O, to be playing in the Champions League final. Lacing up for the biggest event in club football is a dream scenario for every professional player. Some players just get a single taste of the festivities and some are good enough to return to the top of the competition repeatedly during their career. Liverpool showing up in the big final may be bit premature this season, given the thin squad Jürgen Klopp has managed but the German coach and the club’s owners will take every opportunity to invest this summer in the already outstanding progress of the team in hopes of returning again and again to the pinnacle.
It remains to be seen what Dejan Lovren’s Champions League future may bring but the Croatian defender is delighted that he and his two compatriots playing for Real Madrid will enter the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, buoyed by the fact that, no matter the result, Croatia can boast of their Champions League winners.
“I have been in touch with my Croatian international teammates Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, who play for Real Madrid,” said Lovren.
“It’s quite an amazing achievement for such a small country of not even four million people that almost every year we have a Croatian international player who can win the final. It’s great for us and for the nation.
“I’m sure the whole nation will be tuning in for the final. I would say more people will be on my side as I haven’t won it before and both these guys have won it the last few times!
“The country is proud of us and in the end we will see who will win it.”
The Croatian defender has been a divisive figure on the pitch for Liverpool. But since Virgil Van Dijk’s arrival in January, it’s been clear that Lovren has settled his game and grown more assured and confident next to the big Dutchman.
A large part of Lovren’s more disastrous mistakes on the pitch have been the result of over-confidence or desperation. Slide tackling into nowhere, leaving huge gaps and his teammates back-pedaling as the opposing player glides passed him. See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya.
But Lovren has been good for Liverpool over the course of the second half of the season. He’s been very good. And while the defense solidity is mostly down to the massive presence of Van Dijk, you have to say, the Croatian had earned his place in the side even before Joël Matip was ruled out of selection in April.
I don’t know why I always want to put out the good vibes for Lovren. Even when he was absolutely abysmal at times under Brendan Rodgers I could offer up an encouraging word about him. Somebody save me from myself.
“Reaching the final of the Champions League is a fantastic achievement for the club and also personally. We have grown as the competition has gone on and we know what we need to do to do well in this tournament,” Lovren said.
“Apart from the World Cup final, this is the biggest game you can play in and we are all really looking forward to it. It is something that everyone wants.
“I was dreaming of playing in the final and winning the tournament since I was a boy. Now we have the opportunity. We need to show our character again, show our skills and show the world that we can do it.”