Liverpool’s Joel Matip insists he always knew he was capable of playing at this level

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Liverpool defender Joel Matip has been one of the surprise success stories of The Reds’ season so far and now he’s getting ready for a Champions League final in Madrid.

Normally an injury-prone centre-back, Matip managed to maintain almost full fitness in the second half of the season when Jurgen Klopp needed him most.

Matip, along with Dejan Lovren, was the backup centre-half behind the ever-improving Joe Gomez and irreplaceable Virgil van Dijk until Gomez fractured his lower leg at Burnley in early December.

Matip himself, broke his collarbone in December, too. However, he returned to action in mid-January and hasn’t looked back since.

But not only has Matip stayed fit, but his performance levels have also risen to higher than we had ever seen from him in a Red jersey previously.

Speaking in the Champions League press conference at Melwood, Matip said he never doubted his own ability and thanks to the faith shown in him by Klopp he has been able to produce what he’s capable of on a more regular basis.

When asked about having Klopp’s belief in him, Matip said:

“I think it’s not too bad for the self-confidence, but I always believed in myself. Now I have the opportunity to play and I just try to use it.”

Matip was then quizzed on his state-of-mind as the Champions League final in Madrid edges ever closer.

“Of course I know it’s one of the biggest games, but at the moment I’m fine. I just want to enjoy that I have the opportunity. It’s the kind of game you want to play as a kid and now you are there, it would be stupid to make more pressure than it is, even one week before. It doesn’t help. In the game, the tension has to be there. But one week before, doing the training session OK, but not during all the day.”

The former Cameroonian international was also asked how it feels to play alongside Virgil van Dijk at the back, Liverpool’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year award winner for this season.

“With the ball, he [Van Dijk] is so calm and he wins his challenges in the air and on the ground. He gives the whole team much more stability and he did it very well.”

Preparations at Melwood are entering their last few days now as The Reds and their fans prepare to make the trip to Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Spain for Saturday’s final.

Matip is likely to retain his starting place alongside Van Dijk at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.

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