MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has warned Liverpool that his side are as hungry as ever to win the Champions League, rejecting claims that the Spanish giants might have lost their edge ahead of Saturday’s final in Kiev.
There have been some suggestions that Real, having won the past two finals, might not be as motivated as Liverpool, with the English club not having tasted European glory since 2005.
“I can’t talk for the opponents, but we always have the same desire as we always do and nobody can say we don’t,” Zidane told a news conference.
“We’re in a third final and we have the chance to do something historic and win it three times in a row. You can’t say Liverpool have more hunger than us; it simply isn’t true.
“Nobody can take our hunger away from us. We’re Real Madrid ... We always want more and will always give our all to get more.”
The Frenchman also said that his side’s experience of playing in and winning three finals in the past four years will have no bearing on the outcome. By comparison, no player in the Liverpool squad has reached this stage of the competition before.
“It’s a one-off game, in a neutral venue. We’re ready for it, but our experience doesn’t count,” Zidane said.
“Granted, we have more, but we need to show that we want to win it. Our experience doesn’t count for anything. It’s a final, they (Liverpool) haven’t played in a lot of them, but they’ll kill themselves for this and we know it.”
Inevitably, talk turned to star men Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, but Zidane was unequivocal when asked if he would swap the Portuguese for Liverpool’s Egyptian star.
“Cristiano is the best, he shows it every year,” the coach said.
“Sometimes pressure gets to players and it spurs others on. He is certainly the latter. He’s of maximum importance to us.”
Editing by David Goodman