His Reds team may have overturned a three-goal halftime deficit to win the Champions League but Dalian Yifang manager, Rafa Benitez believes the Liverpool team he steered to victory that time, does not possess the same quality Jurgen Klopp currently has in his squad.
Benitez became the first Liverpool manager to lift the European Cup since 1984 when the Reds beat AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul, while Klopp won his first trophy in June with a victory against Tottenham to lift the club’s sixth European Cup.
In a recent interview with The Athletic the former Newcastle manager was asked to compare the two squads, and Benitez was confident that this generation of Liverpool players were paces ahead of the team he managed.
‘I’m really proud of what we achieved in 2005, but I have to say that the 2019 team is stronger already,’ Benitez said.
‘The team that we had, what we had at this time was great team effort and a lot of character, as well as commitment on the pitch. This team have the intensity and the quality that can make the difference in games.’
Benitez’s Liverpool team at the time boasted a lot of quality players including the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Luis Garcia, Xabi Alonso, and Harry Kewell.
Benitez also disclosed what he told his players when they were 3-0 down at half-time against Milan.
He added: ‘The message was clear: Give them some hope, some confidence, tell them that if we score one goal we will be back in the game, and change the tactics to three at the back and two holding midfielders, to control Kaka between the lines with Hamann and Alonso.
‘After we were lucky enough to score goals in a short period and that was a plus for everyone because we grew in confidence, little by little.’