Liverpool legends, heroes of Istanbul and footballing greats give their Champions League predictions

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Former Liverpool and Real Madrid star Xabi Alonso makes it 3-3 that night in Istanbul.

From Xabi Alonso, who won the Champions League with both clubs; to Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, two Liverpool legends and heroes of Istanbul in 2005; to the man who guided Liverpool to success on that historic night and managed both clubs, Rafael Benitez; to a Manchester United legend, Rio Ferdinand; and a manager whose team was knocked out by Liverpool in this season’s Champions League, Manchester City – Vance Machado has trolled the net far and wide to find out what Liverpool legends, heroes of Istanbul and other footballing great predicts for the Champions League Final.

Some of their answers will surprise you. Read on…

Xabi Alonso, Liverpool 2004-09, Real Madrid 2009-14: “The game is going to be lite. I played for both team and I won the Champions League with both. If you are asking me who will I support this weekend, well, I am just going to sit and watch the two teams plays, but I wish Liverpool all the best.”

Milan Baros, Liverpool 2002-05: “Yeah, the Liverpool squad is young and inexperienced for this game, it is the biggest game of their lives. The Madrid squad have wealth of experience. But I don’t wanna know who Madrid are starting, how their tactics are, how they want to handle the game. All I can see is Liverpool winning the trophy at the end of the day, That young squad is so hungry.”

Rafael Benitez, Liverpool manager 2004-10, Real Madrid manager 2015-16: “When the Champions League starts they (Liverpool) are not even in top 10 favourite teams to win it, and now they are creating history. I am 100% sure Liverpool will win it. Any team can beat Liverpool on any Cup finals, but don’t dare them on a Champions League night, they have this kind of spirit working with them in Champions League – both the players and fans. You can testify that in 2005.”

Jamie Carragher, Liverpool 1996-2013: I just hope the Trophy comes to England.

Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United 2002-14: “I don’t want Liverpool to win it, but am scared they might hurt Real Madrid.”

Sami Hyppia argues with Spanish referee Manuel Enrique Gonzalez in Istanbul

Sami Hyppia argues with Spanish referee Manuel Enrique Gonzalez in Istanbul

Steve Finnan, Liverpool 2003-08: I don’t know why people are seeing Liverpool has the underdogs. I see Real Madrid has the Underdogs

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool 1998-2015: “Before the Man City game, I said if we can survive Man City we are going  to bring the trophy home. We have already started the preparation to welcome the lads home.”

Pep Guardiola, Manchester City manager 2016-: “Liverpool are a great team and I have so much respect for Klopp and his team. I wish them the best of luck on Saturday.”

Thierry Henry, Arsenal 1999-2007: “If you prove you have a record or you are good at something, please don’t let Liverpool hear that, you will make them more angry.  You can see how many records they break this season. Liverpool are the first team to beat Man City, they are the only team to score at Rome, the are the only team to beat Porto at home this season and many more…”

Gerrard Houllier, Liverpool manager 1998-2004: “When we are talking about beautiful and absolute football, then we are talking about Liverpool.”

Sami Hyppia, Liverpool 1999-2009: I just can’t wait for that day, I hope Madrid back four are ready thunder because they are gonna Shake. Those 3 have been absolute this Season, I hope we can win it so that they can compliment their Effort.

Sadio Mane, Liverpool 2016-: “It is one of the more important games in our career. It will not be easy. They have experience and qualities for the team and we respect them a lot but also have the players to beat any team in the world. We will go to try and cause them as many problems as we can. We are not scared of them, let them bring it on.”‎

Roberto Martinez, Everton manager 2013-16: “Real Madrid are a good club and they are favourite for this trophy but when you watch this Klopp team play I am sure this will be the very big tough test for Zidane’s side‎.”

Javier Mascherano, Liverpool 2007-10: “Liverpool has shown that it was not a mistake they are here, and they are ready to prove that again in Kiev.”

Michael Owen, Liverpool 1996-2004, Real Madrid 2004-05: “If Liverpool wins the Champions League, no doubt Mo Salah deserves the Ballon D’Or‎.”

Vladimir Smicer, Liverpool 1999-2005: “I see Liverpool putting this game to bed at half-time maybe 3-0 or 2-0. They have shown they can do it. Against Porto HT 2-0, Man City HT 3-0, HT Roma 2-0. I don’t think Real Madrid can handle the pressure.”

Luis Suarez at Liverpool

Luis Suarez at Liverpool

Luis Suarez, Liverpool 2011-14: “(I) am sure Liverpool will disappoint Madrid, they have no regards for who you are, or how big you are.”

Matthew Upson, West Ham 2007-11: “Where the hell did Klopp get these three forwards from?”

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Jurgen Klopp speech led to Champions League finale, says Jordan Henderson

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Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson believes the seeds of their Champions League final appearance against Real Madrid were sown two years ago thanks to a rousing speech by Jurgen Klopp.

Immediately after one of the lowest points in his career, having watched the 2016 Europa League defeat to Sevilla as an unused substitute because he was not fully fit, the midfielder was inspired by his manager’s motivational words.

Klopp foretold there would be more finals to come, outlining his vision of where he wanted the club to go, and Henderson was hooked.

“We were obviously down but when we got back to the hotel the manager had something different to stay,” he said.

“He looked at the bigger picture and the future and he felt as though it could be a big moment in our careers to learn from the experience.

“He had this sort of vision that made me think in the future we’d get to another final.

“He wanted to use the experience of that final to keep us together and use it as a positive. If we got to another final we’d be ready.

“At that moment I sensed that he could see that he was confident about getting to another final.

“I can’t remember word-for-word but he had something about him that felt it was the start of something, something he felt he could take forward and definitely get the team to another final.

“I definitely remember that night. I think you can see how he has taken the team forward since then has been fantastic.”

Liverpool this season have played some sensational football and their position as the top scorers in the Champions League with 40 goals is testament to that.

Their place in the final may have surprised many but Henderson believes it is indicative of the mentality bred by Klopp.

“He is our leader and everyone looks up to him,” added the England international.

“I have spoken about the manager having a massive impact since he’s come in, which he has.

“He has created a special dressing room with special players and I’m sure that will continue in the summer with new players coming in and helping this squad out to win trophies.

“I definitely feel we are going in the right direction. (I can) definitely see how hungry the team are to be successful.

“I hope there are a lot more opportunities in the next few years for us as a team because I feel as though we are good enough, have a world-class manager and we are going in the right direction.

“Getting over that first hurdle as a team, winning the Champions League would be a massive step.

“The belief you get from that going forward can really put us in a good position over the next couple of years for the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup – more trophies we want to win.”

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Liverpool's Dominic Solanke - from schoolboy to potential Champions League match-winner

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Dominic Solanke scored his first goal for Liverpool against Brighton

Dominic Solanke watched the Champions League final from home the last time his club qualified but this time around he will have a front-row seat in Kiev.

Solanke was a 14-year-old in the youth ranks at Chelsea when Roberto di Matteo’s side beat Bayern Munich on penalties in 2012.

A move to Anfield last summer has brought the first-team exposure he did not get at Stamford Bridge and while he will be on the bench for the clash against Real Madrid in the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex it represents a considerable step forward.

“I was in the youth team, didn’t go to Munich, but watched it at home,” said the 20-year-old.

“The Champions League is one of the biggest competitions in the world and to win it is amazing.

“Back then I saw how much it meant to everyone so hopefully we can get it here too.

“I felt part of it at Chelsea. So much emotion when you win a cup like that so the year after, everyone was still buzzing so I’m looking forward to feeling that here.

“I want a taste of that again definitely.

“It’s one game so anything can happen in a game of football, You have to go there knowing it’s a tough game, but we have to be confident.”

Solanke’s own confidence has been boosted by scoring his first senior goal in the victory over Brighton on the final day of the Premier League.

It has even allowed him to dream about netting the winner in Ukraine.

“It’s always nice to get your first goal. I had to wait a bit longer than I wanted, but I was delighted after that,” he added.

“It’s always difficult as a striker when you haven’t scored for a while and frustrating, but you just have to keep going, stay confident and when the goal comes, to maintain it.

“Of course I’ve been thinking about getting the winning goal in Kiev, that’s the dream.”

Solanke has been watching Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane at close-quarters this season but also picked up some tips for some of the greats at his former club.

“When I was at Chelsea, Drogba was one of my favourites, (Fernando) Torres as well,” he said.

“They were amazing especially in their prime. I trained with Drogba quite a lot and he helped me, he’s a good guy and gave me advice.

“When he saw me on the pitch doing something and I could do it better, he would tell me.”

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