Liverpool faces Real Madrid on Saturday in Paris in the UEFA Champions League final. The Reds have lifted Europe’s premier competition on six occasions whilst Los Blancos have 13 crowns to their name. The sides faced off in Kiev in 2018 final as Madrid took a victory in a match where Mohammed Salah went off injured and in tears. These sides faced off in last year’s quarter-finals as Vinicius Jr. inspired a 3-1 home win for Real before a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield.
The Reds come into this match on a run of one loss in their last 34 matches. They’ve already lifted the Carabao Cup and FA Cup and can complete a treble in this final. The side have won 15 of their last 18 matches and their last 19 Premier League matches brought 16 wins and three draws.
To reach this stage, Liverpool have a relatively kind draw. Having topped their group, they went to Inter Milan and won 2-0 in the first leg before a complacent 1-0 home defeat in the second leg. Benfica in the quarter-finals saw a 3-1 away victory, allowing mass resting at Anfield in a 3-3 draw. The semi-finals saw a 2-0 home win against Villarreal. The second leg had the Yellow Submarine 2-0 up at half-time but Klopp’s team won the match 3-2 in the end.
Liverpool Team News
Jurgen Klopp has doubts over what would be two certain starters. Fabinho is likely to overcome his hamstring injury to start against his former club whilst Thiago Alcantara is also expected to shake off an injury to play. Jordan Henderson should complete that trio with Naby Keita on standby.
In attack, Luis Diaz is set to get the nod over Diogo Jota, who will join Roberto Firmino on the bench. Virgil Van Dijk will return to start at centre-back alongside one of Joel Matip or Ibrahima Konate. Joe Gomez is a doubt for this match whilst Divock Origi is ruled out.
The Reds are hugely motivated for this match and with the chance to complete a treble. Ending their push for a quadruple with just two domestic cups would feel like a slight disappointment of a season. 2018 final is something Liverpool, and especially Mohamed Salah, will want to avenge.
Expect a high defensive line and an intent to dominate possession and the match. They may be some extra concern given to covering the right flank defensively against Vinicius Jr.
Real Madrid Form
Los Blancos had the hardest possible route to this final. They beat PSG, Chelsea, and Man City as all three times they turned around losing positions at home to progress to aggregate. PSG dominated Real Madrid for arguably three halves out of four and the same could apply to Chelsea. City were in control throughout before three late goals to win 3-1 in the second leg.
Real Madrid secured the La Liga title by beating Espanyol 4-0 and have since rested players with this final in mind. Their last four matches since the 3-1 win against Man City have seen one defeat (1-0 at Atletico Madrid with numerous players rested) and then one win in three. Levante were thrashed 6-0 before a 1-1 draw at Cadiz. Their last match brought a 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis.
Real Madrid Team News
David Alaba is back in training after a groin problem and should start, despite Nacho having a superb game against Man City in the semi-final second leg. Eduardo Camavinga is set to remain on the bench despite his big impact as a sub during the quarter and semi-finals.
The big choice is between Fede Valverde and Rodrygo down the right flank. The latter has scored freely in this season’s UEFA Champions League but the former brings energy and defensive nous. Former Premier League players Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale are set to be on the bench.
Real Madrid Motivation
Carlo Ancelotti has made his fifth Champions League and will be desperate to win. This season would be seen as only okay if they lose in this showpiece with some inconsistent form throughout.
The experienced coach knows his side can’t press high nor do anything except defend quite deep, due to an aging midfield.
Counter attacks and slow, patient build-up play are expected. If on the bench, Rodrygo is a big game-turning option, as is Camavinga.
Liverpool have won 10 of their 12 CL matches this season
The last 6 goals LFC have conceded have been the first goal in the match
Liverpool have scored 2+ goals in 11 of their last 12 CL matches
Real Madrid have won 4 of their last 5 matches against Liverpool (D1)
Real have seen over 2.5 goals in 9 of their last 11 CL matches
Real Madrid have scored 2+ goals in 8 of their last 10 CL matches
Both of these sides have scored freely in the Champions League all season. Madrid are five unbeaten against Liverpool with four wins and should have a real belief from how they turned around ties against teams like PSG, Chelsea, and Man City. However, Liverpool looks imperious and should have the ruthlessness not to miss a plethora of clear chances like Madrid’s three knockout stage opponents did.
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