Liverpool news: Klopp and Benitez teams compared by Champions League hero Vladimir Smicer

That is the view of one of the heroes of that famous night in Istanbul, Vladimir Smicer, who says his former team were never consistent enough to win the Premier League.

The 2005 Champions League final will go down in history as one of the greatest footballing comebacks of all time after a Steven Gerrard-inspired Reds came back from 3-0 down at half-time to beat AC Milan on penalties.

And Smicer was a big part of the evening. After Gerrard’s header reduced the deficit, Smicer unleashed a fierce 25-yarder past Milan keeper Dida.

A crazy six-minute spell was complete when Xabi Alonso restored parity and the contest stayed level all the way through the rest of the game and extra-time.

Liverpool news: Klopp and Benitez teams compared by Champions League hero Vladimir Smicer (Pic: GETTY)

“I think, especially going forward, there are better options than we had in our time”

Vladimir Smicer

Smicer then scored Liverpool’s final spot-kick in the shootout before Andriy Shevchenko missed his to hand a fifth European Cup to Liverpool.

It was Benitez’s finest hour as Reds boss and one of the club’s greatest nights but he was never able to bring the club success in the top flight.

Apart from the one season where the Spaniard managed a runners-up spot in the Premier League, he had to make do with mainly third and fourth place finishes throughout his six year stint as boss.

It was never going to be easy to lift the title with Manchester United still in full flight under Sir Alex Ferguson and Chelsea dominating with Roman Abramovich at the helm, but Smicer says that the team back then was just never good enough to do it over 38 games.

Gerrard

Liverpool news: Klopp and Benitez teams compared by Champions League hero Vladimir Smicer (Pic: GETTY)

And the Czech sees a difference in the current Liverpool team and thinks they have a great chance to end 29 years of hurt this season.

Klopp has overseen the club’s best ever start to a season ever and after 23 games has the Reds four points clear of current champions Manchester City at the top of the pile.

“I think, especially going forward, there are better options than we had in our time – not because there was a pressure on Stevie G but I think in the depth, this is one of the strongest teams that Liverpool have at the moment,” he told The New Paper.

“The three up front, (Roberto) Firmino, (Sadio) Mane and (Mohamed) Salah, connect so well with one another that it gives confidence to the midfield and (Virgil) van Dijk at the back reminds me a bit of Sami Hyypia. He’s so important in his dominance.

Gerrard

Liverpool news: Klopp and Benitez teams compared by Champions League hero Vladimir Smicer (Pic: GETTY)

“With him and Alisson (Becker) in goal, I just feel that the team are complete and it’s hard to beat that.

“When we were playing, we were not strong enough to be as consistent as these guys now.

“To be honest, from them I feel now a real power that they can win the league. When we played, we were always missing something. We were not strong enough or good enough to win the league.”

And Smicer thinks that his former team are much more rounded compared with last season, offering more of a threat over a consistent period of time.

Salah

Liverpool news: Klopp and Benitez teams compared by Champions League hero Vladimir Smicer (Pic: GETTY)

Klopp spent close to £175m on new players in the summer to add much-needed strength in depth to the squad.

He added: “Last season they played some fantastic football, they made the Champions League final; they had so many great games. Even the final, when (Gareth) Bale scored his overhead kick, it was unlucky for us because he can score so many goals like this.

“But I knew that the team are already good and I think Liverpool had a really good summer when they bought Alisson, (Naby) Keita, Fabinho, (Xherdan) Shaqiri.

“That was really important, what they did, because they kept all the best players and they’ve shown quality.

Klopp

Liverpool news: Klopp and Benitez teams compared by Champions League hero Vladimir Smicer (Pic: GETTY)

Van Dijk

Liverpool news: Klopp and Benitez teams compared by Champions League hero Vladimir Smicer (Pic: GETTY)

“Now Klopp has got the depth in the squad and that’s why I think we’re playing so well. There’s more pressure on playing well because there are many players that can play, even on the bench.

“The squad are really strong so, even if somebody is a little bit tired or injured, he can replace him straight away and doesn’t affect the game or the performance of the team. They are really consistent – that’s important.

“If you want to win the Premier League, you need to be consistent and not only playing in the big games.

“Sometimes the smaller games, you need to win them. So far they’re doing well and it’s really a pleasure to watch them.”

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