In little over a weeks away, we are about to witness the most high profile and engaging UEFA Champions League finals to be held in NSC Olympiyskiy Stadium in Kiev , Ukraine where back to back defending champions Real Madrid will defend the trophy against Liverpool FC. Ironically these two teams didn’t even finish amongst the top two in their respective leagues.
Real Madrid is into their fourth Champions League finals in five years and continues to show their dominance in European football. If they win, they will complete a hattrick of titles. The Real Madrid team boast of superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos,Sergio Ramos, Marcelo etc. who are all at the peak of their careers and are consistently performing well at the highest stage. Although 33, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to dominate world football with ease. He not only scored goals a plenty and but scored at crucial juncture of the game which aided his team to qualify for the finals defeating teams like Paris Saint Germain,Juventus and Bayern Munich in the knock out phases. His team mates like Kross,Isco,Bale,Marcelo are all having an outstanding season with the club. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas, probably the most underrated player of the team has been in incredible form and has come the team’s rescue by pulling up crucial saves in key matches during whole of the season. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, the two central defenders have been consistent performers for the team and has done exceedingly well in the last two knockout phases versus Juventus and Bayern Munich. Zinedine Zidane, their head coach, will tweak his winning team combination that he used in his last Champions League outing against Bayern Munich at home. The changes could be a resurgent Gareth Bale replacing Asensio,Isco in for Kovacic and Carvajal for Lucas Vazquez. The probable playing eleven is depicted below.
After taking over from Brenden Rogers, Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool from an average team to a world beater. Klopp’s Liverpool plays a pressing game and utilise the counter attacks better than any other teams in Europe. Their main catalyst to this aspect of gameplay is none other than the Egyptian Messi, Mohammed Salah. He is in the form of his life and not only has scored more than 40 goals this season but also has a dozen assist to his credit. He has an incredible chemistry with his fellow forwards, Brazialian Roberto Firmino and Senegalese Sadio Mane. The trio can rip apart any defence with ease. Their attacking pace and intricate passing game bamboozles opponents. The midfield has also been in fine form with Captain Jordan Henderson, James Miliner, Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can all performing well. Although Emre Can and Oxlade Chamberlain are severly injured they have able back up in Adam Lallana and Ben Woodburn. The back four in Robertson, Lovren,Van Dijk and Trent Alexender Arnold are in a spot of bother after conceding six goals to Roma in two legs. One decision of Jurgen Klopp that has helped the team immensely and that is he has stopped rotating his goalkeepers between Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius. Mignolet has not started a game since New Year’s Day and Karius has proved his selectors right by performing brilliantly between the sticks. Liverpool’s possible first eleven is given below.
We all hope to see a very intense match. It is a certainty that Liverpool will come out all guns blazing and will try to disrupt Real Madrid’s dominant midfield. The forward trio of Mane,Firmino and Salah is already giving Ramos and company sleepless nights. As a soccer lover, I would love to see the young team of Liverpool rip apart the tactical game play of Zidane’s Real Madrid. Although Real Madrid has too much power all over compared to Liverpool, I predict they will be trounced by the raw attacking prowess of Liverpool. My prediction is “Liverpool 2- Real Madrid 1”.