Toby Alderweireld has revealed that the Tottenham Hotspur players have been training like ‘animals’ in the build up to the Champions League final.
The Spurs defender has once before tasted defeat in European football’s most prestigious showpiece when he was part of the Atletico Madrid side which were leading 1-0 against Real Madrid only for Sergio Ramos to equalise 90 seconds before the end.
Real went on to win the game 4-1 in extra time and Alderweireld insists that he will harness the disappointment he felt at the Estadio da Luz and use it to show he is hungrier for success than anyone else on the pitch on Saturday night.
“We were so close to winning it,” Alderweireld told The Guardian.
“Ramos scored in the 90th minute or something so, yeah, the feeling of losing, not winning it, is very hard. I will take this feeling to the final and show I want it more than anyone else.”
Alderweireld feared that he would never get another chance to play in the final and is not planning on being at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium to make up the numbers.
“It is difficult [to deal with] because you are 25 years old,” he said when recalling the 2014 defeat to Madrid.
“That night I flew to Belgium because we had the World Cup coming up, so there was no time to grieve. Two days after I was playing Luxembourg in preparation for the World Cup. After the World Cup, when I had time to think about it, I thought it was a big chance, a big opportunity and maybe it will never come again. It was a strange moment.
“Everyone is saying it is unbelievable about Spurs getting to the final but we’re not happy with playing a final – we want to win it. That’s the mentality we need.”
Following the highs of the dramatic win in Amsterdam against Ajax, Spurs have been preparing for the clash with Liverpool by working themselves hard in training at Hotspur Way to arrive in the best condition.
“In the last couple of weeks we’ve been trying like animals,” added Alderweireld. “We’re trying to give our best every day because that is the way we need to work to be in the right state for the final. Everybody wants to be there, to be involved and give their best, and the final is not going to start on Saturday – it started two weeks ago.”
“I think we have quite a mature group so I don’t have to talk too much, but I think just to stay calm and do the normal things,” he added. “A lot of players have played in really big games, World Cups and stuff like this, so we know what to do. Of course, the tension will get more as the week goes on but we have the maturity in our group and that is not a problem.
“We have to be confident in our own game. The last game at Anfield [a 2-1 loss in March] we had a difficult start but in the second half we were better than them. We have to learn from that and have the confidence to play and put them under pressure. We don’t want to talk about or think too much about our opponents.”
While Alderweireld’s future at Spurs remains up in the air, it is refreshing to see just how hungry he is to win the match. He and the rest of the Spurs defence must be on top of their game this weekend to contain Liverpool’s attacking trio.
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