Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says the “pain” of losing last season’s Champions League final is driving him and his team-mates as they prepare to face Tottenham on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in the 2018 showpiece.
Gareth Bale scored a stunner for the Spaniards, while keeper Loris Karius was at fault for two Real goals.
“I took a lot of experience from it; hopefully I can use that,” Dutchman Van Dijk told BBC Sport.
“Losing a final is painful.”
Liverpool are looking to be crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time when they face Spurs in an all-Premier League final at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano (20:00 BST kick-off).
Van Dijk is hoping to win his first trophy with an English club, having moved to Anfield from Southampton in January 2018 for £75m, a world record fee for a defender.
‘One game – anything can happen’
Liverpool, runners-up in the Premier League, finished 26 points above Tottenham, having beaten them 2-1 both home and away.
Yet Van Dijk knows league form will count for nothing when the teams meet in Spain’s capital.
“People can say whatever they want, that we had a better season than them in the league,” said the 27-year-old.
“That was maybe true, but anything can happen. The final is one game.
“They’re a very good team and throughout they have a lot of strength.
“They have a fantastic goalkeeper, two great centre-backs and a midfield that’s been very good. They have Victor Wanyama, who I know from Southampton, and Christian Eriksen, who has been doing it for years.
“Up front, they have players who can make a difference, so we have to be ready.
“But I know they’ll definitely think the same about us. We’re not a nice team to face so it’s going to be difficult.”
‘We’re not going anywhere’
This is Liverpool’s 53rd competitive game of the season, the Reds winning 37 of their previous 52.
Yet the Reds will end the campaign without a trophy if they lose to Spurs.
Klopp’s side pushed Manchester City all the way in the Premier League before finishing second on 97 points – one point behind the champions.
“We’re not thinking about what [happens] if we lose,” added Van Dijk, who was named Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year. after an outstanding season in Liverpool’s defence.
“That’s something for media and pundits to talk about. We have a big opportunity to win and that’ll be the mindset.
“If I could swap the player of the year trophies for the Champions League, I would do it in no time.
“Football is a team game. Hopefully we’re going to do it.”
Liverpool finished their domestic season with nine consecutive Premier League victories, yet could not overhaul a City side who won their final 14 top-flight matches of the campaign.
The key moment, Van Dijk said, was City’s tight 1-0 win over Leicester in their penultimate league match.
“After the Leicester game, when Vincent Kompany scored the screamer, you had to be realistic that City wouldn’t give it away,” added Van Dijk.
“To compete with Manchester City this season confirms that we’ve made big steps because they’re an outstanding team.
“Hopefully we can do it next season because they’re not going anywhere. I’ve a feeling that we won’t go anywhere either.”