Fans are gathering in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for the biggest event in the footballing calendar – the European Champions League final.
This year’s tournament concludes with a match between reigning champions Real Madrid and English side Liverpool.
A win for Liverpool would mean their sixth European Cup trophy and a Real triumph would secure their thirteenth overall and third on the trot.
The game pits Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp against Real’s Frenchman Zinedine Zidane in their first fixture against one another.
Zidane has won the tournament twice, with the Spanish side on both occasions. Klopp failed to win his 2013 final against German side Bayern Munich when he was managing Borussia Dortmund.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 26, 2018
Liverpool have met Real Madrid in the European Cup final just once before. A late goal from Liverpool’s Alan Kennedy in the 1981 bout was enough to secure the English side a 1-0 win.
Few are betting on such a low-scoring encounter this year.
Liverpool and Real Madrid are the tournaments two top-scoring teams with 40 and 30 goals respectively.
|Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 Champions League goals so far this season [Kai Pfaffenbach/Al Jazeera]|
Klopp’s men swept aside English champions Manchester City in the quarter-finals, winning the tie 5-1 over both legs, and their seven goals against Roma over two legs were enough to survive a late fightback by the Italians.
Liverpool’s three-man strike force of Egyptian Mohamed Salah, Brazilian Roberto Firmino, and Senegalese Sadio Mane, have picked up 29 of their goals in the tournament.
Salah and Firmino are the club’s top scorers in the competition with 10 goals each.
They are looking to get the better of a Real Madrid behemoth, which has seen off European giants Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and Bayern Munich.
— Real Madrid C.F. ⚽️ (@realmadrid) May 25, 2018
The Madrid side’s key striker, Cristiano Ronaldo is widely regarded alongside Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, as one of the greatest players of his generation.
The Portuguese stars 15 goals so far in the tournament should be enough to finish as top scorer regardless of whether he scores at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium.
But in his opponents on Saturday, he finds a 25-year-old with the potential to replace him on the peak of European football.
After an unremarkable stint at Chelsea, Mohamed Salah is on the cusp of footballing legend, having trailblazed his way to the English Premier League’s Golden Boot with 32 goals.
A match-winning performance in Ukraine will secure his position in Anfield lore and ensure his status as one of Europe’s most prized players for years to come.
|Mohamed Salah trains before tonight’s clash in Kiev [Kai Pfaffenbach/Al Jazeera]|
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