Red-hot Liverpool look to put a stop to Real Madrid’s dominance


The stage is set. After 8 months of scintillating football displayed by 32 teams in Europe, we are left with two of the best. Liverpool will battle the European giants Real Madrid on Saturday, May 26 for a chance to be named Europe’s best club for the 2017-18 season. 

 

This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Will they be writing history once again, three in a row? We will have to wait till Saturday for this.

Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real Madrid in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner; this is the last time the two sides have met in a European final.

With 70 goals scored between them in the Champions League this season, Saturday’s game promises to be a cracker.

The Reds have blown away almost all of their Champions League opponents this season, flying past Porto, Manchester City and AS Roma in the knockout stages to book their place in Kiev. Although they face a Real Madrid side looking to lift the trophy for the third season in a row, Liverpool will be confident of emerging victorious.

Talking about the Spanish giants, although they only finished third in La Liga this term, no team in recent years has specialized in European competition like Los Blancos. They have won three of the last four crowns and come into the final with a lot of experience. Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final.

Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo are likely to play a key role at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, boasting a remarkable 88 goals between them during 2017-18.

Ronaldo endured a tough first half of the campaign but has arguably never been in better scoring form after a red-hot streak early in 2018.

The same can be said for Salah, who is certainly banishing the demons on a miserable spell with Chelsea in 2014 by scoring 44 goals in his debut campaign with Liverpool.

Who will lift Europe’s most precious club trophy, Egyptian Pharaoh – Salah or Portuguese King – Ronaldo?

One thing we can expect for sure are goals, goals and more goals.

Jurgen Klopp known for his outright attacking gameplay will definitely want to make this final memorable. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. The Reds last appearance in a UCL final was in 2007 against AC Milan and 11 years in time they will want to win a sixth European title, come Saturday. 

Zinedine Zidane has never lost a European final during his time at the club and he is only the second manager to win back-to-back European titles. The legendary Zizou continues to make history even in his coaching career.

Well until a few weeks ago, we could expect Zidane to start with Isco in the finals but a recent boost of form for Gareth Bale will keep him in a dilemma before he finalizes his final squad. Without a doubt, Ronaldo will be the man of the hour and he will want to finish the season winning the most prestigious European Club trophy.

A win against the most formidable Champions League opponent of all, Real Madrid, pursuing a 13th win and third in a row, would be the ultimate recompense for recent let-downs. Klopp knows that Zinedine Zidane’s side have the experience and know-how, but the prestige of both clubs ensures there will be no inferiority complex. This will be a memorable final indeed for all.

 

Predicted lineup

Liverpool (4-3-3): Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

 

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Casemiro; Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema

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