Jurgen Klopp revealed he is unable to summon the same “anger” he felt at Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat three years ago as he rejected suggestions his side are on a revenge mission against Real Madrid.
The LaLiga giants claimed a third successive crown in Europe’s elite club competition in May 2018 by beating the Reds 3-1 in the Kyiv showpiece, where Mohamed Salah suffered a shoulder injury following Sergio Ramos’ challenge.
While Klopp had strong emotions at the time, he was adamant those have died down as the teams prepare to meet for the first time since that tempestuous occasion at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium on Tuesday evening.
But with the Champions League the only silverware Liverpool can win in a season marred by mixed results and a spate of injuries, Klopp insisted there is plenty of incentive for his side ahead of the quarter-final first leg.
“My motivation is at the highest level because it’s the Champions League, we want to go into the next round, we play Real Madrid,” the Liverpool boss said.
‘This has nothing to do with 2018 but when I got the draw – because it’s the first time we played Real Madrid since then, of course I remembered the game.
‘I said after that game that if somebody asked me a week later or a month later if I would invite Sergio Ramos to my 60th birthday, then I would say no! I would think about it again.
“He’s a great footballer but I didn’t like what happened that night. It was a strange night for us but it’s long ago and I cannot get that feeling back, that anger or whatever, so I don’t even try.
“We are not on a revenge tour here. I don’t believe too much in revenge, but it would be nice to get through, because it would mean we are in the next round.”
Ramos will be conspicuous by his absence against Liverpool because of a calf injury he sustained on international duty last week but Klopp was nevertheless happy to confer the favourites tag on to Zinedine Zidane’s side.
Liverpool, though, go into the fixture with some confidence after beating Arsenal at the weekend – the Merseysiders’ third successive win in all competitions.
“Our team is built for these kind of games, when we face a football-playing side. That’s why we have a chance, absolutely,” he added.
“I heard outside that everybody says Real Madrid is favourite. Great! No problem at all with that. They are used to the role. If anybody knows how to win the Champions League, it’s Real Madrid.
“And we have no problem with the role of challenger. I’m not determined to show the world how good we are, I want to show our fans that we are still fighting. That’s much more important to me, to be honest.
“If people think because we don’t play so well that I am not a good manager, then I don’t like that but I don’t care. We had some problems, which you know about, but we want to get whatever is possible out of this season.”
After their 2018 final defeat to Real, Liverpool went one better 12 months later to claim their sixth European Cup, before Klopp ushered them to their first Premier League title last year.
Asked whether he would regret not taking over at Real at some point in his career, he replied: “If I had at the end of my career only three clubs, which would be Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, then it’s not too bad.
“Would I regret it if I never managed Real Madrid? I don’t think so.”