Xabi Alonso will always be a Liverpool legend after scoring that third crucial goal to secure the Reds historic comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul. His heroics helped lead Liverpool to their fifth and most recent Champions League trophy, all the way back in 2005. Now the Reds are back in the final, and they’re up against Real Madrid, a team Alonso also won the Champions League with in 2014 — though he was ineligible for the final game.
So this man with split allegiances has a few words of wisdom for both sets of teams before they take to the pitch on Saturday.
For our inexperienced Liverpool squad, he said, “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.”
Pretty important advice for a squad with young players like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Loris Karius, and Andy Robertson who are about to play the biggest game of their entire careers. They’ve performed incredibly this season to make it this far, but a final is a whole different degree of pressure than they’ve experienced.
As for Real Madrid, his advice is the same that they’re likely getting from everyone: neutralize Liverpool’s front three.
“Whenever they have space, Real need to control them. 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 Alonso will refuse to pick sides for Saturday’s big match, let’s be honest: we all know he’s a Red.