Liverpool’s young defender Joe Gomez believes The Reds are better placed for Champions League success this season than they were ahead of their meeting with Real Madrid in Kiev a year ago.
Gomez, who only turns 22 next week, missed out on the squad for the final last season after undergoing ankle surgery. This time around, the former Charlton Athletic player is just returning from another serious injury, having fractured his lower leg at Burnley in early December.
However, positivity is very much a part of Gomez’s makeup and when speaking to Liverpoolfc.com he was keen to highlight the progress this Reds team has made as a unit since last year’s final defeat to Real Madrid.
“I definitely think we go into this final in a different place. It’s still a Champions League final and they’re always separate occasions and you have to approach it with the same mentality.
“But I think this year speaks for itself and the growth in the team has been massive.
“[The manager] shows and emphasises the fact that we’re a different team and we can’t go into thinking that we’re the same team.
“In that sense, we can take the confidence from that, but still have the desire to win one because we know what it means for this club and we want to get the sixth star.”
Liverpool can build on that experience of a loss in last year’s final and use it to be better mentally prepared before facing Spurs in Madrid on June 1st.
In the year since Kiev, Gomez established himself as Klopp’s first-choice central defensive partner to Virgil van Dijk before Christmas but then had to deal with breaking his leg in December – an injury which kept him out until mid-April.
Gomez spoke about the experience of another huge injury setback in his young career.
“It’s probably underestimated a bit how much it can affect us as footballers.
“Like it might just seem that you’re injured and now you just watch the boys, but it hurts – especially [in] a year like this that was pretty historic.
“To watch a large majority of those games, having had a taste of it at the beginning was difficult to take. Obviously, it was nice to overcome it and get a bit of involvement at the end.
“We’ve just got to move on now and we’ve got a big game. There’s a lot of ups and downs, but it’s all a learning curve.”
Gomez will most likely have to settle for a place on the bench on June 1st with Joel Matip having played superbly in his absence, especially in recent weeks.
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