Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists the club are back where they belong after a spell in the European wilderness.
The five-time winners of the European Cup will play in their first Champions League final since 2007 after successfully negotiating only their second campaign in UEFA’s premier club competition in the last eight years.
For Klopp that is validation enough that Liverpool have been restored to the Europe’s top table.
However, the manner in which they have dismantled teams this season—”big balls football” according to Klopp—is further evidence they are a force to be reckoned with and one defending champions Real Madrid will be wary of.
“I don’t think we need that moment [of victory] to restore it. I think it is obvious we are back,” said Klopp.
“To qualify for a final, it shows that you are back. To win it? You need a little bit of luck. But we are back, first and foremost.
“We really don’t need [the trophy] to show how good we are. We have shown how good we are.
“Even if you win, you cannot stop. If you lose, you cannot stop. I really like the way we are in as a club, as a team.
“That is most important. Not this week. In general, it is important that the club goes in the right direction. That is very positive.
“What I said to the boys before the semi-final [against Roma] was that I don’t think we are [here for] the last time.
“I didn’t want to take the pressure off them or whatever, I only think we are a club and a team next year that could, not will, but could be here again far in the competition.”
Klopp has the chance to become only the fourth manager in the club’s long history to win a European Cup, following in the hallowed footsteps of Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafael Benitez.
“That would be cool but, actually, I really didn’t think about it so far. It wouldn’t help. Unfortunately, we cannot ask most of them [for help] any more,” he added.
“I think it would be well deserved after a long period without big enjoyment. We do it for that and not so I could join a group of outstanding managers.”
To do that he will have to reverse his appalling record in finals which has seen him lose his last five, including in the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich.
“I know the pressure will come, that’s how it is but in this moment I only feel the opportunity,” he said. “I am really happy to be here.
“I have no clue how it will feel when I go to the next final. I lost the last five and then you think, ‘Oof really?’.
“The thing is maybe the history of this club shows you it is possible to win things. It’s not that you need to be the most special manager in the world.
“This club gives you the power, the players, the teams, that you can win from time to time big things.”
Real, seeking to become the first club to win the competition three years in succession, are favourites but Klopp has a confidence about his side—especially after seeing Los Blancos concede two goals against Villarreal last weekend.
“We know, of course, about the crazy quality, the experience,” he said.
“The Villarreal game was a show of confidence. They were 2-0 up and then they closed the game too early.
“But we are Liverpool. We are different. We have been different the whole campaign and we want to be different again in the final. We have a chance. That is all.”