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Post Kiev: Why Real Madrid are eating Klopp & Liverpool's dust

COMMENT: Need to assess Liverpool's season? Then just switch sights to Spain. No, not Wednesday night's opponents Barcelona. Instead, try Madrid and the carnage now engulfing Real...

Two coaches sacked. A potless season. And the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo's departure looming larger by the day. Real Madrid are a shambles. Even Zinedine Zidane can't get a tune out of this lot. Criticise his players in public? Zidane doesn't do that. At least he didn't do that. Sunday's humiliation at Rayo Vallecano forcing a rare public blast from the Frenchman.

In contrast. And oh what a contrast. Real's opponents all those months ago in Kiev. Well, they're sitting pretty. Liverpool. In every facet that counts in this game. The Reds have outstripped Real since that Champions League final night last May.

Like Real, Jurgen Klopp's team could finish the season without silverware. But again, what a contrast. This industry. This sport. It's all about moving forward. And Liverpool now have the foundations in place for sustained success.

Actually, when we say they could finish the campaign trophyless, that would be wrong. Liverpool already have a trophy. The FA Youth Cup. Yeah, it's one Klopp can't take credit for. And nor would he. But it is an achievement the German will benefit from in the near future.

That it was done against rivals Manchester City. And at their Academy stadium. Well, that made it all the more sweeter. That it was also a final won without first teamer Ki-Jana Hoever. That's significant. It's been 12 years since the Reds last won this title. And only Jay Spearing would emerge from that triumph to make any sort of dent on the first team. This one, however, boasts several prospects who have a real chance. Bobby Duncan, who was playing against his old team on Friday, is coveted across Europe. Management reckon they could have one in Yasser Larouci, nicking the French lad from under the noses of Manchester United. And Duncan's strike-partner, skipper Paul Glatzel, had BILD, no less, last week pleading to the DFB not to let the Germany-qualified Scouser slip their net.

When you consider the success of Harry Wilson at Derby County this season. And Marko Grujic winning comparisons with Stefan Effenberg at Hertha Berlin. Is it any wonder Klopp was dismissing talk of his regular seven year itch last week?

Seven years at Mainz. Another seven at Borussia Dortmund. And this current contract will run to 2022 - or exactly seven years from the day he set foot at Melwood. But the manager insisted last week: "The only thing with the seven years is it is pure coincidence.

“When they offered me a contract I did not say: 'Yeah, that will take me to seven.' It looks like a big master plan! Look, both sides – the club and myself – have a wonderful commitment that we really try everything to make the club as successful as possible.

“How long it will take, I have no clue. The position we are now in I am really happy with."

And why wouldn't he be happy? This team of his. A run to the final four of the Champions League. Pushing Pep Guardiola's City to the hilt in the Premier League. And all with a group of players whose best days are ahead of them. What's more, a group of players who are all committed to the cause.

There's no Ilkay Gundogan case inside Anfield. Nor one remotely close to what's swirling around Leroy Sane and his contract. And unlike Guardiola, Klopp doesn't have the headache of having to find a way to replace the influence of David Silva. The Spaniard can't go on forever. And the void his retirement will leave is yet to be genuinely scrutinised.

Such a problem isn't a concern for Klopp. And this summer, no matter how it ends, he will have the luxury of buying from a position of strength. There'll be no panic. No rush jobs. If he and the club's transfer committee feel the need to act, they'll be able to do so in the club's best interests. The envy inside the boardroom of Real Madrid is surely palpable.

Nabil Fekir will be back on the agenda. Klopp doesn't give up so easily. He didn't regarding Southampton and Virgil van Dijk. Nor with Sadio Mane. Watching the Senegalese from his days at RB Salzburg until he could finally prise him away from St Mary's. If there's something to be done with the Lyon captain, Klopp won't blink. Fekir could yet get that dream move of his to Anfield - 12 months on.

And it'll be done calmly. Surgically. An addition made to improve an already great team. A team that can only get better. And one now clearly set up for sustained success.

The kids are winning trophies. Those out on-loan are winning admirers. And the first team still has the possibility of the Double. Defeat in Kiev was no peak. Simply a stepping stone to bigger things.

Klopp and Zidane. Liverpool and Real Madrid. What a difference a year in this game makes.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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