Playing in the Champions League final – it’s the biggest game of your life.
I was gutted not to be starting in Athens in 2007. I’d scored a load of goals that season but didn’t get in the team for the final. It’s one of my biggest regrets.
I was told just before the game that I was ‘t playing and I was fuming – I mean I was ready to bash doors down because I’d played all the games leading up to it. I didn’t expect us to set-up so defensively, but the manager had decided to go with Dirk Kuyt up-front on his own and five in midfield.
It was a situation where you know the result and the team is more important than one person’s feelings so you just have to keep quiet for everyone else.
It was a real blow though.
I felt Milan were there for the taking that night. They weren’t as good as the 2005 side from Istanbul, but we didn’t go for the jugular.
I got on for the last fifteen minutes or so and thought I caused them a few problems but it was a cagey game and we didn’t play well.
It didn’t work out for us but the buzz around it all was still incredible – the fans, the flares, driving into the stadium – it’s unrivalled. It’s so special.
I hope the players take it in on Saturday.
Liverpool out for revenge
I spoke to Mo Salah after the Villarreal tie and he said he wanted Madrid in the final to his revenge for 2018.
Jurgen Klopp’s trying to downplay that for the team, because you want to keep quiet before a big game. There’s no need to add anything more to an occasion like this that can – it’s already big enough, it’s the Champions League final!
It’s obviously part of the history between these two clubs though.
Sergio Ramos was always one of those players you love if he’s on your team and you don’t like when he’s not because he winds people up.
He’d do anything to get the win and what happened with Mo Salah was intentional in my view. It put him out of the game and Real got another title.
You don’t like to see it – and you don’t like to say it – but Ramos is a winner and it worked out for him back then.
That’s all history now. If Mo Salah’s riled up and out for revenge because of it, Madrid’s defence could be in for a very long evening.
Thiago and Fabinho are expected to be fit. That’ll be key for Liverpool.
Henderson and Keita would come in a do a good job but you want you’d want them both in there ideally, especially Fabinho.
He’s the most important player in that midfield for this game because you want him to get on to Luka Modric and stop him playing.
I played with Luka Modric at Spurs and he’s one of the best players I ever played with.
He’s so graceful on the ball, you couldn’t get it off him, even in training!
He was the best player there every day – and this was a team with Gareth Bale and Rafa van der Vaart in it, but he was way above everyone, even then.
He might look small to people watching on TV but he’s always been well-built and strong – his legs are like tree trunks and you can’t knock him off the ball because of it.
And he’s a great lad too, it’s wonderful to see everything he’s achieved.
Salah to stay… for now
Mo Salah’s said he’s staying another year for Liverpool, but I’d want to get this contract situation sorted this summer or you’d have to think about selling him.
It’s the final year of his contract. – it needs to be cleared up.
Mane is in a similar situation. It makes things awkward.
NEW TO PADDY POWER NEWS?
This could be the biggest contract they’ll get in their careers, so obviously it needs to be right for them. I understand that completely from a player’s point of view, but for Liverpool, they can’t be held to ransom.
To lose one of Salah or Mane would be a blow, to lose two would be massive as they’re so crucial, but you do have to trust in the process at Liverpool because they’ve built the team so well over a number of years.
I remember when it was “a disaster” when Torres lef. Then they signed Suarez.
Then it was “a disaster” when he left. And it was the same when Countinho left as well.
They’ve bought good players, sold them for big money and they’ve managed to rebuild.
So you have to trust in the club that they’ll get it right.
CROUCHY’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BET BUILDER
- Jack Grealish wakes up with Mike Tyson’s tiger in his hotel room
- Vieira accepts Big Dunc’s Hell in a Cell Challenge after Goodison clash
- Peter Crouch: City might win the league, but Liverpool’s treble would still be incredible
- Paddy Power’s Erling Haaland specials – how will he get on at City?
- Martin Scorsese to direct final episode of Arsenal Amazon doc