at left-back on occasions.

Moura also stands out for obvious reasons, while Christian Eriksen deserves a mention for keeping the team ticking over in difficult games.

And what about Liverpool – are they worthy finalists? What has impressed you most?

 Liverpool players celebrate after the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0 (4-3 on aggregate). Mohamed Salah, manager Jürgen Klopp, Virgil van Dijk, James Milner. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

GL: Liverpool amassed 97 points and didn’t win the Premier League.

That’s ridiculous, but also shows what a side they have developed into under Jurgen Klopp.

The signing of Virgil Van Dijk now looks like the best piece of transfer business we’ll see in a while and the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are often brilliant.

They will take some stopping in Madrid—I worry about their blistering pace.

They are most certainly deserving of a place in the final and the 4-0 second-leg win against Barcelona was sensational.

It really does have the ingredients to be a special game of football given the recent heroics of both sides in Europe.

 Liverpool's Alberto Moreno (L) and Mohamed Salah during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

RW: Oh yes, very much so. To do it two years in succession is an amazing effort.

I have been really taken by how they have brought their Premier League style of play into European football. Teams simply can’t cope with it, as Barcelona found out.

Liverpool have been magnificent in this tournament once again.

What do you make of the ‘bottler’ talk that follows Klopp and Pochettino around? Will the loser have failed?

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and Tottenham Hotspur's manager Mauricio Pochettino before the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)

GL: It’s really laughable, isn’t it?

Both managers have taken their respective clubs up a fair few levels, and while Klopp has brought such dynamism and attacking flair to Liverpool, Pochettino has progressed on a shoestring budget, achieving yet another top-four finish.

Both managers find themselves fighting for Champions League glory and both have been a credit to the Premier League since their arrivals.

What an advert it will be for them both and, despite the result, it will be a celebration of how far both teams have come under the tutelage of their managers.

In any other given season, Liverpool would be crowned Premier League champions and could still win the Champions League too.

That’s phenomenal, and Klopp will remain a hero in Liverpool fans’ hearts long after the final, I’d suspect.

Who do you fear most going into the game for the Reds?

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match between FC Porto and Liverpool FC at Estádio do Dragão. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

GL: It has to be Salah.

Most thought last season was a fluke and after a slow start to this campaign it looked like it may have been, but he shut up the critics.

He has been a revelation after falling short during his time at Chelsea—54 league goals in 74 games for a wide man is a fantastic return and his pace and directness will surely be key to Liverpool’s hopes in Madrid.

RW: The front three all carry a threat, obviously, especially Mane. He has a bit of magic in his boots and can score from anywhere.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson will take some tethering too—both have been outstanding this season.

And where do you see the key battles taking place?

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Wembley Stadium, London.

GL: I get the feeling Danny Rose vs. Salah could be a super battle.

The aggressive and dynamic nature of the way Rose asserts himself could be the catalyst to thwarting the Egyptian superstar.

If Kane gets the nod, an obvious clash of the titans will involve him and Van Dijk, both of whom have both proven to be the best around in their positions.

RW: Midfield is where this will be won or lost, in my opinion.

Whoever can defend well and then get the ball to their front players quickest will almost certainly win it.

I expect both to set up in a 4-3-3 formation.

Finally, who will be crowned champions of Europe come Saturday night?

 The European Cup trophy arrives before the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC at the Camp Nou. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

GL: The dreaded question.

I’ve tried to remain positive since the Ajax game, and after that, how can I bet against this Tottenham side?

I’m going to put my neck on the line and say Spurs to nick it 2-1.

RW: The bookies say Liverpool but it’s a game that features two teams who just don’t give up.

Both teams to score and Spurs to win it late on again.

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Reds target to leave & Klopp on Shaqiri’s playing time – Wednesday’s Liverpool FC News Roundup

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 16:30

We round up the latest Liverpool news and transfer rumours on Wednesday, as the Champions League final edges ever closer.

Today’s Main Headlines West Ham Confirm Adrian Exit

Adrian will leave West Ham on a free transfer this summer after six years at the club, the club have confirmed.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper has been linked with a move to Liverpool, with Simon Mignolet set to move on at the end of the season.

Adrian’s West Ham contract expires on June 30, as does former Reds striker Andy Carroll’s, who will also depart the Hammers.

It is a move that would make sense for Liverpool should it come to fruition, giving Alisson a solid new backup at Anfield.

Adrian is at a stage in his career where he will likely be content being second choice at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Derby Not Expecting Another Wilson Deal

Harry Wilson of Derby County during the Pre Season Friendly match at the Pride Park Stadium, (James Wilson/Sportimage via PA Images)

Harry Wilson‘s season-long loan move at Derby County ended in heartbreak on Monday, following the Rams’ 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa in the Championship playoff final.

Talk has inevitably turned to the Welshman’s future, with Liverpool potentially keeping hold of him but a summer exit more likely.

According to Sky Sports’ Rob Dorsett on Twitter, Wilson is unlikely to be retained by Derby on a permanent basis, with both he and Mason Mount returning to Liverpool and Chelsea respectively.

A “move elsewhere” is mooted, with the Reds thought to be holding out for £25 million for Wilson’s services.

While there is no doubting the 22-year-old’s talent, there is a feeling that he is not quite up to the required standards to be a regular in Jurgen Klopp‘s squad.

We have debunked one of the latest stories surrounding Wilson’s future here.

Alisson’s “Sadness” For Karius

 Liverpool's new signing goalkeeper Alisson Becker is replaced by substitute goalkeeper Loris Karius during the preseason friendly match between Liverpool FC and Torino FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As Liverpool approach another Champions League final, it is hard not to be reminded of Loris Karius‘ calamitous showing in last season’s clash with Real Madrid.

Alisson has come in and been a noticeable upgrade on the German and supporters will be confident he can avoid his predecessor’s nightmare when the Reds face Tottenham on Saturday night.

Speaking to Globo Esporte, he admitted it was tough watching a fellow goalkeeper suffer:

“We get sad when a colleague has a moment like this, especially in the Champions League final.

“It’s something that marks the player’s career, but we have to go around it, know how to deal with the mistake no matter when it happens.

“It’s inherent in the profession. The goalkeepers are more marked because, when an error occurs, 99 percent of the time ends in a goal and can decide a match, a championship.

“It sure gives a feeling of sadness, because we know how much we work and dedicate to make things happen in the best way.

But Alisson added that he doesn’t believe the errors led to Liverpool signing him from Roma:

“As far as I know, Liverpool already had an interest in the season I made. It was already in their plans to go after another goalkeeper. I don’t know if it was a turning point or not.

“I can say that I made the right choice and that today I am in the Champions League final and having one of the biggest campaigns of Liverpool in the Premier League, having almost won the title, very close to City.”

Karius’ Message to Klopp

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and goalkeeper Loris Karius after the FA Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool, the 231st Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This can’t be the easiest of weeks for Karius, as he is likely reminded of his aforementioned night to forget in Kyiv.

Liverpool’s on-loan ‘keeper has showed his class, however, with Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach John Achterberg telling the Times that the German messaged him and Klopp after the unforgettable 4-0 win over Barcelona:

“Loris texted Jurgen and myself when we reached the final.

“He said he was happy for us and hopes we now win. I think that says a lot about him.”

It is a lovely gesture that not all players would have been thoughtful enough to do, once again outlining the quality of character Klopp has signed during his time at Anfield.

Karius is on loan at Besiktas currently, where he may remain for another year after steadily becoming a key man for the Turkish giants.

Klopp Acknowledges Shaqiri’s Lack of Game Time

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp prepares to bring on substitute Xherdan Shaqiri during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Cardiff City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s charismatic personality is part of what makes him one of football’s most recognisable figures and a new video has perfectly highlighted his sense of humour.

In a clip released by Viasport, the Liverpool manager is shown photos of the current Reds squad as children, discussing them at the same time.

When it comes to Xherdan Shaqiri, Klopp gave an honest assessment of the Swiss, lauding his quality but also touching upon his lack of playing time this season.

“What a wonderful player, what a wonderful ambassador for his country. I’m really happy to have him around,” Klopp said.

“I know people think I didn’t play him around often enough.He thinks probably the same.

“But what an important player for us all the season.”

Recent rumours have suggested West Ham may be eyeing up a summer move for Shaqiri, following a frustrating campaign for the Reds.

An increasing lack of minutes have come his way and it will be interesting to see if anything develops in the coming weeks.

Coach Discusses Liverpool’s “Insanely Ambitious” Goal

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (C) with first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders (L) and assistant manager Peter Krawietz (R) during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Peter Krawietz is a vital part of Klopp’s backroom team, having worked with the Liverpool boss since his Mainz days in the early part of the century.

The Reds’ assistant manager has spoken to Goal about the team’s “insanely ambitious” attempt to win the Premier League up against Man City, also insisting they are focusing on long-term success just as much:

“Much more important is always the entire work. We do not just focus on the championship, we want to initiate long-term development and improvement.

“Against this background, the championship is undoubtedly a goal and our maximum desire.

“We know, however, that Liverpool will probably not be the financially strongest force in England in the next few seasons.

“Therefore, this remains an insanely ambitious goal. We will keep trying.

“However, the fact that squad quality and depth are a major factor in this cannot be ignored.”

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Tottenham confirm 26-man squad travelling to Madrid for Champions League final

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 15:56

Tottenham have confirmed the 26-man squad heading to Madrid on Wednesday, as they prepare to take on Liverpool in the Champions League final.

The Reds will meet a familiar foe at the Wanda Metropolitano after Spurs booked their place in the final via an away-goal victory over Ajax in the semis.

They did so without leading goalscorer Harry Kane, with Lucas Moura the hero in Amsterdam, but the England captain has been passed fit to fly to Spain following an ankle injury.

Kane and Moura are among 26 players named by Mauricio Pochettino on Wednesday, with Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez and Harry Winks also appearing to have recovered from various issues.

Goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman and midfielders George Marsh and Oliver Skipp make the cut from Spurs’ academy, with both sides able to name 12 players on their substitutes’ bench.

Ben Davies also travels despite being left out of the Wales squad for next month’s Euro qualifiers against Croatia and Hungary due to an upcoming hernia surgery.

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There are no other surprises in Tottenham‘s squad, with Jurgen Klopp predicting “a more lively final than we witnessed in the past” due to a 20-day break between games.

“For Tottenham it was for sure good, a lot of injuries [to rehab], but we had as well with Bobby especially, he could use the time between his injury and the final,” he explained on Tuesday.

“Keep the rhythm, do the right things in training—we do that a lot, even in pre-season.

“We had a game last Saturday, an internal game, just to keep the rhythm, do different things, and it was good, it was fine.

“But in the end, a final, with the things we did, we and Tottenham, we’ll all be fresher than three weeks ago on the last matchday.”

Tottenham Squad for Champions League Final

 Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goalkeepers: Lloris, Vorm, Gazzaniga, Whiteman

Defenders: Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Foyth, Rose, Aurier, Trippier, Davies, Walker-Peters

Midfielders: Eriksen, Sissoko, Alli, Dier, Wanyama, Winks, Skipp, Marsh

Forwards: Kane, Son, Moura, Llorente, Lamela

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