Champions League final preview: Real Madrid and Liverpool vie for European crown

Twelve-time champions Real Madrid are looking to lift the trophy for the third year in a row, but to do so they will need to stop a free-scoring Liverpool outfit who are bidding for their first European crown since 2005 and their sixth overall.

Real Madrid chase the record and unprecedented hat-trick of Champions League silverwares in order to cement their status as the best side in the history of the competition. Zinedine Zidane’s outfit had had a generally dismal campaign in domestic league where they gave up the title contest way too early in the season. Nevertheless, the huge deficit to fierce rivals Barcelona could be forgotten with the new UCL trophy and a win over Liverpool in the huge final on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp has reasons to be satisfied with the huge rise his men showed this season (compared to the last term) and the Champions League final came just as a reward for the spectacular campaign the Reds’ attacking trio has had this year.

Possible line-ups:

Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modrić, Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema

Liverpool: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum; Mané, Firmino, Salah

Focus:

Real Madrid are looking to land a third successive Champions League success when they face Liverpool in Kyiv in a repeat of the 1981 final in Paris. That was the last time Real Madrid lost at this stage of the competition as they look to land a 13th European cup, but their form coming into this one has been a tad iffy. Los Blancos have won only one of their last five competitive outings, yet have won five of their six away Champions League matches away from the Bernabeu.

Liverpool will face Real Madrid for the sixth time in the competition on Saturday and have won three of the last five meetings between the two. However, Real Madrid have won their last two Champions League meetings between the two sides, both of which came in the group stages in the 2014/15 season. The Reds have also won only one of their last four competitive outings and have kept just two clean sheets in their last six outings.

Considering both sides’ fluid attack, yet indifferent defence, goals are expected in this one, yet Real Madrid’s final experience should see them over the line here.

Recent form guide

19/05: Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid (Martínez 70, Castillejo 85; Bale 11, Ronaldo 32)

13/05: Liverpool 4-0 Brighton (Salah 26, Lovren 40, Solanke 53, Robertson 85)

Last ten games (most recent first):

Madrid: DWLDDWWDWL

Liverpool: WLLDWDWWDW

Real Madrid vs Liverpool: Head-to-head

Sides have two wins each coming into their fifth head to head encounter.

Liverpool won 5-0 on aggregate in the last 16 round of the same competition nine years ago.

Madrid got the revenge in the group stage of the 2014/15 campaign when they won both ties against Liverpool (4-0 goal difference in the process).

Did you know?

Ronaldo could become the first player to win this competition five times in the UEFA Champions League era.

Klopp has lost his last five major finals as a manager.

Sergio Ramos helped Spain win UEFA EURO 2012 at this same stadium.

This is Real Madrid’s 16th appearance in a European Cup/Champions League final, more than any other side in the history of the competition.

Indeed, they’ve won it a record 12 times, losing only in 1962 (vs Benfica), 1964 (vs Inter) and 1981 (vs Liverpool).

This is Liverpool’s eighth European Cup/Champions League final, three more than any other English side.

Liverpool have lost just two of their previous seven finals in the competition, vs Juventus in 1985 and their most recent one against Milan in 2007.

Real Madrid are the first team since Juventus (1996-1998) to reach three consecutive European Cup/Champions League finals, while they could become the first team to win it three years in a row since Bayern Munich (1974-1976).

 

This will be a repeat of the 1981 European Cup final, which Liverpool won 1-0 thanks to an Alan Kennedy goal. It will be the third final to have been played in the competition as both the European Cup and Champions League, following Ajax vs Juventus and Ajax vs Milan.

That 1981 final was the last time Real Madrid lost the showpiece – they’ve won each of their six finals since then, all in the Champions League (1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016 and 2017).

Spanish sides have won their last six major European finals against English sides (excluding Super Cups), most recently Sevilla beating Liverpool in the 2016 Europa League. However, Liverpool were the last English side to beat a Spanish side in a final, triumphing 5-4 over Alaves in the 2001 UEFA Cup.

Prediction: Real Madrid 3-2 Liverpool

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