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Dejan Lovren: ‘The only thing similar about Liverpool to 2014 is our name’

The Croatia defender played in the meek defeats by Real Madrid under Brendan Rodgers but says the club are very different now

Memories of Dejan Lovren’s last Champions League encounter with Real Madrid and the similarities with Saturday’s final might once have caused him to wince. Today they inspire only belief. “If I see fear in a team-mate’s eyes I will slap him and say: ‘Come on,’” the Liverpool centre-half explains. “But when I look in their eyes now, the young lads and the experienced lads, they are full of confidence. We are not in the final without a reason.” Kiev is an opportunity for Real to see how far Liverpool have come.

The Spanish club were the European champions with a forward line of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema when they handed Lovren and Liverpool a lesson at Anfield in October 2014. The strikers, two of seven Real players that night who could start in Ukraine, both scored as Brendan Rodgers’ team trailed 3-0 by half-time. Liverpool stemmed that onslaught but it was a hugely underwhelming European campaign that is remembered for Rodgers surrendering before the return at the Bernabéu, where he put Philippe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling on the bench in readiness for a league game against Chelsea that also ended in defeat.

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