They say familiarity breeds apathy. That once something becomes routine, the sparkle wares off. It becomes mundane. For some, this explains why 2,000 tickets for this weekend's Champions League final were handed back by Real Madrid fans. After all, this will be the club's fourth final in five years. It'd be understandable if some were apathetic about the whole thing by now.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are appearing in their first Champions League final in 11 years. Not since the defeat to AC Milan in Athens have the Reds had a shot at being crowned kings of Europe. Their fans have scrambled to Kiev, by planes, trains and automobiles, with thousands expected to arrive in the Ukrainian capital without tickets.
All this suggests Jurgen Klopp's side should be the hungrier of the two this Saturday. But one would be incorrect to presume this. If Zinedine Zidane has instilled one character trait in his Real Madrid team over the past three seasons, it's hunger. This is a team that revels in its own relentlessness.
"I can't talk for the opponents, but we always have the same desire as we always do and nobody can say we don't," Zidane highlighted in an interview ahead of this weekend's Champions League final. "We're in a third final and we have the chance to do something historic and win it three times in a row. You can't say Liverpool have more hunger than us; it simply isn't true. Nobody can take our hunger away from us. We're Real Madrid ... we always want more and will always give our all to get more."
In Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, as well as Zidane in the dugout, Real Madrid have leaders who set a certain precedent. Real Madrid is a club defined by its glittering success, particularly in Europe, and with that comes a drive, a determination. There won't even be a hint of apathy in Real's performance against Liverpool.
This isn't the only thing that makes Real Madrid favourites to claim yet another Champions League title. Their run to this season's final, especially contrasted with that of Liverpool's, underlines their quality and hints at the aura this team now has in European competition. Zidane's side could hardly have had it any tougher.
Liverpool saw off Manchester City in impressive fashion in the quarter finals, but besides that the Reds have been handed a favourable draw in almost every round. In the group stages, they were paired with Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor. Real Madrid, on the other hand, had Borussia Dortmund and Spurs in their group.
In the last 16, Liverpool blew away a vulnerable Porto side without any fuss. Once again, Real Madrid were handed the far tougher draw, paired with Paris Saint-Germain. At the time, the French side were the tournament's top scorers and many peoples' favourites to win the whole thing. Many saw PSG as on the brink of a Champions League breakthrough and yet Real found a way to halt them.
In the quarters, Real Madrid also faced Juventus, last season's Champions League runners-up, before coming up against Bayern Munich in the semis. In contrast, Liverpool only had to progress past a Roma side who looked like conceding every time they were forced back into their own half.
With this tricky route to the final has come an irrepressible determination. To get this far having seen off so many top calibre sides, sides that could have gone on to win the Champions League themselves this season, has battle hardened Real Madrid. Liverpool haven't faced a team like this on their run to the final. This will be a new experience for them and one that could overwhelm them.
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