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He left Liverpool for Real Madrid aged just 24 after scoring 158 goals in a staggering 297 games.
The Reds would go on to beat AC Milan the following season in a European Cup classic at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul after going down 3–0 at half-time.
But for Michael Owen, the hotly anticipated clash between Liverpool and Los Blancos on Saturday for the Champions League crown at the Stade de France won’t be such a close affair.
Michael Owen left Liverpool for Real Madrid aged just 24 after scoring 158 goals in a staggering 297 games
Liverpool survived a huge scare in Spain to reach the final after a dismal first-half performance that saw Villarreal level the tie 2-2 on aggregate
Speaking exclusively to Sportsmail ahead of the game, Owen says: ‘I think Liverpool are better than Madrid and they could blow them away. 3-1 or 3-0 is my prediction.
‘I think they could beat them reasonably convincingly because they are an exceptional team at the minute and are too good for Madrid.’
Real pulled off another miraculous comeback to save themselves against Manchester City in the semi-final and Karim Benzema broke Chelsea’s hearts in the quarter-final.
‘Madrid have just done phenomenally well to get to the final,’ Owen continues.
Owen scored against Barcelona in a 4-2 El Classico victory during the 2004-05 season
‘I’m sure they believe their name is on the title what with scrapping through the group stage and then of course Chelsea was incredible how they got through that. Manchester City was just mind-blowing how they beat them as well.
‘But I think Liverpool are so experienced and so good. They won’t want to get into a grind with them because I think Madrid are the ultimate team when it comes to know-how and winning close games.’
Despite being booed at Anfield when he returned from LaLiga with Newcastle United, the club he joined from Madrid, Owen’s loyalty still lies firmly with Liverpool.
‘Everyone knows I spent half my life at Liverpool. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great year, met some great people and had just the most wonderful experience.
Real pulled off another miraculous comeback to save themselves against Manchester City in the semi-final and Karim Benzema broke Chelsea’s hearts in the quarter-final
‘It was a massive honour to play in that white shirt in that stadium and I loved every minute of it. But I of course favour Liverpool.’
We’ve been here before with these two. First, back in 1981, with the Reds winning 1-0. More recently in 2018, when Madrid emerged victorious via a 3-1 score-line in Kyiv.
So how will this meeting pan out? Owen warns Jürgen Klopp’s men that Vinícius Jr could be a ‘weapon’ for Los Blancos.
‘I think Liverpool will probably have a lot of the ball because I think Madrid will be keen to prevent spaces in behind them for the likes of Salah and Mane to run into.
‘But I also think they will want to sit deep to actually encourage Liverpool to play that high line and then try to exploit it on the counter-attack.
‘Any opponent will be looking at Liverpool and thinking the way we can beat them is to try and get in behind them.
‘When Trent Alexander-Arnold moves forward, they’ve got Vinícius that could really hurt Liverpool in that position.
‘Everybody does the same thing and everyone tries it. Whether you can actually do it is another matter.
‘No question Madrid will be looking at Liverpool’s high line, they’ll be looking at Trent going forward a lot and they’ll be thinking Vinícius is going to be a weapon.’
So is this Liverpool side currently the best team in the world? ‘I think it’s one of the best teams ever,’ Owen claims
‘I think Ancelotti will try to expose that area and Vinícius will be one of their key components,’ Owen adds.
‘Benzema is in great form of course, but I think it’s in behind and Vinícius’s pace that they might try to exploit.
‘Liverpool play a very similar way no matter what, similar formation, and I don’t think there will be any surprises from Liverpool.
‘They’ll play exactly how they normally play and it’s normally good enough to win.
‘Madrid are more likely to want it to be a tactical affair and I definitely expect them to be a counter-attacking team.’
Liverpool survived a huge scare in Spain to reach the final after a dismal first-half performance that saw Villarreal level the tie 2-2 on aggregate.
Owen warns Jürgen Klopp’s men that Vinícius Jr could be a ‘weapon’ for Los Blancos
But the 2001 Ballon d’Or winner still believes Liverpool have enough in their armoury to outgun Real Madrid as long as they contain Benzema and Vinícius Jr.
‘Benzema’s had the most phenomenal season and he seems better than ever even though he’s 34.
‘I would expect Diaz to play. I think he’s played himself into the team. These type of games are set up for Mo Salah.
‘At the back you’ve got to be really careful. A lot of emphasis is put on the defenders of Liverpool because they play this high risk, high reward game and they do expose themselves.
‘The likes of Virgil van Dijk, he’s got pace and can get himself out of any trouble as well.
The 2001 Ballon d’Or winner believes Liverpool have enough in their armoury to outgun Real Madrid as long as they contain Benzema and Vinícius Jr
‘I think if they can control Benzema and Vinícius, then Liverpool have got far too many good players.’
So is this Liverpool side currently the best team in the world? ‘I think it’s one of the best teams ever,’ Owen claims.
‘If Liverpool win the Champions League, three trophies and a minuscule away from winning a forth, I don’t think there’s ever been a team, certainly in England, that’s been so good in one season.
‘This is the best Liverpool team I have ever seen and they’ve had some good teams over the years, but this one is quite exceptional and led by an exceptional manager.’
Watch BT Sport’s exclusive coverage of the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool v Real Madrid live from the Stade de France from 6pm on Saturday 28th May. For more info, visit btsport.com