Rafael Benitez has suggested that Liverpool are capable of repeating their Champions League victory in 2005 again this season.
In 2005, Liverpool fought back from 3-0 down en route to beating AC Milan on penalties. The final of the 2021 Champions League is also due to take place in Istanbul.
Jurgen Klopp’s side booked their place in the quarter-finals of this year’s competition with a 3-0 aggregate victory over RB Leipzig.
The Reds have been drawn to play Real Madrid in the last eight. If they advance, they will face Chelsea or Porto in the semi-finals.
Benitez told The Mail that Liverpool “for sure” are capable of lifting the Champions League at the end of this season:
“Liverpool has the potential and the manager, it’s not a problem.
“I think Liverpool can do the same and go to the final obviously. AC Milan was a great team but the team was growing in confidence because in these knock-out competitions we could do it.”
When Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005, they were struggling in the Premier League. Benitez believes there are similarities between then and this campaign.
He added: “The Evertonians, when they talk about this year, that season we played the final of the Carling Cup in February, then your team is focussed on a final and then you lose the focus on the league.
“And after you are focused on Juventus and then Chelsea. And I remember I was really, really upset when we lost against Birmingham [in February] when Everton lost and we were pushing the team and we couldn’t manage.
“We lost this game. Ah, I cannot believe it! And we lost the top four position. Everton had a great season and it’s because we were distracted. I can understand a team that is not doing so well, [that] you can have this distraction.”
Benitez also suggested that his former side were not “lucky” to lift the European cup in 2005:
He continued: “People talk about Istanbul like we were lucky. But we were not lucky to win the Champions League because we played against Juventus [in the quarter finals], which was a top side.
“What we did was change the system because they were playing with Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Alessandro Del Piero up front and Pavel Nedved behind. So, we put the three centre backs and the two wings back and we played 5-3-1-1 against a 5-3-2.
“Tactically we had to adapt to a very difficult opponent and then because we did well, the confidence was growing and growing. And we played Chelsea, at this time it was the best team maybe in Europe for sure in England [but] our team had so much confidence that tactically we could manage.
“We were a team with belief.”