Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says the club do not go into this month’s Uefa Champions League final against Real Madrid as underdogs, as he hopes they channel the spirit of 2005 to lift a sixth European Cup.
The Premier League side take on the reigning champions at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on May 26, the first time they have contested a final in 11 years.
The last time they won the Champions League was two years earlier, when Gerrard played an instrumental role on a memorable night against AC Milan in Istanbul. Then, Liverpool came back from three goals down to eventually triumph on penalties. Captain that night, Gerrard began the turnaround by scoring Liverpool’s first goal.
The Englishman, who was confirmed last week as the new Glasgow Rangers manager, is in Dubai currently as part of the latest LFC World event. Asked on Thursday about Liverpool's chances of emulating his celebrated 2005 side, the former midfielder said Jurgen Klopp's team should take heart from their 7-6 aggregate victory against Roma in last month's semi-final.
Gerrard believes also that the prolific front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino means Liverpool will cause Madrid problems. The trio has scored 29 goals between them in this year’s competition.
“We’ve got a really good chance,” said Gerrard, who played 710 matches and won nine trophies during 19 years at Liverpool. “I wouldn’t say on current form we’re going into the game as underdogs at all. Although I suppose Jurgen and the boys will want to go in as underdogs, because it takes that little bit of pressure off.
“But the form they’re in and how they performed in the last two games against Roma, and with the form the front three players are in - especially Mo Salah - we go in with every confidence and belief that we can get the job done.
“In 2005, when we were the underdogs, and rightly so against a fantastic Milan side, if you go in with confidence and belief and you never give up … I’ve experienced it, it can be done.”
Gerrard’s full focus will soon turn to Rangers - his first job in management - when he officially starts his new role on June 1. The former Liverpool youth coach has signed a four-year deal with the Scottish giants and takes with him to Ibrox Gary McAllister, a one-time teammate at Anfield and an ex-Scotland international. McAllister, who is accompanying Gerrard in Dubai this week, will serve as assistant manager.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for myself and Gary, really,” Gerrard said. “The opportunity came up for a managerial role in Scotland with Glasgow Rangers in the [Scottish Premier League] and is obviously a very exciting opportunity for myself, Gary and the rest of the staff that we’ll take with us.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge. It’s big. It’s come very quickly since I started coaching, but it’s one I’m really looking forward to.”
Gerrard will attend the LFC World Viewing Party, alongside McAllister & Steve McManaman, on Sunday at Barasti, 5:00pm-9:00pm.