Benitez: Klopp’s Liverpool better than my 2005 winners

Rafa Benitez

Former boss Rafa Benitez says the current Liverpool squad is better than his 2005 Champions League winning side.

Liverpool, who will play reigning champions Real Madrid in Saturday’s final, beat AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul after coming back from a 3-0 half-time deficit.

“I always say Istanbul will be the most emotional Champions League final ever because of the way we came back,” said Benitez.

“We achieved what we achieved – they talk about the Miracle of Istanbul – but this team is better.”

The 58-year-old, currently in charge at Newcastle, said that despite his Liverpool side boasting names such as Steven Gerrard, Dietmar Hamann, and Xabi Alonso, current manager Jurgen Klopp’s attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane mean the present-day squad is better.

Salah (10), Firmino (10) and Mane (nine) have scored 29 goals between them in the competition this season, a Champions League record.

“We had Stevie, of course, also some players with experience and quality, Alonso and Hamann. We had players who worked very hard, we had a good balance,” he said.

“This team also has good balance, but the front three can make a difference on their own. We had one player who maybe could make a difference on his own, and here they have three.

“If we talk about the money spent, my budget was £20m. The value of this team is so much higher.

“Liverpool’s intensity can hurt you but Real Madrid have the experience and quality to match them.

“Liverpool can do it. They have the quality. But sometimes in these kinds of games you pay for one mistake.

“It’s how you manage the pressure. Real Madrid have been managing this kind of pressure for a while and Liverpool are in a new situation, so it’s a fine balance.”

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