Klopp tells Liverpool: ‘We can make history’

A smiling, happy Jurgen Klopp has been a familiar sight this season. (Getty Images)
Updated 25 May 2018
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Klopp tells Liverpool: ‘We can make history’

  • Blessed with an attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, a forward line to rival any in Europe, the Reds have played with a devil-may-care attitude.
  • Jordan Henderson: “They (the fans) have played a huge part in us getting this far in the competition. Hopefully, they can create an atmosphere similar to Anfield because it has made a big difference.”

LONDON: Positivity and passion carried Liverpool to today’s Champions League final, and that is what will give them victory against Real Madrid in Kiev. That is the message Reds boss Jurgen Klopp delivered to his players ahead of the showdown with the Spanish giants.
Klopp and Co. head into the clash as marginal underdogs, with Real aiming for their third Champions League crown in as many years. But with nobody backing Liverpool to make the final when the competition started nine months ago, the tag is is not something that has bothered them so far.
Blessed with an attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, a forward line to rival any in Europe, the Reds have played with a devil-may-care attitude, and Klopp wants his side to forget about the occasion and attack the match as they have done every other Champions League tie.
“We are really fine in our position, with our tools. We don’t want to think about what other clubs have,” the Liverpool boss said.
“We did it our way, and we want to do it our way again — and we will see what it leads to.
“Nine months ago we were already a good football team. Maybe a few of us dreamt of being in the final, but only because of the performances we put in in different games. That created a special spirit. That’s our biggest strength, for sure.”
Jordan Henderson — Klopp’s main man on the pitch, the engine of the team and the man who makes the team tick — while acknowledging the Reds are up against a formidable side in Real, preached the same positive message as his boss.
“We are prepared for anything and everything. Real are a fantastic team, but we can hurt Madrid if we perform to the levels we are capable of reaching,” the Liverpool captain said.
“Anything can happen in a Champions League final. It’s about us creating history. We’ve done well to get to this point, but we want to go one step forward.”
If Champions League trophies were won on positive thinking alone, Liverpool are certainties to beat Real Madrid. Both Klopp and Henderson looked quietly confident and relaxed ahead of the biggest match of their lives. Positivity has propelled them to the showdown in Kiev, and there is no desire to change now.
The passion and free-scoring spirit that has characterized the Reds’ march to the final has been matched in the stands. Anfield has been a daunting place for opposition teams, with the 3-0 win over Manchester City in the quarterfinals notable for its intense, hostile atmosphere. And Henderson has called on the Liverpool fans to recreate the passion of home and intimidate Real.
“As we have said before, the fans are a massive part of the club,” he said. “They have played a huge part in us getting this far in the competition. Hopefully, they can create an atmosphere similar to Anfield because it has made a big difference.”
Standing in the way of a sixth European Cup for Liverpool is Real, who again have saved their best performances for Europe while faltering at home.
Attempting to become the first side since 1976 to win three on the bounce, Zinedine Zidane’s side head into the final with a wealth of experience. Cristiano Ronaldo is the side’s spearhead, with Gareth Bale coming into form at just the right time and likely to start tonight.
Klopp is well aware of the defending champions’ combination of excellence and experience, but remains undaunted.
“We have unbelievable quality on our bench, but nobody has the same quality as Madrid,” the German said. “Whoever they have on the bench, they are really quality players.
“Experience is very important. A second before the game, Real will be more confident than we are, but it doesn’t matter because the game isn’t decided in that second. Real are really strong, but they’ve never played us.”
There seems to be an inner belief within the Liverpool side that is both seductive and refreshing. And that, as much as anything else, is why Klopp is a confident man.
“This club has it in its DNA to win big things. We are here because we are Liverpool,” he said.


Big-name stars have stands packed as records fall in new Saudi Pro League season

Updated 7 min 42 sec ago
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Big-name stars have stands packed as records fall in new Saudi Pro League season

LONDON: Saudi Arabian officials are delighted with the record-breaking attendances that have been the hallmark of the first few rounds of this season’s Saudi Pro League.
Round three of the current campaign saw the highest number of fans attend games since official records were kept. A total of 102,509 fans went to stadiums up and down the country as defending champions Al-Hilal maintained their perfect start to remain top of the table.
This was in contrast to a total of 19,341 who watched games at the same stage last season and 20,361 from the 2016-17 campaign. 
The latest figures confirm an encouraging overall upward trend. So far in the three rounds already played, the total attendance has already reached 249,018. In the 2017-18 season overall, just over one million passed through the turnstiles. During the summer, the General Sports Authority, the body which oversees all sports in the country, set an ambitious target of three million fans for the new season.
“The season has started as well as we could have hoped for in terms of fans coming to games and we have seen increases of over 500 percent from last season and the season before that,” an official from the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) told Arab News.
“Clubs have been working hard to try and engage with fans and while there have been some free tickets handed out, the standard of football that fans are watching is better than before. We know that we have to keep working hard but it is a great start.”
So far the action has been entertaining and the 100,000 plus fans saw 29 goals in just eight games, with all but eight scored by overseas stars. Many of the big-name signings made by the big clubs have hit the ground running.
Ahmed Musa went to Al-Nassr for a league record fee of around €16 million ($19 million) from Leicester City in the English Premier League. The Nigerian scored a hat-trick at Al-Quadisiya to maintain his team’s unbeaten record. Al-Hilal’s Bafetimbi Gomis and Omar Abdulrahman are other expensive stars who are already producing the goods while Argentina’s Cristian Guanca, who plays for Al-Ettifaq, tops the scoring charts with four goals.
 “The standard of many of the foreign players who came before the season has been better than ever before,” added the official.
“Some of them are already showing the kind of talent they have and have settled in quickly. Others will take more time so as the season goes on then we should see this level continue.”
SAFF administrators believe that this Saudi Arabia’s World Cup campaign — which ended with a victory over Egypt , the Green Falcons’ first win at the competition since 2006 — has helped with the feel-good factor. Allowing women to enter stadiums to watch games is another reason why there have been increased attendances.
The biggest crowd of the weekend was recorded in Jeddah when 41,000 fans turned up to watch Al-Ahli defeat Al-Hazm 2-0. The club provided 10,000 tickets free of charge but it was still an impressive turnout, with the raucous crowd making plenty of noise
Al-Ahli star Nooh Al-Mousa was delighted with the attendance and has called on fans to keep supporting the team in such numbers.
“It was great to see so many people come here to support us,” the midfielder said.
“The atmosphere was great and it really inspires the players. It not only increases our energy and enthusiasm, it also helps us get better results. We hope that the fans keep coming back as we will have a bright future together.”