Real Madrid downplays its Champions League experience
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid is entering Saturday’s Champions League final with the attitude that the past means nothing.
According to coach Zinedine Zidane, the fact that the Spanish giants are two-time defending champions, playing in their third straight final and have a chance to win a fourth title in five seasons will be totally irrelevant when they take on Liverpool in Kiev.
“We are prepared,” Zidane said Tuesday. “But not because we have more experience. That doesn’t mean anything. It’s another game. We have to go out and show that we want to win it.”
Madrid is also the most successful team in European Cup history with 12 titles and 15 finals. While many in Madrid’s squad have already won three Champions League titles, most in Liverpool’s team have never made it to a final.
The only Liverpool player with a Champions League trophy is Emre Can, who was with Bayern Munich — although he didn’t play much — when it won the European title in 2013.
“It doesn’t matter that we won it last year and that they haven’t made it to a final in 11 years,” Zidane said. “We will give all we have.”
Liverpool last played in the Champions League final in 2007, when it lost to AC Milan. It won its fifth — and most recent — European title in 2005, also against Milan.
“We’ve won the last two finals so it may seem something easy to do, but we know that it’s not,” said Madrid left back Marcelo, a three-time Champions League winner. “We know how hard it is to go through each training session and each game. It’s tough to make it to the final and we are determined to win it.”
Marcelo is one of the 12 Madrid players trying to win the competition for the fourth time. Cristiano Ronaldo can lift his fifth Champions League trophy, as he also won it with Manchester United in 2008.
“I love to play in this competition,” Ronaldo said. “You need to beat the best in the world to win it. You always have to be motivated.”
Zidane, who won a Champions League as a player with Madrid in 2002, doesn’t think Liverpool will be more motivated than Madrid because it hasn’t won the competition in a long time.
“We are incredibly motivated,” he said. “How can you say that we are not going to be as motivated as them? It doesn’t make sense. They will give all they have and so will we.”
Zidane said making it to the Champions League final was extra special this season because of their struggles in the Spanish league and Copa del Rey, competitions it failed to win.
“We played against the three best teams in Europe,” Zidane said, referring to the Champions League victories against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, Juventus in the quarterfinals and Bayern Munich in the semifinals. “There’s a lot of value in that after the difficulties that we faced throughout the season.”
Madrid can become the first team to win three straight Champions League titles in the tournament’s current format. It became the first to successfully defend its title last season.
“We always want more,” Zidane said.
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