Liverpool can beat Real — Alonso

MADRID — Xabi Alonso believes Liverpool can beat Real Madrid and be European champion but only if it copes with the pressure of playing in a Champions League final.

Alonso won Europe’s premier tournament with Liverpool in 2005 and Real in 2014, having spent five years playing for both of this season’s finalists.

Real is no stranger to this stage of the competition. It has reached three of the last four Champions League finals and won them all, with Saturday’s showdown offering it the chance for a third consecutive triumph.

Liverpool, meanwhile, is without a single player to have experienced a match of this magnitude. Only their coach Jurgen Klopp has gone the distance in Europe, with Borussia Dortmund, which was beaten by Bayern Munich in 2013.

“They have to prepare for the game very well because Real Madrid have all the experience,” Alonso said.

“For all the Liverpool players it will be their first Champions League final. They have to deal with this emotional side which is almost as important as the football side.

“If they can get the right balance between the excitement and the motivation, that will be the right way to approach this final.”

Alonso thinks Liverpool will need to play “the perfect game” to cause an upset in Kiev but Klopp´s men have arguably Europe’s most dangerous attack in their favor.

Three of the four top scorers in this season’s Champions League belong to Liverpool, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino both on 10 and Sadio Mane on nine. Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo is out in front on 15.

“Whenever they have space, Real needs to control them,” Alonso said. “They are able to attack through the middle of the pitch, they can connect with short passes very well, they combine very well.

“They are definitely one of the biggest strengths of Liverpool at the moment.”

While Liverpool is gunning for its sixth European success, Real is chasing its 13th to move six clear of AC Milan in the all-time list of champions.

“They are making history, they are big and getting bigger,” Alonso said. “What they have achieved in the last few years is not only a big surprise, a few years back you would think it was absolutely impossible.

“Zidane has done so well to manage the team and make the players have great belief in what he does. He has my total respect and admiration.” — AFP