Real Madrid will be targeting a third successive UEFA Champions League title on Saturday when they clash with a Liverpool outfit in search of their first since 2005.
UEFA Champions League
Date: 26 May 2018
Kick-off: 20H45 (GMT+2)
Venue: NSK Olimpijs’kyj, Kiev
Referee: M. Mažić
Assistants: M. Ristić, D. Đurđević
Fourth official: C. Turpin
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Real Madrid 4 2 0 2
Liverpool 4 2 0 2
Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool 04/11/14 (Champions League)
Real Madrid goalscorers: K. Benzema (27′)
Players to watch:
All eyes will be on Real’s superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been in sensational form in Europe this season. The Portuguese has scored a staggering 15 goals in only 12 Champions League games this campaign and will be determined to grab a fifth winners’ medal.
Mohamed Salah’s breakout season at Liverpool has drawn so many plaudits that comparisons to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have even been made. The Egyptian has amassed 44 foals in only 51 appearances across all competitions, including 10 in 12 Champions League fixtures.
Team form and manager quotes:
Los Merengues have proven themselves worthy title holders throughout this season’s Champions League campaign. The Spanish giants have endured a tough road to the final, beating Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and Bayern Munich in the knockout stage of the competition.
The Champions League also carries even more significance for Real manager Zinedine Zidane this season, due to his side’s disappointing showing on the domestic stage, where they saw arch-rivals Barcelona run away with the Primera Division title. Should Real fail to clinch a third consecutive European crown, Zidane’s position may come under massive scrutiny.
“This will probably be the hardest final we’ve ever had to play. We will have to be at our very best – we know that – and on all levels, not just physical,” Zidane told his press conference.
“They’re an English team, so they will never give up, but they don’t just rely on their physical attributes. Liverpool are also good technically, with a lot of speed and great individual players.”
Meanwhile, the Reds’ presence in the final comes as somewhat of a surprise to most, considering they have not reached this stage of the competition since 2007, when they lost to AC Milan and finished fourth in the Premier League this past season.
Nonetheless, Jurgen Klopp’s charges no doubt have enough weapons in their team to hurt the Galacticos and potentially clinch their first Champions League title since the dramatic comeback win over Milan in 2005.
Klopp told the press: “There are many reasons why we are where we are right now, and I’m immensely proud of what the boys have achieved. We aren’t anyone else.
“We are Liverpool, on the way to becoming a really good team, and performing at such a high level is very cool. It’s been a crazy ride but, after all, we’ve earned our place here.”
Real Madrid are expected to have a fully fit squad from which to pick their starting XI for the clash.
Liverpool will be missing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joe Gomez, and Joel Matip, while Emre Can is a doubt due to a back injury.