At quarter to eight on Saturday evening the Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid will kick off for the most sought-after trophy in club football. Both clubs have not had it easy in getting to Kiev, we will look at how the game may pan out and the players which will be key to both clubs.
Liverpool’s journey to the final has been relatively unscathed, however they did have a few minor scares, especially against Roma in their Semi Final tie, after demolishing Premier League Champions Man City 5 – 1 on aggregate in the previous round. However, Jürgen Klopp’s men can occasionally slip up and showed this against Roma in the first leg conceding two late goals as well as losing 4 – 2 in the second leg, with some careless and sloppy defending, something which Real Madrid could take advantage of in the final. For the majority of the season Liverpool have set up with a 4-3-3 formation, playing in a counter attacking style utilising their pacey front three of Mane, Firmino and Salah running in behind opposition defences causing havoc in the 18-yard box with Salah especially standing out, scoring 44 goals in all competitions and scooping numerous awards with the Egyptian likely to cause Real Madrid major problems. However, it’s Liverpool’s English midfielders in Henderson and Milner whom could be key, both playing holding roles and potentially could be essential in keeping Real Madrid’s engine room of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro quiet and with Milner having the most assists in the Champions League this season he could prove pivotal in providing Liverpool’s front three with the tools they need to deliver.
Real Madrid on the other hand have been in Barcelona’s shadow this season, losing out on the Copa Del Rey and La Liga to them, pressure is mounting on Zinedine Zidane to bring the European Cup back to the Bernabeu. Their Champions League campaign has been a little rocky but extremely resilient throughout, losing 3 – 1 to Spurs in the group stages, nearly being pegged back by Juventus in the quarter finals, before grinding out a result against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals getting to their third Champions League Final in the last three seasons. This season Los Blancos have played a variety of formations, but in their previous UCL game, they used a 4-1-4-1 formation with Casemiro playing an important role sitting in front of and protecting the defence. Obviously, Ronaldo has been extremely important this season, although many have questioned his form, even with him scoring 28 goals for Real Madrid in 2018, including a spectacular overhead kick against Juventus, which will surely get goal of the tournament. However, Real Madrid’s defence could be the key in winning this final and stopping Liverpool’s destructive front three, it is paramount that captain Sergio Ramos, who most definitely has an error in him, does not put his team in danger, with him currently holding the record for the most yellow cards in the Champions League.
Overall the final on Saturday is likely to start as a cagey affair with the game becoming more open as it goes on. In my opinion Real Madrid are a team of individuals compared to Liverpool, whose team comprises of 3 ex Southampton players, a Chelsea reject and a defender relegated to the Championship with Hull City, the spirit this Liverpool team have shown throughout the season has been something special and has glimpses of Istanbul 2005. I’m predicting Real Madrid will dominate possession and will go in front before the interval, but the speed Liverpool have going forward will be too much for Zidane’s men, opening the game up to suit Liverpool’s style of play with the Reds clinching the game 2 – 1, stopping Real Madrid from winning their third successive Champions League.
What is your prediction? Let us know in the comments below!