Two historic clubs go head-to-head in Kiev for the right to be crowned European champion. Will Real Madrid complete a historic three-peat? Or will Liverpool finish off a stunning ascent?
The eyes of the football world will be glued on the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev on Saturday night as two historic clubs in Liverpool and Real Madrid contest the 26th Champions League final.
Zinedine Zidane’s all-conquering Real Madrid are looking to make history by winning the iconic trophy for a third year in a row. In order for this to happen though, this will have to see off Jurgen Klopp’s free-scoring Liverpool side, who are looking to pick up the big cup for the sixth time in their illustrious history, after a swashbuckling European campaign.
Los Blancos will head into the match in Kiev as the favorites, with Liverpool being the slight underdogs for the final – which is probably exactly how the Reds want it.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s showdown:
Recently, Real Madrid’s domestic form has been inconsistent at best. The Spanish giants surrendered a two-goal lead against Villarreal on the final La Liga match of the season, leaving Zidane’s side with just one win in their last five games heading into the final.
Since beating Roma is the Champions League semifinal, Liverpool’s form has dipped with one eye looking ahead to the big match in Kiev.
Two wins in their last six games does not read too well for Klopp’s men, but they did secure Champions League football for next season after a big win against Brighton on the last day of the Premier League season, as Mohamed Salah returned to goal-scoring form to secure the Premier League Golden Boot and record tally for a 38-game season.
Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool Champions League Group Stage (November 4, 2014)
This match will be remembered for then Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers leaving Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho on the substitute’s bench for the game at the Bernabeu.
Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the game as Real Madrid won a tame encounter 1-0. Liverpool also lost the reverse fixture 3-0 and failed to qualify out of the group phase. If nothing else, Saturday should show just how far Liverpool have come in three and a half years.
Zidane has a fully fit squad to fit choose from, with Dani Carvajal fit to return after missing the semifinal second leg against Bayern Munich.
Gareth Bale is also pushing for a start in the final. The Welshman has only started three Champions League games all season, but five goals in his last four starts suggests a timely return to form which may give him the edge to make the starting lineup ahead of Isco or Lucas Vazquez. Cristiano Ronaldo, after recovering from his ankle strain, will lead the line alongside Karim Benzema.
For Liverpool, they have received a massive boost heading into the final with both Emre Can and James Milner passed fit to play in Kiev.
Milner missed Liverpool’s match with Brighton last Sunday, while Emre Can has not played since March due to injury. A place on the bench is more likely for the German, due to his lack of game time of the past few months.
Liverpool-born teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold will complete an unbelievable season by starting at right back in Kiev, after being used in more advanced roles in the last couple of Premier League games.
The final promises to be a thrilling contest between two giants of European football. Both Real Madrid and Liverpool boast so much attacking talent (not least Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo) that goals should be a guarantee in Kiev.
Madrid will be looking for their Portuguese star to stamp his authority all over the final and if this happens, Real will have every chance of winning their third consecutive Champions League.
The experience Real Madrid have in finals could give the Spanish club the edge, but Liverpool’s bold and energetic approach to their football just may be too much for this Madrid team to handle.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-3 Liverpool