We’re hours out from the biggest game on the season. The players have all arrived in Madrid, along with the press and the punditry, and the supporters are there as well—and amongst them, more than a few famous former Reds.
Most noteworthy, perhaps, being Rafa Benitez, with the former manager and last man to lead Liverpool to European glory in Madrid for the Champions League final and of the belief that Liverpool’s experience should give them an edge.
“Liverpool have an advantage because they have done this before,” Benitez told The Liverpool Echo ahead of the match. “For Tottenham, this is the first time they have been in a massive final. I can see a little advantage for Liverpool.
“Still, Tottenham are so good that it will be a dangerous game. [But] I think it’s an advantage. When you are walking down that tunnel and out on to the pitch, you know what it means. Dealing with that pressure is easier if you have been there before.”
While a lot of fans may be nervous—maybe even more nervous than last season when Liverpool were underdogs in the Champions League final—it’s hard to imagine this current group of players being anything but confident.
Having been there before, and having shown they can handle the pressure of an intense title race, this is a group that has proven they can handle the pressure. They’re also a very, very talented group—one of the best teams in the world.
“I want to be very respectful about my team, but this team is much better,” Benitez noted of this current group of Liverpool finalists compared to the ones that pulled off a miracle in the 2005 final in Istanbul. “Not just the team, but the squad.
“What we achieved was good because to win against that AC Milan team was a massive achievement and the way in which we did it. Now Liverpool have a lot of good players. I think this is a stronger Liverpool.”