John Cross: Liverpool's history will inspire them in Champions League Final

2018-05-25
Daily Mirror chief football reporter John Cross on why Liverpool's rich European history is proving an inspiration, not a burden.

History can often be a burden in football.

But it always feel different in the Champions League where it so often empowers clubs as they look to emulate their glorious past.

It certainly seems an inspirational force for Real Madrid as they chase a third straight European Cup, a feat not achieved since their glory days of the late 1950s when they won five in a row with Alfredo Di Stéfano and the rest.

In Madrid this week, that was all the players were talking about, the quest for more history and how their experience would give them the edge over Saturday’s opponents Liverpool.

But Liverpool also have a wonderful European pedigree, lifting the European Cup a remarkable five times and they remain English football’s most successful club in the competition.

That is some achievement when you consider Liverpool are up against the might of Manchester United and the rest.

There have been times this season when it has been Liverpool’s history which seems to have almost carried them through.

For example, when Jurgen Klopp’s men faced Manchester City in the quarter finals there was almost a sense of destiny about Liverpool as if this was their moment.

While the individual players have not enjoyed European success, the club’s aura gives them a sense of inner strength and belief.

It is something that is hard to grasp and yet knowing that Liverpool have this history seems to make the players run faster, try harder and believe that much more.

There is no fear among the Liverpool players as, throughout each department, they seem to rise to the occasion.

The front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and the irrepressible Mo Salah have been a match for all of their opponents this season with their pace, power and goals.

Liverpool have benefitted from the new world order in the Champions League as teams seem to have found success by playing all-out attacking football.

In the recent past, the emphasis was on good defending and, as defensive standards dropped in English football, Premier League teams went through a lean few years.

But Liverpool go out to attack and, while Real Madrid have obvious qualities and strengths, they will not fancy facing Mane, Salah and Firmino.

It may well be won in midfield where Real Madrid have such quality with Isco, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. World class performers who possibly have the edge over James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Of course Cristiano Ronaldo will be influential. He is the leading scorer in the Champions League and, no matter Real Madrid’s struggles, their big players always step forward for the big occasion.

That is what makes this such a fascinating, all-out attacking battle but no-one should think that Real Madrid’s quest to write their name into the record books will intimidate Liverpool.

After all, Klopp’s men have a history of their own and that inner belief has already carried them a long way this season, much further than anyone believed was possible.