Steve McManaman (double and triple checking that I got the right number of M’s, N’s, and A’s, and in the right order) knows a thing or two about Liverpool, Real Madrid, and winning the Champions League.
McManaman made a contentious switch to Real Madrid during their last renaissance, when they won 3 Champions League titles in 5 years from 1998 to 2002. McManaman helped win two of those trophies in 2000 and 2002. And according to the former Liverpool and Real Madrid player, Saturday’s clash is setting up to be a great one.
“No disrespect to any of the other European clubs but we’re talking about two of the most famous clubs in the history of football,” McManaman said to The Echo in an interview.
“If at the start of the season you could have picked what two teams you’d like to see in the Champions League final, apart from facing another Premier League club, Liverpool v Real Madrid would have been it.
“They both like to go forward and score goals. And they both tend to take chances defensively and concede a few too.”
Although widespread arrogance has been reported by the Spanish press, McManaman tells a different story, of a Real side that knows they can be hurt by Klopp’s Reds. Further, in his opinion, Liverpool should be slight favorites when things get underway in Kiev.
“I still speak to people at Real all the time.”
“I think they are scared of Liverpool and the amount of goals they have been scoring. Nobody can stop them when they go on a real burst in a game and blitz teams like we saw against Man City and Roma.
“The good thing for Real Madrid is that they don’t have to come to Anfield where Liverpool have been so dominant. This is a one-off game at a neutral venue but Liverpool fans will still take over most of the stadium.
“On performances this season I’d make Liverpool slight favourites. Real have the history and the experience. They have been there and done it before so that’s why they have been made favourites.
“It’s not because of what they’ve done on the pitch as against Juve and Bayern they struggled to be honest. Liverpool were far more impressive in the quarter-final and semi-final stages.”
Obviously no ground-breaking revelations from McManaman, and obviously playing heavily to the pro-Liverpool, and pro-England contingent (the Venn diagram is basically two separate circles).
However, he’s not wrong in playing up the history and importance of these two sides, and how big of an occasion it will be. In two days, the time for talk will be over. For now, the pundits reign supreme.