May 22, 2007, 02:45 PM
Join Date: January 25, 2005
Location: Bradford, England
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL:PREVIEW
'WE DESERVE TO BE HERE - NOW LET'S WIN IT!'
Report from liverpoolfc.tv website:
||Rafael Benitez has told his players not to waste their opportunity to seize more Champions League glory inside the Olympic Stadium tomorrow night. |
|At a light-hearted and occasionally jovial pre-match press conference deep in the bowels of the Athens stadium, the Liverpool manager spoke passionately about his determination to bring European football's most important trophy back to Anfield once again. |
Benitez fielded numerous questions from journalists from many countries during his half hour in front of the cameras - but his message throughout to his players remained the same: 'Make yourselves heroes'.
"We are here because we have been doing the right things and we deserve to be here," he said.
"The players have worked hard all season and I will be telling them before kick off not to waste this opportunity. If we can play well and win then it will be perfect, but if not then they must come off the field knowing they have done their best.
"We worked hard in the training camp to prepare the game and the players are focused on ready. We know what we need to do but playing a Champions League final is never easy. It wasn't easy last time and it won't be easy this time.
"We have a lot of respect for Milan, they are a very good side with a lot of experience and we saw from their game against Manchester United what they can do. If they play like that again and have a lot of the ball then it will be harder for us, but we have prepared how to control their players, the ball and the space on the pitch. We are ready now."
Benitez isn't anticipating another Istanbul-style thriller - but believes whichever team strikes first will hold a big advantage.
"It is going to be a tough match and I think the team who scores first will have a great chance," he said. "Our plan definitely doesn't include conceding in the first minute again!
"If you said to me now it will be the same as Istanbul and that we will win again then I'd take that. But I don't want to go through that kind of match again because I think I'd need a doctor this time!
"The key tomorrow is remembering why we are here and playing the way we have done in Europe all season."
Asked by different reporters to explain his secret in enjoying such great success in European competition, Benitez was keen to pay tribute to his backroom team.
"My staff are the key," he said. "We have good people, good workers. When you have a good staff then you can be successful. Of course we have good players as well. Everything is good.
"I know there has been talk about what we'll do after the game but, believe me, I'm not interested in that at the moment. All I am doing is concentrating on tomorrow's game. We have 90 minutes of our season left and we're focused on winning one more match."
The Reds will have a final training session at the stadium this evening, when fitness checks on Bolo Zenden and Momo Sissoko will be made.
Harry Kewell is definitely available, with Benitez revealing he is fit enough to play 90 minutes if necessary.
"I have decisions to make on the team," he added. "We have 22 players here so four of them won't be involved at all tomorrow.
"Of those who will be in the squad I have good options, but we'll decide later on after training."