Rafael Benitez has given his opinion about which staff will come out victorious from the Champions League ultimate between Liverpool and Real Madrid on Saturday in Paris.
The Spanish coach was in command of each golf equipment previously. With Liverpool, he managed to win the European Cup in 2005, however at Real Madrid he didn’t dwell as much as expectations.
In an interview for MARCA, Benitez mentioned his favourites to win the trophy, Liverpool‘s flaws and Real Madrid‘s benefit forward of the ultimate.
Who do you assume may have possession within the ultimate?
“I see, going through the data, that Liverpool are slight favourites, with one condition: they are playing against a club, Real Madrid, who are used to playing finals. Liverpool have 61 percent of possession in their matches and Real Madrid between 55 percent and 60 percent. Liverpool’s figures, in recent years, have gone up in terms of possession because they have better players and control more of the games. Real Madrid, however, now counter attack more, with Vinicius or Rodrygo. I think they have 25 percent counter attacks to Liverpool’s 19 percent. Klopp is doing a very good job and Liverpool have improved a lot. Both of those things.”
Do you see any flaws on this Liverpool staff?
“They know how to keep the ball in the opposition half, they are good on the counter, they are very good at set pieces, and they also defend and press with intensity. They have few weaknesses. We all know they have two very attacking full-backs. [Andrew] Robertson is number one in high intensity running in the Premier League and [Trent] Alexander-Arnold puts in more crosses than anyone else. Where Real Madrid can be strong is hitting on the counter with Vinicius running behind the back of the full-backs. I’m sure both [Jurgen] Klopp and [Carlo] Ancelotti know this. The other problem for Liverpool would be if Fabinho or Thiago [Alcantara] don’t play. Fabinho is the one who recovers the most balls. And Thiago is the one who provides the final pass. Without them, they lose something.”
Compare this Liverpool staff with the one which went to the Champions ultimate in Kyiv in 2018.
“This is a team used to playing more finals and winning some of them. They have more experience, obviously. And then, Alisson has improved a lot the defence. He gives more security to the defence.”
You arrived at Real Madrid in 2015/16. And you signed…
“We signed three [players]. Casemiro, who was on loan at Porto, was one. They asked me at the club if we would bring him back and I said ‘of course’. Now he has improved on the ball and gives freedom to [Luka] Modric and [Toni] Kroos. Then we signed Lucas Vazquez and [Mateo] Kovacic. What happens is that people don’t remember.”
Sometimes evidently it’s a must to conceal that you’re a Real Madrid fan. And that is since you began very younger within the academy, already as a participant.
“From the age of 13 until I was a coach it was almost 20 years at Real Madrid. I was champion in Spain with the club’s U18. I still have the image of Luis de Carlos giving us the cup. I’m surprised by some of the opinions that came out later, but that’s OK. It’s true that now I’m more identified with Liverpool, but I was treated very well here.”
Can you publicly say who you need to win on Saturday?
“I’m fond of both of them. Whoever plays better should win. It would be good for football. I repeat: if we go by the numbers, I see Liverpool as slight favourites. But Real Madrid in finals are Real Madrid, and they have rested longer. In that, they have the advantage.”
In phrases of strains, do you see Real Madrid superior in any of them?
“Alisson is very good, but Thibaut Courtois is very good. From there, it’s pretty evenly matched, although the possible absence of Fabinho and Thiago [if they’re out injured] will hurt Klopp. Physically, Liverpool’s defence is very imposing, and that’s a challenge for Real Madrid. And at corners, they’ll get the better of you.”
In different phrases, you may’t combat towards Liverpool’s depth.
“Yes, with quality and organisation. If you come out of the first line of pressure, you have more space, but it’s not easy to do it.”
Do you’re feeling sorry for the best way Gareth Bale, who you defended loads, has ended up?
“Gareth is a great player and it’s not good that, like [Eden] Hazard, they don’t end up succeeding. Hazard is a good lad, a great player, and let’s hope that his injuries are over and he can come back well.”
How have you ever considered the Kylian Mbappe subject?
“He is a player with a valid contract who decides to stay at his club, even if, from January 1, you can talk to others. But if he does not formally commit himself, we must respect his decision. That’s how I see it.”
Has teaching Everton taken its toll on you within the metropolis?
“I took charge of Everton because I had a lot of Blues friends who wanted an experienced coach to put right a lot of the things they knew weren’t, and aren’t, right in there. Liverpool fans understand it was a professional and personal decision because of my affection for the city. Most understood that. It wasn’t as if I had signed for [Manchester] United, for example. But the Everton project stayed there. There was no investment and we had a lot of injuries. We lost the backbone of the team and some crucial points. Still, we were six points clear of relegation with two games in hand.”
And you are not ever going again to Liverpool?
“Jurgen Klopp is doing a great job. When he finishes, here they are already talking about Steven Gerrard, a symbol at the club. I mean, it’s not so easy to say I’m coming back. We’ll see what the future holds.”