By Richard Martin
KIEV (Reuters) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said his side do not feel superior to Liverpool ahead of the Champions League final, where the Spaniards are targetting a remarkable third consecutive title and a record-extending 13th crown overall.
Liverpool are ranked joint third overall with five European Cups but have not been in a final since losing 2-1 to AC Milan in 2007, last winning the trophy in 2005 on penalties after a remarkable fightback against the same club.
The Spanish media have been billing the game as a potentially one-sided affair due to Madrid’s considerable experience in the tournament and their superior squad, featuring serial winners like Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric and the competition’s all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
Not a single member of Liverpool’s squad, meanwhile, has played in a Champions League final. Their coach Juergen Klopp reached the 2013 showpiece when in charge of Borussia Dortmund although his side were beaten 2-1 by Bayern Munich.
“It’s not like this and we know it. It’s another final and we have the same chance of winning it as they do,” Zidane told a news conference on Friday.
“It’s 50/50, like every final is. And we’re going to have to put on a huge display if we are to win. Inside the dressing room we don’t feel like we are favourites at all.”
Madrid thrashed Juventus 4-1 in last year’s final to become the first side to successfully defend the trophy since the competition was renamed the Champions League in 1992.
Victory over Juergen Klopp’s side in Kiev will see them become the first team since Bayern Munich in 1976 to win the competition three years in a row.
Real captain Ramos, who is hunting a fourth Champions League triumph since 2014, said his side have not lost any of their desire to keep winning Europe’s biggest prize despite their near-monopoly of the trophy in recent years.
“There’s no lack of motivation, we’re hungry and the fact we keep winning it is another reason to want to win it again. The fact we can make history is a unique privilege,” Ramos said.
“We have to treat tomorrow as if it’s our first Champions League final. We can’t look at the past, it’s inevitable, but we don’t like to. Being in the final is marvellous, we need to enjoy it.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)