Jürgen Klopp will neither ask nor expect his Liverpool players to stray from their trademark attacking approach in the Champions League final.
The wait for the European showpiece against Real Madrid in Kiev – the Reds’ first appearance in the fixture for 11 years – is now less than a week to go.
After spending the majority of this week amid the sunshine of Marbella for a training camp, Klopp and his team returned to Merseyside on Saturday night to begin the next stage of their preparations.
The task at hand is to find a way to beat a side entering their fourth Champions League final in five years and who have been crowned winners in each of the past two.
But Liverpool won’t be daunted by the objective, and the expansive football that has brought them this far will be trusted to complete the job against the Spaniards.
“If I was to ask the boys, ‘What do you want to do in this game?’ they would say, ‘What we always did’. I am pretty sure that would be the answer,” explained Klopp.
“In football you always have to try to create a plan to deny the qualities of an opponent, but you also have to bring through your own qualities. If we would only think about trying to deny their qualities, that would be quite difficult.
“It’s not that we go there, run like crazy and have no clue how to defend, it won’t be like that. But we will play our football and hopeful at the highest level.”
Real’s recent dominance of Europe’s elite club competition has the La Liga outfit on the threshold of an achievement not seen since the 1970s.Bayern Munich were the last team to win the tournament three times in a row, from 1974 to 1976.
Klopp’s respect for that record is huge – but the Liverpool manager believes his players’ hunger for a first taste of such success could be a decisive factor in the game.
“There have been three dominant clubs in the last few years – Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern,” said the German, who took Borussia Dortmund to the 2013 final.
“We face one of them in the final so who should be the favourite? I have no problem with the situation. It’s not that I want to be the underdog, I don’t feel like an underdog.
“But, yes, they are favourites, they know everything, they could write the script for the final because they have experienced it four times in the last five years. We can’t but no problem with that. We want to play and win a football game.
“In the end it will be a test: what’s bigger, the desire to win a third one in a row or the desire to win the first one for some years?
“Real have almost exactly the same line-up from winning it before. A lot of their players won the last two finals and that’s really rare.
“This has been the Real Madrid Champions League generation. They will want to do it again. It would be big, 100 per cent. If we did it, it would be big too.”
There’s an understandable temptation to paint the match as Cristiano Ronaldo v Mohamed Salah.
The forwards are at the summit of the European goalscoring charts for 2017-18, with the latter’s sensational exploits since joining the Reds catapulting him into conversations previously exclusive to Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Mohamed Salah Stats.
Games Played: 12
Minutes Played: 899
Substitution On: 1
Substitution Off: 7
Duels Won: 43.7%
Aerial duels won: 11.1%.
But Klopp sought to play down that particular subplot.
“They all have qualities. It’s not about having the better individual, usually it’s about playing the better football. For that to happen, you need all the others as well,” added the boss.
“Mo played a fantastic season but Cristiano has played 15 seasons like this. He has scored something like 47,000 goals – crazy numbers.
“Why should we compare? At the time of Pele nobody compared Pele to other players and asked, ‘Is he as good as him?’
“Now we have Messi and Ronaldo. They have dominated football for a few years and there are so many other good players.
“Messi and Ronaldo are in the final moment very often in the right position to score a goal and that’s the most difficult thing to do in the world. That’s why they are where they are.
“The Ballon d’Or is always between them. It’s well deserved. When they stop playing football we will miss them, 100 per cent.” Says klopp.