You could be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu when Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The two European giants faced off in 2018 in Kyiv, with Los Blancos running out 3-1 winners thanks to, among other things, a sensational Gareth Bale overhead kick.

Four years later Liverpool and Madrid ready to battle it out to be crowned kings of the continent, with 19 European Cups/Champions Leagues already between them.

Just how much have the two teams changed since then, though? Stats Perform has taken a look at both to see if there are any similarities and marked differences to expect in Paris.

From nearly men to trophy collectors

One of the many reasons defeat in Kyiv hurt for Liverpool was it would have not just been another Champions League success, but the first trophy won since Jurgen Klopp had taken over.

The German coach had been at Anfield since October 2015, and while there had been clear progress, it had not yet manifested in the form of silverware.

The idea that the loss was merely a bump in the road on the start of a journey has since been proven correct, as Liverpool have since hoovered up a Champions League, Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, EFL Cup and FA Cup.

At the time, though, it may not have felt that inevitable given the Merseyside club went into the final having finished fourth in the league, 25 points behind champions Man City, having also been knocked out of the EFL Cup in the third round and the FA Cup in the fourth round.

As well as making the final, the 2017-18 season was memorable for the Reds acquiring one Mohamed Salah, who went on to score 44 goals in all competitions.

They lost Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in the January transfer window, but signed Virgil van Dijk from Southampton to help out a troubled defence.

The team that started against Madrid included at least six players you would think will start in Paris in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Salah and Sadio Mane, while James Milner and Roberto Firmino will at least be on the bench.

It is perhaps the additions made that will make the difference this time, most notably in goal.

Loris Karius suffered a concussion after an elbow to the head from Sergio Ramos that night, which could explain his bizarre performance after that where he threw the ball straight onto Karim Benzema's foot for Madrid's opener, before dropping the ball into the goal from a Bale shot for their third.

Brazil international Alisson is a significant upgrade on Karius.

Instead of the... shall we say... enigmatic Dejan Lovren, Van Dijk will be partnered by either Joel Matip or Ibrahima Konate, both of whom have performed well with the big Dutchman this season.

Should they be fit, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho will play with Henderson in midfield instead of Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum, while Luis Diaz will almost certainly play alongside Mane and Salah in place of Firmino.

Klopp only made two changes off the bench that night, with Adam Lallana replacing the injured Salah in the first half, while Emre Can also arrived in the second half with little impact.

He will likely have players such as Firmino, Milner, Diogo Jota, Naby Keita and, for one last time, Divock Origi to make the difference if needed in the French capital.

But overall, how much have they changed as a team since that season?

In all competitions in 2017-18, Liverpool averaged 2.39 goals for and 1.11 goals against per game, while making 584.18 passes per game.

They created 2.26 big chances per game, attempted 62.19 long passes per game and won possession in the final third on average 4.94 times per game.

Compare that to this season, they have averaged slightly fewer goals for with 2.37 per game, though have conceded just 0.76 per game, and made 624.55 passes per game, suggesting they control matches more than they used to.

They have created 2.43 big chances per game, and make fewer long passes with 57.13 per game, so are also maybe not quite as direct.

One of the more interesting stats is that they have been winning possession in the final third on average 7.32 times per game this season, significantly more than they did four years ago, so Madrid will be wary of that.

Speaking to Stats Perform, former Liverpool player and assistant manager Phil Thompson - who was captain of the Reds when they beat Madrid in Paris to lift the European Cup in 1981 - said he feels their added experience will help them this time.

"They're better equipped all round," he said. "We're better defensively. The back four, the goalkeeper, I do think all round we're more experienced now in the way we play with Sadio, Mo Salah, and Luis Diaz has brought a different element to our game."

Madrid back as Champions League experts

Back in 2018, Zinedine Zidane guided Los Blancos to their 13th European Cup/Champions League, but otherwise it was a pretty ordinary campaign.

They finished third in LaLiga, 17 points behind the champions Barcelona. They were also knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage by lowly Leganes.

They just had a knack in the Champions League, though, and remarkably won their fourth in five years.

Similarly to Liverpool, you would imagine at least five of their starting XI in Kyiv will also start in Paris, with Dani Carvajal, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Benzema key men in Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Thibaut Courtois has replaced Keylor Navas in goal, while Eder Militao, David Alaba and Ferland Mendy will probably be the ones to take the places of Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo.

It is up top where things have mainly changed though, and not just in personnel.

Isco has become a squad player, who will leave at the end of the season, while Cristiano Ronaldo has long since departed, paving the way for Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo to come in, while Benzema has drastically increased his output.

The France striker scored 12 goals in all competitions in 47 games in the 2017-18 season, but has bagged 44 in 45 this campaign.

As for the team overall, in 2017-18 they averaged just 2.14 goals for per game, and 0.91 against, creating 2.11 big chances per game.

Somewhat bizarrely, their goal averages both for and against are the same as Liverpool's were four years ago (2.39 goals for, 1.11 against per game), though they have increased their average of big chances created to 2.71 per game.

However, they have won LaLiga this season, in addition to the Supercopa de Espana, and somehow found their way past Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to reach the final.

Looking at those numbers and what has been achieved since, it is fair to say that both teams have improved since their Kyiv meeting.

Klopp's men have gone from a relative also-ran in English football to one of the strongest teams in the world, and had it not been for City's incredible comeback against Aston Villa on Sunday, would be playing to complete a phenomenal and unprecedented quadruple on Saturday.

Madrid have taken back their place as the best in Spain, and whether it was through luck or determination, have toppled three of the best teams in the competition to make it here.

You would assume the match in Paris will be a closer affair than 2018, and as finals so often are, is likely to be decided by the fine margins.

With the strength of both teams, though, do not be surprised if this isn't the last time we are sat here preparing to do battle in Europe's showpiece club game in May.

Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas believes the club's run to Saturday's Champions League final will mean nothing if they eventually lose to Liverpool.

With 725 matches played, Casillas trails only Raul Gonzalez for appearances made for Los Blancos, winning the Champions League three times with the club, including the famous La Decima in 2014.

Madrid have made a dramatic run to Saturday's fun, coming from behind on aggregate in all three knockout ties to eliminate Paris Saint-German, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Writing for the Player's Tribune, Casillas insisted it will matter little if Liverpool lift the trophy on Saturday instead.

"The comebacks are very good but now we have to get it. We need the icing on the cake," Casillas wrote for the Players Tribune. "If you don't get that icing, the cake won't be complete, right?

"If the cup does not reach the showcases, nobody is going to remember what happened with PSG, with Chelsea and with Manchester City. To be exciting, it has to be until the end, with the prize.

"One step away from glory for the 14th time, people think that winning the Champions League is easy and it is not. If just reaching a Champions League semi-final is something incredible, when you get one, two or three cups you have to be proud."

The 41-year-old singled out Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has been a pivotal figure in both their LaLiga title and run to Saturday's final, with 21 clean sheets in 50 games across all competitions.

While insisting Courtois is the best goalkeeper in the world, that Casillas' athletic and versatile style in goal was long regarded as an inspiration is something he also takes pride in.

"A separate paragraph is for Courtois, and I think no one can argue that today he is the best goalkeeper in the world," he said. "It's the same thing I think of Karim [Benzema]. To rise even higher, you have to get that award. And he deserves it like nobody else, since he has been essential for Madrid to reach the final in Paris.

"I am proud that, as I did with [Luis] Arconada, he has grown up inspired by my stops, by my videos. There will be another kid out there who will want to be like Courtois tomorrow. But, in short, I am flattered to have been a part of his life."

Sadio Mane will wait until after the Champions League final before revealing "the best answer you want to hear" on his Liverpool future.

Mane has been a key man for Liverpool as they have challenged for silverware on four fronts this season, scoring 23 goals and assisting two across 50 games in all competitions.

The 30-year-old winger is excelling again despite uncertainty surrounding his future at Anfield, where his contract is due to expire in 12 months' time.

Team-mates Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are in the same position, but Mane is determined talk of a departure will not distract from Saturday's huge match against Real Madrid.

And he teased he will "give you all you want to hear" after the Paris showpiece.

"I think the answer I can give you now is I feel very good," Mane said. "I am fully focused on Saturday's game, that is the answer I must give before the final.

"But come back to me on Saturday and I will give you the best answer you want to hear, for sure. It's special. I will give you all you want to hear then.

"I love what I am doing, and I sacrifice myself all the time. I am working hard every single day on the pitch and in the gym, and I get better and better, that's the most important. I am trying my best to help the team."

Mane scored in the 2018 final between Liverpool and Madrid, with the Spanish giants running out 3-1 winners.

The Santiago Bernabeu side could be among the suitors for Mane should he leave Liverpool, but his aim for now is to beat them.

"Good question," he said when asked about the possibility of being approached by Madrid. "But what I want to say now is I am fully focused on the Champions League and winning it, which is far more important for me and the Liverpool fans.

"I will do everything absolutely possible to win the game for Liverpool.

"I think we all forgot about what happened in 2018. For sure, Real Madrid were the better team then and deserved to win the game, but it is going to be a different game."

Sadio Mane believes an African winner of the Ballon d'Or is overdue, with both he and Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah seemingly in the frame ahead of Saturday's Champions League final.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the award since 2008, with Luka Modric the only player to break their hegemony in the World Cup year of 2018.

France Football announced changes to the voting process in March, moving to align with the European club season and reducing the number of judges to make wins "much more demanding".

George Weah was the first and only African winner of the prestigious individual prize in 1995, but Mane appears to be in contention after enjoying a fine season with Liverpool and winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal.

"It's true. If you guys say it, what can I say myself? Which is sad," Mane said of the lack of African recognition.

"For me, it would be even more special to have another bonus, which is the Ballon d'Or, and I would be the most happy player in the world.

"This cup, the Africa Cup of Nations, is one of the biggest for myself, it is the biggest trophy I have won in my life, and for an African player not to have won the Ballon d'Or since George Weah is sad for sure.

"Winning the Champions League is special. I have a chance to play it again, and we will do everything we can to win it, and then we will see what happens with the Ballon d'Or."

John Aldridge says Luis Diaz has the full package and backed the Liverpool forward to rise to the occasion in the Champions League final on Saturday.

Diaz has been a revelation at Anfield following his move from Porto in January for a fee of €45million (£37m), which could rise to €70m.

The 25-year-old has already won the EFL Cup and FA Cup during his short time with the Merseyside club and could lift the biggest trophy in European club football at Stade de France this weekend, with Real Madrid standing in the way of the Reds and Champions League glory.

Diaz has scored eight goals and provided five assists, offering another dimension to an already potent Liverpool attack.

Aldridge has been hugely impressed with the impact Diaz has made and thinks the Colombia international can torment Los Blancos in Paris.

The former Reds striker told Stats Perform: "Luis Diaz in the final, one thing I like is that he doesn't let the finals get to him.

"The two finals he's played [against Chelsea in the EFL Cup and FA Cup]… he's only been at the club for two minutes, but he's been man of the match in two finals, which shows you, it doesn't faze him.

"Nothing fazes the lad, he just plays with energy, commitment, desire, hunger, the lot, he gives you the package.

"And that's what I love to see, he doesn't leave anything on that pitch. And he came from a modest family in Colombia, he has had to make his way through life without a lot of things given to him. He’s been like a breath of fresh air. He’s been brilliant."

Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the 2018 Champions League final and Aldridge says Jurgen Klopp's side can use that to add further fuel in their quest to be crowned champions of Europe for a seventh time.

"I think you use it as a positive, in the right way," he said. "You don't let your heart rule your head. That's one thing in football that goes without saying. It can spur you on as a motivational weapon, big time."

Liverpool and Brazil forward Roberto Firmino has said he wants to stay at the Premier League club.

Firmino is out of contract at the end of next season, as are fellow attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Salah said at a media conference on Wednesday that he will still be at Liverpool next season, though stopped short of committing his long-term future to the club, while Mane said he will reveal his plans after Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid.

However, speaking to TNT Sports Brasil, Firmino was less cryptic, making clear his desire to stay on Merseyside.

"I am very happy here," he said. "I am grateful to God that I am here playing for a great club with great players, winning trophies, and I want to stay here. I want to be here.

"I'm happy here, so that's all that I can say."

Firmino has struggled for game time at Liverpool this season, partly due to injury and partly due to the January signing of Luis Diaz, whose arrival has seen Mane deployed in Firmino's usual role through the middle.

There was also the early season form of Diogo Jota, but the Brazil international has still made 34 appearances (17 starts) in all competitions, scoring 11 goals.

John Aldridge has compared Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema to a "bottle of Rioja" who has got better with age ahead of the Champions League final against Liverpool.

France striker Benzema has scored a staggering 44 goals in 45 appearances for Los Blancos this season.

The Madrid captain is the leading scorer in the 2021-22 Champions League, finding the back of the net 15 times in 11 matches – including back-to-back hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

Benzema's penalty settled a pulsating semi-final second leg against Manchester City and the 34-year-old also helped himself to a brace in the first leg.

Former Liverpool striker Aldridge spoke of his admiration for the prolific Benzema ahead of Saturday's Champions League showdown at Stade de France.

He told Stats Perform: "I always thought that Benzema was a good player. But what he's done the last couple of years, and they've had the big players leave, he's become like a bottle of wine.

"He's matured very well. He's got better with age, which I did, because I was a late developer. I found the older I got, the more experience I got, the better I was.

"I played until I was nearly 40. He has a great football brain and all I can say is, he’s like a nice bottle of Rioja, red, that is. He's matured very, very well. And it's very expensive."

Aldridge stressed that the Reds must not allow 36-year-old midfield maestro Luka Modric to dictate the final in Paris.

"It's down the middle, we can hurt them in certain places," he said. "Vinicius [Junior] and Benzema, for me are our main threat.

"They have great players all over the pitch. In midfield, Modric, what a player, what a player he is, whatever age he is, I watched him against Man City, you let him run the show.

"And I've seen him run the show for Tottenham at Liverpool, one of the best appearances I've ever seen from an away player. Some years ago, we got beat, and he was unbelievable.

"So, you can't give him any room. You've got to watch the space in behind Trent [Alexander-Arnold], obviously where they'll capitalise with the pace of Vinicius.

"And Benzema, you can't give him any room in the box, they're the main threats. When you've got [Sadio] Mane, [Diogo] Jota, [Luis] Diaz and [Mohamed] Salah, they've got a little bit to think about as well."

Aldridge also hailed Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, who won the LaLiga title for the first time this season after leaving Everton for a second spell in the Spanish capital.

He said: "Apart from Everton? It's mad with Ancelotti, he went to Everton and walked away, and he got another crack at Madrid which to be quite honest, how that has happened is like, it's crazy isn't it?

"And he's been brilliant. You have to say he's very intelligent, he's a class act, he's been in these occasions quite a few times as we know. He has set the stall out, he's right up there with the best coaches and managers in the world. Absolutely."

Jordan Henderson and the Champions League trophy will become well-acquainted again if Liverpool beat Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday – though he might not be allowed to take it to his local pub.

Phil Thompson was the Reds' captain in 1981, when Liverpool also faced Madrid in a European final in Paris.

A 1-0 win at the Parc des Princes ensured the trophy was going back to Merseyside once again following their successes in the European Cup in 1977 and 78.

But this time there was even more of a local flavour to Liverpool's victory, with Thompson becoming the first Scouser to lift the trophy, and he was determined to make it a memorable homecoming.

The UEFA delegate who handed him the cup might not have expected Thompson to take it to the pub, however.

Alan Kennedy, who scored Liverpool's crucial goal in that final, told Stats Perform: "First of all, we knew that Phil Thompson had it, but we didn't know what he was going to do with it.

"We thought he might take it in his car. What was it? I'm sure he had a Ford Capri at the time, and it was a souped-up one, if I remember rightly!

"He put it on the front seat and everybody else had to get in the backseat and whatever. But he knew we had to look after it. He knew he was responsible for it.

"I think the rest is history about going to some of the pubs in Kirby [a town on the outskirts of Liverpool]."

There were no such stories after Henderson and his Liverpool team-mates returned to Merseyside victorious in 2019, with the trophy seemingly guarded with greater security these days.

Though Thompson insists the cup never left his sight.

"It wasn't a mission, it was always in my safe hands," he added. "I'd always planned that I was taking it back to the Falcon [a pub], I was taking it home to the Falcon in Kirby, so it's now become quite legendary.

"I travel the country and they say, 'Is it a myth?' Or, 'is it true that you took the European Cup to a pub in Kirby?' And I did.

"After we'd done the [parade] I put the European Cup in a big velvet bag in the back of the Ford Capri, an awful one, to the Falcon."

Henderson will surely just be happy to get his hands on the trophy once again, even if bringing it to his local is out of the question.

There is a debate to be had that, even if Real Madrid lose Saturday's Champions League final at Stade de France and Carlo Ancelotti never lifts another trophy again, the Italian will still be able to stake a claim as being remembered as the greatest coach of all time.

After all, he has already won 22 trophies across a managerial career spanning 27 years that has seen him coach 10 different clubs in five different countries. Indeed, he this month became the first coach to win each of the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and LaLiga.

There is no questioning Carlo's credentials, then, but victory against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in Paris really would take the 62-year-old into 'GOAT' territory as the outright most successful coach in terms of major European honours.

Ancelotti is currently level with Alex Ferguson and Giovanni Trapattoni in that regard with seven UEFA club competition triumphs – three Champions Leagues, three Super Cups and one Intertoto Cup, a much-derided competition that is now defunct.

Many would suggest a better barometer of determining the true Greatest of All Time would be to simply look at how many Champions Leagues or European Cups, as it was formerly known, a manager has won. In that case, Ancelotti is level with Bob Paisley and Zinedine Zidane with three apiece.

Triumphing for a fourth time in UEFA's showpiece competition, having previously done so with Milan in 2003 and 2007, and Madrid in 2014, would therefore set Ancelotti apart from the rest.

The hugely experienced coach has a great record when it comes to Champions League finals, too, with victories in three of his previous four such matches. The only exception to that? In 2004-05 when Liverpool famously beat Milan on penalties in a game they trailed 3-0 at half-time.

CARLO'S CUP PEDIGREE

The glitz and glamour of a Champions League final was far from Klopp's mind in that campaign when in his fourth season in charge of Mainz. The 2004-05 season was just as memorable for the German club's supporters as Liverpool's, though, as they finished 11th in what was their first top-flight campaign.

Seventeen years on, Klopp now has a shot at becoming one of 17 multiple-time winners of the European Cup/Champions League, level with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and even Manchester United great Ferguson.

He went all the way with Liverpool in 2019, triumphing over domestic rivals Tottenham, but his previous two finals in the competition ended in disappointment, with defeat against Bayern Munich as Dortmund boss in 2013 and against Zidane's Madrid as Liverpool manager in 2018.

Zidane may have been replaced by Ancelotti in the Madrid dugout, but this weekend presents Klopp – and indeed Liverpool – with a shot at redemption. Having won two trophies already with the Reds this season, Klopp's cup final record looks a lot better than it did just a few months ago.

He has now won eight of his 18 finals, which compares to 16 victories from 22 finals for Ancelotti across all competitions. In percentage terms, Klopp has won 44 per cent of finals he has contested, while Ancelotti has won 73 per cent.

A FAMILIAR FOE AWAITS

Ancelotti and Klopp are no strangers to one another, of course, with Saturday's showdown set to be their 11th meeting in all competitions. Ancelotti edges the overall record from the previous 10 encounters with four wins to Klopp's three.

Despite managing an Everton side far inferior to Klopp's Liverpool, Ancelotti lost just one of his three Merseyside derbies during his season-and-a-half in charge of the Toffees.

That includes three successive games without defeat, culminating in a 2-0 win in February 2021 – Everton's first Anfield victory since 1999 and their first win either home or away over Liverpool since 2010.

Ancelotti certainly had Klopp's number in the most recent of their battles, although the results of his two finals against English clubs in European competition have been mixed – the aforementioned shoot-out loss in 2005 and a 2-1 win two years later, both during his time with Milan and both against Liverpool.

The Italian has certainly stood the test of time, with his 70 per cent win rate in his second stint with Madrid bettered only by the 75 per cent enjoyed the first time around in the Spanish capital, and now a shot at history – a fourth Champions League and an eighth European trophy – awaits.

Against a familiar opponent in both Liverpool and Klopp, and in a city where he helped grow Paris Saint-Germain into a force to be reckoned with just over a decade ago, the stage is set for Ancelotti to further strengthen his claim as being the greatest of them all.

Sadio Mane cast doubt on his Liverpool future by saying he will reveal whether he is staying at the club after the Champions League final. 

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for Mane, who has one year remaining on his contract at Anfield. 

After missing out on Premier League glory at the weekend, the Senegal international hopes to help Liverpool lift the trophy in Europe's leading club competition for the seventh time. 

They will need to overcome Madrid at the Stade de France – a repeat of the 2018 final that was won by LaLiga's champions – for their third piece of silverware this season. 

Madrid's interest in Mane has reportedly stepped up after they missed out on Kylian Mbappe, and the 30-year-old intends to provide clarity on his future after the final. 

"I will answer after the Champions League. Whether I'm staying or not, I'm going to answer after the Champions League," he told Sky Sports. 

Mohamed Salah, whose Liverpool deal is also set to expire in June next year, confirmed on Wednesday that he will still be at the club next season. 

The Egyptian winger said the Reds want revenge over Madrid following the result in the 2018 Champions League final in Kyiv, but Mane does not feel the same way. 

"I think Mo is just Mo," he said with a smile. "For sure it's not a revenge. In four years a lot of things have changed, we have more experience and quality in the team. 

"I think we've all forgotten about what happened in 2018. For sure, Real Madrid were the better team and deserved to win the final, but it's going to be a different game." 

Mane added: "For me, relaxed, no pressure, nothing at all – just enjoy it. I think it's a dream moment for us, so let's enjoy it without putting pressure on ourselves. 

"Everybody is smiling and confident, which is amazing. We know it won't be an easy game against one of the best in the world, but that will make the game special." 

Liverpool will have Virgil van Dijk to call on for the Champions League final.

The defender suffered an injury in the FA Cup final against Chelsea earlier this month and subsequently did not feature in either of Liverpool's final two Premier League outings.

Liverpool won both games, coming from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 and Wolves 3-1, though those victories were not enough to secure the Premier League title, which went the way of Manchester City.

While Liverpool's hopes of a quadruple are now over, Jurgen Klopp's team will go in hunt of a third trophy of another fine season when they face Real Madrid at the Stade de France on Saturday, and one of their key men will be available for selection.

Van Dijk told Liverpoolfc.com: "Yeah, I'm fine, absolutely fine. No issues and very excited for Saturday, of course."

Asked if the two-week break had helped him recover, Van Dijk explained: "Yeah, I think physically definitely. 

"My body is definitely enjoying a little bit of rest after playing so many games, so many tense moments, and I think getting a little knock after the FA Cup final was maybe a sign that my body needed to have a rest. 

"I feel absolutely fine now and looking forward to, hopefully, a special evening."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is a "role model" and "one of the best people you can ever meet".

Los Blancos and Liverpool meet at the Stade de France in the Champions League final on Saturday in a rematch of the 2018 showpiece match, as both look to add to their storied European history.

Klopp and Ancelotti, who is the only coach in history to have won all of Europe's big five leagues, are going up against each other for the 11th time as managers, having first met in 2014 when Borussia Dortmund took on Madrid.

The head-to-head record is tilted in favour of the Italian, with four wins against Klopp's three, with a further three draws, including two during Ancelotti's time on Merseyside with Everton.

Indeed, Ancelotti guided Everton to their first win in a Merseyside derby in over 10 years when the Toffees won 2-0 in February 2021, which also marked the club's first victory at Anfield since 1999.

Speaking ahead of their latest encounter, Klopp explained how he thinks the best of his opposite number, and painted a warm picture of their relationship.

"What Carlo is for me is obviously one of the most successful managers in the world," Klopp told reporters. "But he's a role model for me in the way he deals with his success.

"He is one of the best people you can ever meet, I think everybody will tell you that. He's fantastic company, a really nice guy, and we have a really good relationship.

"It had a break when he was at Everton because we both respect this part of the business too much, or we would have gone out to dinner a couple of times. We didn’t do that at all!

"The respect from my side couldn't be bigger. I'm sure he won everywhere, everything, and will never stop. I really respect that, but it doesn't mean anything for this game obviously."

Ancelotti was Milan coach when Liverpool lodged a remarkable comeback in the Champions League final in 2005, coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and then go on to win on penalties.

This season, it has been Madrid who have had a penchant for dramatic turnarounds on the road to Paris.

Madrid roared back to defeat Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 thanks to a hat-trick from Karim Benzema, who subsequently scored a decisive extra-time goal versus Chelsea in the quarter-finals before slotting in a match-winning penalty after Rodrygo inspired a comeback against Manchester City.

Liverpool lost 3-1 to Madrid in Kyiv in 2018, with Gareth Bale scoring twice from the bench, and Klopp backed his own side's experience gleaned from that defeat.

"If we would take only the last 10 minutes of all the knockout games they had, we would say they are pretty much unbeatable," he added.

"The comebacks they had are really special, but these games were longer than only these last 10 minutes and obviously they had to come back in moments.

"So the other team were in the lead, we remember the PSG game where they missed a lot of chances they usually [score]. Madrid kept the door open or PSG left the door open.

"But for sure this team is full of experience. They know exactly how to approach a game, especially a final. We felt that harshly in 2018.

"They had a massive advantage to us that night, that was clear. Since then we gained a lot of experience ourselves, which is very helpful."

The "massive advantage" Klopp referred to might well be an injury to Mohamed Salah, who had to be taken off after a collision with Sergio Ramos four years ago.

Salah went on to net from the penalty spot as Liverpool won the Champions League the following year, beating Tottenham 2-0.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said Thiago Alcantara has a "good chance" of being fit for the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday.

The Spain international hobbled off with an injury just before half-time during Liverpool's 3-1 win against Wolves on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday, and was not seen in training on Wednesday.

However, Klopp told reporters at a media conference that he was scheduled to do some training later that afternoon, and that he should feature in team training on Thursday.

"I only met him now inside. Good chance [he will make it]," Klopp said.

"He will be training this afternoon, he did some stuff this morning. It was not planned he would be doing this session with players and in the moment it looks like he can be part of training tomorrow, which would be pretty helpful, and then we'll go from there.

"It's surprisingly good. After the game I was not positive about it but we got news that night it was not that bad... and now we will see."

Klopp had already been boosted earlier in the day, with Fabinho and Joe Gomez back in training following injuries sustained in the recent win at Aston Villa.

Saturday's game will see Liverpool and Madrid meet again in the Champions League final, having done so in 2018 when Los Blancos won 3-1 in Kyiv, which included Mohamed Salah being forced off with a shoulder injury in the first half.

Klopp said his players are determined to win the game, but that this does not come from an idea of "revenge", despite Salah saying he wanted it following the semi-final win against Villarreal.

"It was a harsh night for us, tough to take," Klopp said. "We came there on three wheels a bit, players came back just in time for the final, we couldn't replace Mo one for one.

"I don't believe in revenge, but I understand it as well... I'm not sure it's the right thing to do. For us, I understand what Mo said, he wants to put it right, I want to put it right.

"In Germany, we say 'you always meet twice in life', and that sounds more like a threat than it is. It just means behave better in the first moment, when you meet again you will get a better reception.

"It's all fine between me, us and Real Madrid. It is a football game of the highest level, and whoever thinks it's a good idea to give us an opportunity to win this time, I think it would be a great story but not because of what happened in 2018. It will just happen if we make the right decisions on the pitch and I hope we can do that."

Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah has said he intends to play for the club next season despite having just one year left on his contract.

The Egypt international remains in talks with Liverpool over a new deal, although reports suggest an agreement is not imminent.

Salah has scored 31 goals and recorded 15 assists in 50 appearances in all competitions this season, and some reports have linked him with a move at the end of this campaign in light of his contract situation.

However, speaking at a media conference ahead of Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid, Salah made clear he intends to remain at Anfield for at least one more year, telling reporters: "I am staying next season for sure."

Salah has previously said he does not want to talk about his contract situation until the end of the season, and he reiterated that stance, adding: "In my mind, I don't focus on the contract, I don't want to be selfish. It's about the time now, it's an important week for us. I don't want to talk about the contract."

The 29-year-old was also asked about his motivation ahead of the clash with Madrid, having previously declared he wanted "revenge" following their 2018 meeting in the Champions League final that the Spanish giants won 3-1; Salah went off injured in the first half with a shoulder issue caused by former Madrid defender Sergio Ramos.

"I am very motivated," he said. "After what happened with Madrid last time and also after what happened on Sunday, everybody is motivated to win the Champions League because this is an unbelievable trophy for us and every season we fight for it since I came here, and everyone wants to fight for it."

Liverpool were denied the opportunity to continue their pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple on Sunday when Manchester City's comeback win against Aston Villa clinched the Premier League title ahead of Jurgen Klopp's men.

While the players were disappointed, captain Jordan Henderson told reporters they are only looking forward now to Saturday.

"The mood's good to be honest," he said. "Training was very good today. I can see the excitement in them, ready for the weekend.

"Of course we're disappointed on Sunday with the outcome, coming so close and then finding out what was happening in the other game. It was tough to take, but I couldn't be more proud of the lads for the season and how we've competed in every single competition.

"We've given absolutely everything, played the maximum number of games that we could have played, won two trophies so far and got a big opportunity on Saturday to win another.

"It's all positive here, really good morale in the camp, and we just can't wait to get going again on Saturday and give absolutely everything one last time this season and try to get over the line to bring the Champions League trophy back to Liverpool."

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho resumed training on Wednesday in a boost for Jurgen Klopp ahead of the Champions League final.

The Premier League side take on Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday for the biggest prize in European club football, but it was feared Klopp could be without two of his key midfielders.

Thiago Alcantara remained absent from the AXA Training Centre after suffering an Achilles injury in Sunday's win over Wolves, but Fabinho – who has not played since sustaining a muscle strain at Aston Villa two weeks ago – was in attendance and appeared to take part in full training.

Klopp had previously expressed confidence that the Brazil international will be fit for the final.

Liverpool have had a slightly better win percentage this season in all competitions with Fabinho in the side (74.5 per cent with, 73.3 per cent without) and have conceded marginally fewer goals on average (0.7 per game with, 0.9 per game without).

Joe Gomez, who came off injured with an ankle issue in the win at Villa, was also back in training but is unlikely to feature from the off at the Stade de France having made just 11 starts for the Reds in all competitions this season.

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