Real Madrid have been likened to a cat with nine lives by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin after their dramatic run to the Champions League final.

The Spanish LaLiga winners came from 2-0 behind on aggregate with a stunning comeback against Paris Saint-Germain at the last-16 stage, then resisted a Chelsea fightback in the quarter-finals.

They topped those victories, however, with their recovery against Manchester City in the semi-finals, with Ceferin admitting he thought the Spanish giants' hopes were finally dead and buried.

An all-English final in Paris was looming when City led 5-3 on aggregate going into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, only for a Rodrygo double and Benzema's penalty in extra time to sensationally turn the tie around.

The May 28 showpiece will now feature Madrid against Liverpool, both long-time titans of the competition, with Ceferin describing that match-up as "insanely interesting".

"Already in the semi-finals I doubted that Real could eliminate Manchester City," Ceferin said, "especially after the defeat in the first game."

City won 4-3 in Manchester and led 1-0 in Madrid through Riyad Mahrez's goal, before the late flurry from the hosts.

"They obviously have nine lives like cats," Ceferin said, in an interview with Slovenian news website 24ur.com.

The UEFA boss noted the experience in the Madrid ranks, yet he questioned the strength of Carlo Ancelotti's defence, describing it as "weak".

"But they have the miraculous Karim Benzema, for whom I have said many times that in my opinion he is one of the most underrated players in the history of football," Ceferin added.

"Luka Modric, the older he is, the better he is."

 

Benzema has scored a competition-high 15 goals for Madrid in the Champions League this season, in just 11 games. Those goals have come at a rate of one every 67.7 minutes. He is an obvious threat to Liverpool's hopes of winning a third cup competition this season, having already won the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

Ceferin believes both sides have their merits, with Madrid's experience punching against the relative youth of Liverpool.

"I wouldn't dare to predict the winner, as a rule I misjudge. It's impossible to predict," he said. "This will be an insanely interesting final."

Off the field, Ceferin says he has had no recent contact with Madrid senior officials, after the club were key players behind the failed push for a European Super League.

"The time will come when these things will be cleared up, but they will certainly not be on the pitch," Ceferin said.

Jurgen Klopp labelled the Nations League as "one of the most ridiculous ideas in the world of football" amid arguments with UEFA over Champions League final ticket allocations.

Liverpool manager Klopp took aim at UEFA after it was announced fewer than 20,000 tickets apiece will be allocated to Reds and Real Madrid fans for the final in Paris on May 28.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin responded by stating that the system works as he explained tickets were split between the market, fans and sponsorship partners.

Ceferin also said he had shared a conversation with a manager from Madrid or Liverpool to discuss the matters, which was clear to be Klopp after he voiced his discontent.

Klopp again expressed his disappointment on Friday, speaking before the FA Cup final with Chelsea on Saturday, as he hit out at the Nations League and detailed his exchanges with Ceferin.

The German accepted Ceferin's explanation on the Champions League but implored UEFA to take more revenue from the competition as long as it meant his players did not have to play in the Nations League.

"We didn't speak, he texted me. I obviously said that there should be more tickets for supporters and then I think the same explanation [he gave me] he gave publicly," Klopp told reporters.

"What is it? 93 per cent of the Champions League money goes to the clubs and UEFA only get a few euros and I replied and said 'okay, this is one of those situations where you should have more information before you give answers' but I cannot constantly be prepared for these kinds of things, but I still have an opinion.

"So it's fine, I will try to clarify that here that obviously I didn't know enough about it. But I said as well in this conversation, I have said now that he spoke to me, that the reason I am not in such a good mood when I speak about UEFA is because of the Nations League.

"I still think it is one of the most ridiculous ideas in the world of football because now we finish a season where [some] players have played more than 70 games, easily – club games 63 or 64, plus internationals – and then go direct to 75, which is pretty mad.

"We continue with Nations League games because we have to play them [when] there is no tournament, who cares we play four, five or six games with the national teams.

"So that is the reason because I would prefer UEFA take more money from the Champions League final and kick out the Nations League again. That would be my preferred solution and more tickets for the people anyway.

"That is my personal opinion. I read about it but maybe I don't have all the information, but it is still my opinion." 

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin labelled the crowd trouble at the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy as unacceptable and warned it must never happen again.

Italy secured their first European Championship since 1968 with a penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley Stadium in July, but the game was marred by clashes before the final.

Hundreds of supporters without tickets attempted to gain entry prior to kick-off, with an independent review later concluding it was "clear we were close to fatalities and/or life-changing injuries for some, potentially many" of the fans in attendance after 17 mass breaches of Wembley's gates.

UEFA punished the Football Association (FA) with a two-game stadium ban, one of which is suspended for two years, and an £84,560 fine.

The FA subsequently apologised and said it was appalled at the disorder that saw ticketless fans fight with stewards and police officers in an attempt to force their way into the stadium.

Ceferin, who was in attendance at the final, reinforced his disappointment with the failures of football as he spoke to a UEFA congress in Vienna on Wednesday.

"We still have many problems to solve to make our sport a role model and greater source of inspiration than it is today," Ceferin said.

"The images of violence at Wembley Stadium at last year's Euro final are unacceptable.

"When a family goes to see a match of any competition, it should be a time for fun, celebration and enjoyment. People should feel safe in and around a stadium.

"They should never feel in danger. With the authorities' help, this cannot happen again. Ever."

 

Aleksander Ceferin has defended UEFA's allocation of Champions League final tickets following criticism from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

The Stade de France has a capacity of 75,000, but less than 20,000 tickets apiece will be allocated to Reds and Real Madrid fans for the showdown on May 28.

Liverpool manager Klopp made his feelings about that perfectly clear after his side beat Villarreal at the semi-final stage.

He said: "It is absolutely not right, but it happens everywhere. It doesn't make it better, just in this specific case you are not only paying more than last time for a ticket, but you only get 50 per cent of the tickets and the rest goes to people who pay thousands and thousands for the tickets."

Klopp added: "When you see the ticket prices and all this kind of stuff, the amount of tickets you get only... did I read, is it right that we only get 20,000, they get 20,000, [but] 75,000 in? That makes 35,000, what? Where are these tickets?

"I cannot be more appreciative, more thankful for what [the fans] are doing. Unbelievable... It is the only bad thing about the journey [fans struggling to obtain tickets]. I really hope they all can make it somehow and can create an incredible atmosphere.

"That is what I love about this game, really. The world will be red or white, but everybody will be either or, so that's really cool."

UEFA president Ceferin responded by stating that the system works.

He said: I explained the same thing to one of the coaches of the two teams [Liverpool and Madrid] a couple of days ago and I can do it here. I explained it to him a bit more and took much more time because I went through every single number.

"From the revenues from the finals, UEFA gets 6.5 per cent and 93.5 per cent goes to the clubs. From the other matches 100 per cent of the revenues goes to the clubs.

"Fans of both teams get 20,000 tickets each. If sponsors that pay 100 or more million euros sponsorship – of which 93.5 per cent goes to the same clubs – get some tickets, it's part of a contractual obligation that we have.

"UEFA doesn't get more tickets than the others. Some tickets go to the market, some tickets go to the fans and some go to the partners. It's not UEFA. I'm not giving tickets for free to my friends or selling to my friends.

"It's the system that works, and clubs couldn't function differently. For us, not much will change if all the tickets will be €10, but it will change a lot for the clubs. A lot."

Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema is "one of the most underrated players in history" according to UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

Benzema has produced several incredible displays to fire Real Madrid to their 17th European Cup/Champions League final, scoring hat-tricks in last-16 and quarter-final ties with Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, before netting three goals across a 6-5 aggregate win over Manchester City in the semi-finals.

The 34-year-old has been touted for the Ballon d'Or after scoring 43 goals and providing 14 assists in all competitions for Los Blancos this term, with Carlo Ancelotti's team also wrapping up the LaLiga title last week.

The France international has scored 10 goals in the Champions League knockout stages, the joint-most recorded by a player in a single campaign, along with Cristiano Ronaldo in 2016-17, also for Madrid.

Speaking to AS, Ceferin rejected suggestions Madrid had been fortunate in the competition this season, hailing the contributions of Benzema and midfielder Luka Modric and labelling the former "awesome".

"For me, one of the most underrated players in history is Benzema. He is an amazing player. And they have Luka Modric, who the older he gets, the better he plays," Ceferin said.

"Now [Benzema] is becoming more and more recognized. He has always been in someone's shadow. 

"It's amazing how this footballer can score goals. He finds a way, even when it seems impossible to score. He is an awesome player.

"We will have to ask them [Madrid] how it is possible. They are an experienced team. You could say that they have been a bit lucky in some matches, but you can only be lucky in one, not all."

After scoring an extra-time penalty to send Los Blancos to the May 28 final at City's expense, Benzema has scored seven Champions League goals against English teams this season, the most by a player in a single campaign in the competition's history.

He will have the opportunity to build on that record when Ancelotti's men face Liverpool in the final in Paris, and Ceferin believes the removal of the away goals rule has contributed to this Champions League season being one of the most exhilarating in recent history.

"That's the Champions League. The biggest football promotion and the best sports competition in the world," he added. "And when you watch these games… it's amazing. 

"I am happy that we have changed the away goals rule. When I told some of my team-mates that, they told me that there would be more penalty shoot-outs. 

"But it is not true and that is how it has been seen. The matches, in my opinion, are more interesting.

"The clubs in the Champions League are the best and playing away is almost the same as playing at home. I'm looking forward to the final."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says the remaining Super League clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus could yet face sanctions, also insisting they are free to form their own competition if they give up their places in the Champions League.

Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus were the only three founding clubs not to renounce their backing for the widely derided Super League after the breakaway project's collapse in April 2021.

Last month, a Madrid court lifted precautionary measures preventing UEFA from punishing the trio, who have continued to voice their backing for a new competition – to be governed by its founding clubs – despite the withdrawals of the other nine founding members.

Speaking to AS, Ceferin hinted sanctions against the trio could be on the horizon and hit out at the "incredible arrogance" of the clubs.

Ceferin, who assumed his post in 2016 after succeeding Michel Platini, also said the clubs were free to do whatever they liked, but would not be allowed to participate in UEFA competitions if the venture was revived.  

"Of course it's possible [to sanction the clubs] but let's see what happens," he said. "The only 'hello' UEFA got from them came from the courts, as they tried to challenge us everywhere. 

"We never said that they couldn't play their own competition, because they can if they want. But it's funny that these were the clubs that first registered in the Champions League. 

"If they play other tournaments, they cannot play in our competitions. That is not a monopoly. They can create their own UEFA and do what they think is right. 

"I showed them a lot of respect in the past. I don't want to talk about the president of Juventus [Andrea Agnelli], but my relationship with him was very open and honest. 

"I never said this before, but I invited the president of Madrid, Florentino Perez, to Nyon before it all happened to talk about future competitions. He called off the meeting with a text message just 24 hours earlier because of 'a basketball-related event'. With [former Barca president Josep Maria] Bartomeu I never spoke.

"Everyone had a chance to speak, and we've never been pushy or arrogant. The announcement of that project was an act of incredible arrogance on their part, and that's probably why they don't want to communicate with UEFA. 

"But that has never influenced how we treat them in our tournaments. You can see it in their successes: Real Madrid will play in the Champions League final and Barca will play in the Women's Champions League. That is a clear sign that our competitions are healthy, fair and correct.

"Football must remain open to all, and we will not back down one millimetre to defend the European sporting model. What they want is theirs, and they are free to get together and do what they want."

Amid their refusal to back down on their support for the Super League, Real Madrid will appear in their 17th European Cup/Champions League final later this month after a remarkable 6-5 aggregate triumph over Manchester City in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, although UEFA has faced criticism for proposed Champions League reforms which could allow two qualification places to be awarded based on historical performances, Ceferin said the demise of the Super League made clear that continental football must remain open to all.

"I was glad it happened because it was always up in the air," he added. "When it finally came out, we ended once and for all with this nonsense that football can be bought, that football is only for the elite, only for the rich. 

"That will never happen. People warned me that the same people killed basketball, but I told them, 'Basketball is not football. It will never be football.' Football is part of our history. It is part of our traditions."

The Arsene Wenger-fronted plan for a World Cup every two years was "more or less a nonsense" and FIFA saw sense by finally ditching the idea, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino last week indicated the world governing body had dropped the project, which had drawn strong criticism from European and South American authorities in particular.

Infantino said FIFA had never proposed the change to the tournament that has taken place every four years since the first edition in 1930.

But Infantino had been seen by many as a cheerleader for the switch, making a widely criticised claim in January that opportunities delivered by a World Cup every two years could provide impetus for African migrants to avoid treacherous crossings to Europe, suggesting they could avoid "death in the sea".

Ceferin told a news conference on Thursday: "We are happy FIFA ordered that it is finally off the table, the biennial World Cup.

"Formally it was not proposed by FIFA, but it was encouraged by FIFA. It's good they've listened to the football community.

"For me, it's very good that this project that is more or less a nonsense is off the table."

Former Arsenal manager Wenger, as FIFA's chief of global development, had been the main advocate for the biennial World Cup, promoting the concept widely ahead of a possible vote and nailing his colours firmly to the mast.

Infantino claimed the alterations would yield significant financial returns if the plans were approved, with a boost of $4.4billion in the first four-year cycle of a new international calendar, which would climb to $6.6bn if each confederation also switched its regional competition to become biennial.

A vote now appears highly unlikely to happen in the near future, and Ceferin questioned whether there should be any other major tournaments added to the international calendar.

"About new tournaments, I don't think there's much time for new competitions, but let's speak about it and let's see," Ceferin said. "For now, we didn't discuss it."

Ceferin said UEFA would take a decision "very soon" on Russia's possible involvement in the Women's European Championship, which begins in July and will be staged in England.

Despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has led the country to be widely ostracised, a final ruling has yet to be taken on whether the women's football team should be allowed to take part.

The men's team were swiftly thrown out of the World Cup by FIFA, denied a place in a play-off to reach the Qatar 2022 finals.

Ceferin said: "There is a court case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of the Russian Football Union. We expect some information from there as soon as possible, but we know we are in a hurry to decide about this issue. We know the Euro is very soon and that we'll have to take the decision soon, but we need some more information."

Asked whether Russian football authorities should be expelled by UEFA, Ceferin said there were "considerations about many things these days".

Russia has bid to host the Euro 2028 or Euro 2032 finals, in a move that has been met with widespread disbelief.

Ceferin will be aware of that sentiment and said of Russia's bid: "We are discussing it, and you will have the answer very soon."

Clubs across Europe face renewed scrutiny of their spending on wages, transfers and agent fees after UEFA announced an overhaul of its financial fair play system.

UEFA's executive committee approved new club licensing and financial sustainability regulations at its meeting in Nyon as the first major reform since financial regulations were imposed in 2010.

The alterations focus on "solvency, stability and cost control" to promote financial sustainability, with the "squad cost" regulations – which come into place from June 2022 – limiting the spending of clubs.

Clubs will only be able to spend up to 70 per cent of revenue on wages, transfers and agent fees, with breaches resulting in "pre-defined financial penalties and sporting measures".

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the game, hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, needed to be prepared in case of "any potential future shock".

In terms of solvency, there will be greater protection for creditors – and punishments for late payers – with no overdue payables towards football clubs, employees, social and tax authorities and UEFA.

UEFA revealed further changes to the previous financial fair play (FFP) rulings, with football earnings – similar to break-even results – allowed to show an increased "deviation" from the previously permitted €30million over three years to €60m over the same time period. That is to aid the balance sheets of clubs, ensure the fair value of transactions and to reduce debts, UEFA said.

UEFA's FFP chief Philippe Rasmussen said in a news conference there was an additional €10million allowance in this area "for clubs that are in good financial health".

Ceferin said on Thursday: "UEFA's first financial regulations, introduced in 2010, served its primary purpose. They helped pull European football finances back from the brink and revolutionised how European football clubs are run.

"However, the evolution of the football industry, alongside the inevitable financial effects of the pandemic, has shown the need for wholesale reform and new financial sustainability regulations.

"UEFA has worked together with its stakeholders across European football to develop these new measures to help the clubs to address these new challenges.

"These regulations will help us protect the game and prepare it for any potential future shock while encouraging rational investments and building a more sustainable future for the game."

Aleksander Ceferin is confident FIFA will soon abandon its plans for a biennial World Cup, which he considers "a no-go for everyone in football".

FIFA, led by chief of global football development Arsene Wenger, has been pushing for its showpiece international tournament to take place every two years, rather than every four.

The idea has been met with widespread opposition by others within football, however – particularly in Europe and South America.

And although the world governing body has publicly continued to pursue the change, UEFA president Ceferin says it has now accepted it cannot happen.

"A biennial World Cup is a no-go for everyone in football," Ceferin said at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit on Thursday.

"I am glad FIFA has realised that as well. I had a discussion with FIFA's president about it yesterday.

"We cannot say football on other continents cannot be developed, but we should be aligned, and it should not hurt European and South American federations.

"We have discussions, but as far as I am concerned, a biennial World Cup is off the table. I am sure we will come to a solution with FIFA soon."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says the Super League's remaining backers "must live in a parallel world", amid reports that Juventus, Real Madrid, and Barcelona are looking to revive the project, almost a year on from the breakaway competition's ill-fated launch. 

The proposed Super League was announced on April 18th last year, although nine of the competitions' 12 founding clubs moved to renounce the idea within days after it provoked a fierce backlash from across the footballing world. 

However, Madrid, Barca and Juve remain committed to the project, with Bianconeri president Andrea Agnelli reportedly keen to kick-start a new proposal.

Speaking at the Financial Times' Business of Football Summit in London, at which Agnelli was present, the UEFA president has now hit out at the clubs' owners for discussing the return of the controversial competition during the midst of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"First they launched [this] nonsense idea in middle of a pandemic," Ceferin said of the club owners. "Now we are hearing they are launching another in a war. 

"They must live in a parallel world."

Ceferin has previously labelled Agnelli, as well as the Spanish giants' presidents Florentino Perez and Joan Laporta, as "incompetent", and accused them of trying to "kill football".

Meanwhile, Ceferin also spoke about the sporting sanctions being placed on Russia in the aftermath of the invasion on Ukraine.

FIFA and UEFA have moved to expel Russian teams from its competitions, including the upcoming Women's European Championships in England, for which Russia had qualified, while St Petersburg has been stripped of this season's Champions League final.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has outlined a duty to help protect Ukrainian children amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Ukraine was invaded by Russia last week and the fighting continues to escalate.

Millions of people are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, and UEFA's Foundation for Children has pledged €1million in aid.

The UEFA foundation has also promised to provide an emergency fund of €100,000 to assist children and refugees fleeing into Moldova.

"Children are very vulnerable during conflicts and it is our duty to help defend their fundamental rights and their health," said Ceferin, chairman of the foundation's board of trustees.

"Thanks to the solidarity of European football and the support of our partners, we will be able to provide some of the assistance that children urgently need in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries."

UEFA confirmed the emergency fund of €100,000 will be provided to the Football Association of Moldova, which is working alongside humanitarian organisations. Provisions such as medicines and supplies to children's hospitals within Ukraine are included in the package.

UEFA set up its Foundation for Children in 2015 to help children and defend their rights, as well as provide support to their health and education.

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, UEFA last week stripped St Petersburg of the right to host this season's Champions League final, which will instead be held in Paris.

UEFA and FIFA have also banned all Russian national and club teams from competing in any of their tournaments.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has reiterated his opposition to FIFA's biennial World Cup plans as he believes the proposal will fail as "it's simply a bad idea".

FIFA, led by chief of global football development Arsene Wenger, has been promoting the idea for the World Cup to shift format and take place every two years.

FIFA reported to its member associations at their global summit on 20 December that the changes would make football $4.4billion richer over the first four-year cycle.

That figure would then climb to $6.6billion, according to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, if each confederation also switches its regional competition to become biennial, while FIFA claimed its members were largely in support of the plans.

But UEFA, along with South America's CONMEBOL, continue in their staunch opposition to the proposed alterations to world football's showpiece event.

"Europe and South America are against [the plan] and those are the only [continents with] World Cup winners in history," Ceferin told reporters at the Expo 2020 Dubai Fair on Thursday.

"The problem is that the World Cup has to be every four years to be interesting.

"Second, if it would be every two years, it would cannibalise women's football because it would be at the same year as the women's football [World Cup', other sports, the Olympic Games - many mistakes.

"It's simply a bad idea and it will not happen because it is a bad idea, not because we are opposing it."

Ceferin's comments come after the two governing bodies clashed ahead of FIFA holding its global summit with national associations earlier in December.

FIFA published results from a study that claimed the majority of football fans would like to see more frequent World Cups. UEFA, however, said an independent survey called proposals "alarming" just hours before.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is also part of a  growing list of opposition, which includes Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski after the pair raised concerns earlier in the week, all of whom fear the impact of the changes on the world's sporting calendar.

"Why are the Olympic Games every four years? Because it's an event that you have to look forward [to], that you have to wait [for], and you have to enjoy it," Ceferin added.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to Simon Kjaer ahead of Wednesday's clash with Milan, saluting the defender for his composure and humanity in response to Christian Eriksen collapsing at Euro 2020.

Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's European Championship opener against Finland in June, with Kjaer the first on the scene to place his team-mate in the recovery position before leading the rest of the team in the formation of a protective shield around the Inter man as he received treatment.

The 29-year-old midfielder was subsequently taken to hospital and it was later confirmed he had suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch, but medics were able to resuscitate him.

Eriksen was fitted with a pacemaker before returning home, though it remains unclear if he will ever play again.

Kjaer received widespread praise for his quick-thinking at such a crucial juncture, with he and the eight medics involved hailed the "true heroes of Euro 2020" and presented with the 2021 UEFA President's Award by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin last month.

Kjaer is expected to be in the Milan team that will play the club's first Champions League match in seven-and-a-half years at Anfield, and Klopp hopes Liverpool fans recognise the defender's exploits.

"I am usually more keen to focus on my own players rather than an opponent, but tonight I must make an exception," Klopp wrote in his programme notes.

"This evening it is possible that Simon Kjaer will line up against us and this is a person who I think has the respect of the entire football and sporting world.

"You recognise true leadership in a crisis. I think the world acknowledges this now more than ever with everything that goes on around us.

"Like millions of others, I was rocked by the scenes that unfolded at the European Championship in the summer when Christian Eriksen fell ill during Denmark's opening group game.

"There were many heroes that night, not least of all the remarkable medical professionals for the Danish national team, in the stadium and subsequently at the hospital. But Simon shone that traumatic day for his own conduct.

"The image of the Danish players shielding their team-mate as he was cared for will, in my opinion, forever be one of the most iconic in sporting history. It showed the best of humanity. Compassion, care and love for their friend.

"Honestly, I have no idea how he managed to not only keep his own composure in that situation, but to have the clarity of mind to make the decisions he did in that moment. His conduct humbles us all.

"I'm told that Simon's dad is an LFC fan – and if that is the case, he must be bursting with pride that his boy is now recognised worldwide as the epitome of our anthem, 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

"I know our supporters are knowledgeable and generous of spirit and therefore I am sure Simon will feel the gratitude of the home crowd tonight, but for the 90-plus minutes of the game he is again the opponent."

Wednesday's contest will be Liverpool's first Champions League match in front of a home crowd since March 11, 2020, when the Reds lost 3-2 to Atletico Madrid after extra-time and were dumped out of the competition at the last-16 stage.

Klopp feels Liverpool were always lacking something in the absence of supporters through the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but in his opinion that was always exemplified during Champions League games.

"It will be so cool just before kick-off to hear that Champions League anthem and see the players lined up in front of a full Anfield," he continued. "We missed supporters for every second of every game during the pandemic, but I must admit it was most acute on the European nights.

"Let's have all the noise, all the colour, all the positive energy and all the passion and intensity that is our trademark. Let's give this fixture the stage it deserves. I honestly cannot wait."

Wednesday's match will be the first meeting between the two historic clubs that is not a European final, with their only prior clashes being in the Champions League deciders in 2005 and 2007, winning once each.

Simon Kjaer and the medical team who acted rapidly to tend to Christian Eriksen following a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 have been recognised with the 2021 UEFA President's Award.

Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's opener against Finland in June, with Kjaer the first on the scene to place his team-mate in the recovery position before leading his side to form a protective screen while the Inter man received treatment.

The 29-year-old was subsequently taken to hospital, where he was fitted with a pacemaker before returning home, though it remains unclear if he will ever play again, despite visiting Inter's training ground in August.

For Kjaer's exemplary leadership, the centre-back – along with eight medics – have been hailed as the "true heroes of Euro 2020" and presented with the award by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

"This year, the President’s Award transcends football," Ceferin said.

"It serves as an important and eternal reminder of just how precious life is and puts everything in our lives into the clearest perspective.

"I would also like to send my very best wishes to Christian Eriksen and his family as he continues his recovery."

After Kjaer had performed the initial CPR, the medical team responded quickly, resuscitating Eriksen before taking him off the pitch on a stretcher to rush him to hospital.

"We rushed to the field to help [Christian] and to do our job," said Mogens Kreutzfeldt, chief medical officer for Euro 2020 in Copenhagen.

"We did what we should, what we were taught, what we were trained to do.

"Everybody knew their role, everybody knew what to do.

"We were not emotional at the scene. Afterwards, we were, of course, like everybody. We're very happy and proud of the outcome."

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