Karim Benzema makes Liverpool claim that is well wide of the mark ahead of Champions League final


Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has claimed that Liverpool have 'not changed much' as the European heavyweights prepare to do battle once again to become kings of the continent.

The pair meet in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday evening.

A mouthwatering clash is set to ensue at the Stade de France, with the Reds aiming for revenge after losing 3-1 to Real in the 2018 final in Kyiv.

Jurgen Klopp's side were also knocked out of the competition by Los Blancos in the quarter-finals last season.

Benzema featured in all of those games and has claimed that Liverpool are still a similar team to their encounter four years ago.

What’s been said

Speaking to Madrid's club website, the Frenchman - who has bagged 16 goals in this campaign's Champions League - said: “They're a very good side.

“They haven't changed much for the last four or five years.

“They have a good coach but we have to focus on our own game.

“We played against PSG, Chelsea and [Man] City, who were the favourites.

“We're full of confidence heading to Paris. Anything can happen in a final. You're away from home, they really press you.

“We have to be able to dig in and play on the break, or retain the ball, depending on how they play.”

How Liverpool have changed

Liverpool's team from the 2018 meeting has changed significantly.

Of the starting line-up from Kyiv, only five are guaranteed to feature for the Reds if everyone is fit - Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.

From the past team, Loris Karius has been jettisoned after a disastrous display. He hasn't made a single appearance for Liverpool since, with Alisson Becker - regarded as one of the world's best goalkeepers - between the posts.

Dejan Lovren featured next to van Dijk in central defence. Now it's between either Joel Matip - who was out injured - or Ibou Konate who will start alongside the Dutchman.

Jordan Henderson may retain his spot in midfield but Klopp will have decisions to make if Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho are both given the green light.

Should the pair be fit, Henderson could well be on the bench as Naby Keita - who was not at the club for the previous final - could be preferred.

James Milner started against Madrid when they were managed by Zinedine Zidane. The veteran is a contender to again play if Thiago and Fabinho are sidelined.

Gini Wijnaldum, who made up the engine room, is now enduring difficulties at PSG.

In attack, Mo Salah remains on the right flank.

However, Sadio Mane's been converted into a central striker rather, having featured on the left-wing when he last faced Madrid.

The newly-crowned La Liga champions will also have to face the raw attributes of Luis Diaz for the first time.

Diaz has made a magnificent impact since arriving from Porto in January, recording five goals and five assists.

What's more, there's not one player on the bench in Kyiv still at Anfield.

Simon Mignolent, Nathaniel Clyne, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Dominic Solanke have all moved on.