Sadio Mane makes bold claim to warn Real Madrid over Champions League final

Sadio Mane was one of the stars of Liverpool's enthralling 7-6 aggregate win over Roma in the Champions League semis.
Updated 04 May 2018
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Sadio Mane makes bold claim to warn Real Madrid over Champions League final

  • Liverpool in bullish mood after beating Roma to make the Champions League final.
  • Mane claims Reds are so confident they think they can beat any team, not least Real Madrid.

Liverpool feel they can beat any team in the world at the moment and will play without fear in the Champions League final against 12-times winners Real Madrid later this month, winger Sadio Mane has warned.
The Spanish giants are chasing their third European title in four years, but Mane said Liverpool, who have scored a mammoth 40 goals in this year’s competition, were charged with confidence heading into the finale in Kiev on May 26, and were sure they will be the ones lifting the famous trophy.
“We honestly believe we can beat them,” the 26-year-old Senegalese striker said.
“I can say at this moment we do have a lot of respect for Madrid, they are one of the best teams in the world, but we are Liverpool — we are strong and we can beat any team in the world.
“We are going to go there and fight for the fans, for the club, fight without fear and win the final. We have the players. We can score goals, we have shown that and there is nothing to be afraid of for us.”
The Reds are, perhaps, surprise finalists. They were not one of the favorites at the start of the season and their defence is far from watertight. This campaign, however, has gone their way with sides such as Manchester City and Barcelona — both easy winners of their domestic leagues — falling by the wayside in the last eight. Added to that, this has seemingly been the season for high-scoring matches, meaning the dodgy defence has been more than negated by the free-scoring exploits of the exciting forward line of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
The Merseyside club won the
European Cup four times in their heyday of the 1970s and 1980s, but their memorable Champions League triumph over AC Milan in 2005 bucked a trend of underperformance by the Reds at the very highest level over the past couple of decades.
Dejan Lovren has called on his teammates to beat Real Madrid and get their hands on the trophy, if for no other better reason than to make sure Klopp’s efforts at Anfield get the reward he feels they deserve.
The Liverpool defender hailed his German boss for transforming the club and claims it is only right that Klopp lands his first piece of silverware as Reds boss.
Klopp’s side lost the final of the League Cup and Europa League in 2016, but Lovren reckons the manager has already forged a winning mentality at the club.
“He has changed many things in the club, not just the players but things around the club — people, he has changed the mentality, how we think,” the Croatian said.
“He deserves this.
“It is not accidental that he already reached the final of the Champions League in 2013 with Borussia Dortmund. He has given the club its pride back. Everyone should be proud that we have a manager like him.”
Real Madrid have been installed as slight favorites, and are bidding to become the first club to win three Champions League titles since Bayern Munich in 1976.


Van Dijk backs Salah to shine in Kiev showpiece

Updated 42 min 48 sec ago
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Van Dijk backs Salah to shine in Kiev showpiece

  • Virgil van Dijk: He (Mohamed Salah) is a nightmare for defenders, creating and scoring goals.”
  • Van Dijk: “To be calm, that is sometimes a very good thing to have, but personally sometimes I have to learn, too.”

LIVERPOOL: As Mohamed Salah prepares for a career-defining period, Virgil van Dijk is confident his Liverpool teammate’s star will only shine brighter on football’s biggest stages.
The Liverpool frontman will face-off with Ballon d’Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid tonight in the Champions League final before heading off to a debut World Cup with Egypt.
And having witnessed an incredible season that has brought 44 goals — a record 32 in the Premier League ­— for the Egyptian star, Reds defender van Dijk says he has the all-round ability to strike fear into the reigning European champions and international sides.
“He is a nightmare for defenders, creating and scoring goals,” said the Dutchman of the 25-year-old Salah. “It’s complete for him.
“He’s like everyone in our squad, laidback, calm, no big personalities and egos. We work hard for each other and just want to be better.
“I think he can definitely be the best in Europe, but there are two other players who are pretty good at the moment as well (in Ronaldo and Lionel Messi). I hope for Mo it happens because he deserves it. He is that kind of player to light up a World Cup as well.”
While all eyes will be on Salah and Ronaldo as potential match-winners in Kiev, van Dijk, 26, will have a major role on the defensive front.
The game will offer the center-back the chance to prove he was worth the £75 million ($100 million) it cost to sign him from Southampton in January.
“Any player who arrived at this club, they want to play in these games, they want to be under this kind of pressure, they want to get trophies,” he said.
“I don’t think I have been bought to win the Champions League final. I have been bought to hopefully get the best out of myself and the best out of the team with the help of everyone else.
“To be calm, that is sometimes a very good thing to have, but personally sometimes I have to learn, too.
“Against Manchester City in the away game (of the quarter final) I was a little bit too calm in the beginning, for example. That is something I have to learn as well. To be in the final right now, it has been a crazy journey.”
Watching last season’s final between Real and Juventus, van Dijk realized just how much he wanted to be a part of the competition — and why Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were the club for him, despite interest from City.
“I never really go to big games to watch as a fan, but I was in Cardiff,” he recalled. “The sponsors (Sony) hooked us up with two fantastic seats and it was two hours from where I used to live, so we thought, ‘let’s go.’
“From the moment I got there a lot of people in hospitality were Liverpool fans and they were saying, ‘join, please join.’