Having lead Liverpool to two Champions League finals himself, Rafa Benitez has discussed the importance of big decisions in huge games.
Speaking with UEFA ahead of this season’s final, the 62-year-old said: “We prepared professionally and methodically for both Istanbul and [the 2007 final in] Athens.
“For Athens we were even on top of what kind of temperature we could expect on the day of the final and we had a training camp in Spain to adapt as much as we could. In general terms, you try and keep everything the same or as similar as you can, so that the players can keep their routines.
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“In the weeks before a final, everything is a bit easier in terms of the day-to-day stuff because everyone is really focused on the job at hand. Training is easier because nobody gets distracted. The main challenge is ensuring the side grows in confidence, and talking to the players and staff so that the message remains consistent.
“Prepping a league campaign is a game-to-game scenario but you can’t lose focus of what’s on the horizon. You know, and the players know, there’s room for error.
“In knockout football, there’s none. Your line-up, your set-ups, your gameplan and your substitutions all have to be correct. In key moments of the game, decisions based on your abilities and experience can make the difference.”
Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti both have plenty of experience of playing in these occasions, as well as both teams being comfortable on the biggest stage.
With less time between the end of the Premier League season and this year’s final, the preparation will have to be different for the boss.
It’s a real meeting of two European giants, let’s hope we have a similar result to our former manager’s success in Istanbul but without the same amount of stress!
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