Klopp hoping to break curse in Champions League final as Spurs wait on Kane
Madrid (AFP) –
Jurgen Klopp refused to accept that luck had anything to do with him losing six straight finals as he leads Liverpool into Saturday's all-English Champions League decider against Tottenham Hotspur, who will make a late call on the fitness of Harry Kane.
Klopp has not come out on the winning side in a final since leading his brilliant Borussia Dortmund team to a German league and cup double in 2012. Since then there have been half a dozen disappointments, including the 2013 Champions League with Dortmund, the 2016 Europa League with Liverpool, and last season's Champions League.
"If I was the reason for losing six finals in a row, then everybody needs to worry really," Klopp joked as he spoke at the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, where Saturday's final will kick off at 1900 GMT in front of a huge contingent of travelling supporters from England.
Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in Kiev a year ago. Klopp was also out of luck in this season's Premier League, with his team losing just once and collecting 97 points, but still coming second to Manchester City.
However, their hopes of ending this season with a trophy are still alive after their stunning victory over Barcelona in the semi-finals, as they won 4-0 in the second leg to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit.
"I am probably at the moment a world-record holder, in the last seven years at least, in winning semi-finals, but if I wrote a book about that probably nobody would buy it," Klopp added.
"I'm a normal human being, and if I sat in a room and thought that it's all about me, I am the reason, if I saw myself as a loser or whatever, then that would be a problem. But I don't see it like this."
While last year Liverpool were the underdogs against a Real side who would go on to claim a third straight Champions League, this time they are the favourites.
They beat Spurs twice in the Premier League this season and have lost just one of their last 14 meetings with the north London side.
Full-back Andy Robertson stated the determination of the Liverpool squad to win a first trophy for their German manager since he arrived in October 2015.
"Since he came here, he has changed how the club is and we obviously want to try to repay him with a trophy. Squads before came close and just fell short," said the Scot.
Klopp confirmed that Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino, who has scored 16 goals this season, is fit after a groin injury kept him out of Liverpool's last three matches.
- Pochettino cautious -
Meanwhile, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino remained cautious on the fitness of star striker Kane as Spurs prepared for a historic first ever appearance in the final of this competition.
His team's leading scorer with 24 goals this season, Kane has not played since damaging ankle ligaments in the quarter-final first leg against Manchester City in early April.
"I don't know. We have one training session left and then we are ready to decide," said Pochettino before his team took to the pitch at the Metropolitano in the searing heat in the Spanish capital.
If Pochettino picks Kane, it would deliver a significant boost to Spurs but they have survived without him, with Lucas Moura taking them to Madrid with an incredible second-leg hat-trick that knocked out Ajax in the last round.
Before that they stunned Manchester City on away goals, and their remarkable run has come despite them not signing any new players in almost 18 months.
"To be here, with everything falling for us, it means the praise comes a lot and the team feels strong at the end of the season," said Pochettino.
Meanwhile, Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris is bidding to win the Champions League and World Cup within 10 months, after he triumphed with France in Russia last summer.
"It is a privilege to be part of these two teams," said the goalkeeper. "To win the World Cup with my country was a massive achievement but it couldn't be possible without the help of my teammates and it is the case again in this final.
? 2019 AFP