Sadio Mane harnessing Istanbul spirit ahead of Champions League final with Liverpool

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Sadio Mane is confident of victory as Liverpool head into the Champions League final, evoking the spirit of their last European Cup win in Istanbul.

Mane has hit top form ahead of the Reds’ biggest game since 2007, with his chemistry with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino giving Jurgen Klopp‘s side a strong chance against Real Madrid.

This will be the winger’s first appearance in a final, having missed Red Bull Salzburg’s 4-2 win over SKN St. Polten in the Austrian Cup in 2014 through suspension.

His experience, therefore, will come through watching tape, and there is no better example than Liverpool’s comeback victory over AC Milan in 2005.

Speaking in the buildup to the Reds’ trip to Kiev, Mane explained how he will harness the spirit of Istanbul as he plots to take his excellent form into the final:

“Everyone remembers this final because of the game. They were 3-0 down and back to 3-3. We’re going to try and do the same and win the game.

“Honestly when I was young my dream was to play in the Champions League. I watched a few finals.

“To have chance to play…I’m just going to enjoy it and get that trophy.

[…]

“I’m trying to do my best for the team and I’ll keep working hard to help.

“It’s a dream come true to play in the final. It’s massive. It’s going to be a tough game, we all know that.

“But we can beat any team in the world. We’re going to try and do our best and why not win it?”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 10, 2018: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (2nd left) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate sduring the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Firmino and Salah (both 10) are behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (15) in the goalscoring charts in this season’s Champions League, with their efforts key to Liverpool’s success.

For the Brazilian, in his first campaign in Europe’s top tier, this is particularly impressive, and speaking to Spanish publication Sport he showcased the same confidence as Mane:

“We know about Real Madrid. They are always winning titles in the Champions League and in the Spanish league too.

“I’ve never played against them, but I’ve watched their games and they’re very competitive.

“However, this is a final; a one-off game, a one-off moment.

“They’ll also be up against Liverpool—a team and a club with a great pedigree. We are going to fight until the end.”

With Zinedine Zidane boasting a fully fit squad heading into the final, Liverpool will need to be at their best to secure a sixth European Cup.

The performances of Mane, Firmino and Salah will be vital, and it’s clear that they will neither underestimate Real or show them too much respect as they bid to fire the Reds to the top.

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