Nuri Sahin has told talkSPORT former teams Liverpool and Real Madrid have an equal chance in the Champions League final but an ‘unbelievable’ Karim Benzema could be the difference.
Sahin spent time with both of the European giants after making his name alongside Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, where he was named the Bundesliga Player of the Season in 2011 after winning the title.
Currently managing in the Turkish Super Lig with Antalyaspor, Sahin has got off to a fine start in coaching, with Liverpool boss Klopp and Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel two of his inspirations.
Sahin made the Champions League final with Klopp in 2013, where Dortmund eventually lost to Bayern Munich at Wembley Stadium, but believes his good friend and old coach now has the winning pedigree that is crucial in finals.
“Both clubs and teams, they have all the reason to be confident because they are playing very good,” Sahin said in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.com.
“They have two outstanding managers, two historical clubs, with final history also.
“It’s important because if you played some finals, you already smell the air there and you know how it feels when you’re there.
“This will help both of them. I just read a few days ago that Real Madrid never lost the Champions League final.”
Since the European Cup was rebranded to the Champions League in 1992, Madrid have in fact won every final they’ve been in, taking home seven of their 13 titles in that time.
One of those victories was against Liverpool in 2018, but Sahin says there’s nothing between the two sides with the Reds ‘on fire’ this season.
One difference though, maybe Madrid’s number nine, who the Turkey international played alongside at the Bernabeu.
Benzema is this season’s top scorer in the Champions League with 15 goals and has easily been the stand-out player of the tournament so far.
The Frenchman has managed four goals against Chelsea and three against both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, with his heroics earning Madrid a spot in the final.
That hasn’t always been the case for the 34-year-old, though, with much of his peak years in Spain spent being the playmaking foil for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
However, as Sahin recalls, Benzema’s extraordinary talent was always on show.
“The thing with Karim… he was unbelievable,” the former midfielder said.
“I had the privilege, at least, to play one year with these kinds of players. Of course, we had brilliant brilliant players.
“When I think about Cristiano, when I think of Marcelo, [Angel] Di Maria, Xabi Alonso, but Karim was always also there, you know.
“I was impressed by the work he did and how professional he was and how good he was with the ball, without the ball, scoring goals, being involved in the build up and he’s amazing.
“I’m very happy that these kinds of players also are shining, you know, like we live in the Ronaldo and Messi era, which is absolutely crazy with what what they did for football, but now it’s also nice to see Luka Modric, Benzema, [Robert] Lewandowski to see them also shining.
“I can say the same for Lewy as I said about Benzema. It’s absolutely crazy. The statistics, the games, they play how they play. I love every moment of watching them.”
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