The 2018 Champions League final features two teams who enjoy great pedigree in the competition, as Real Madrid and Liverpool share 17 titles between them. Real Madrid may appear to have breezed through into the final with none of the matches involving extra time, but Zinedine Zidane’s men had a tougher road. Los Blancos had to overcome the likes of PSG, Juventus, and Bayern Munich in order to reach a third successive final. Meanwhile, Liverpool have faced teams like FC Porto, Manchester City, and Roma on the way to the final.
Real Madrid Preview
A Champions League crown would be a nice way for Real Madrid to overcome memories of a disastrous league campaign. Even though Madrid may appear to have had it easy in Europe, they have had to come through a number of scares over the course of the campaign. PSG seemed in far better shape when they travelled to the Santiago Bernabeu in February, but Madrid were able to raise their game when the very least expected. Against Juventus, however, Madrid were quite fortunate to hear the final whistle. The Italians were strong over the two legs and could have easily toppled Madrid.
Interestingly, no team has been able to win the Champions League in three consecutive campaigns, but then Real Madrid went into last year’s final looking to retain the title for the first time in history.
Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to be a major doubt for the final, but the Portuguese recovered from his niggling injuries. Zidane used the 33-year-old for just over an hour during the weekend’s draw with Villarreal.
Meanwhile, Liverpool head into the game as the most successful English team when it comes to European competitions even if the club’s last Champions League success was in 2005. Manager Jurgen Klopp has transformed the fortunes of players like Mohamed Salah. Yet, the German continues to be hit by his unwanted record when it comes to finals; Klopp may have been into six cup finals in his managerial career but those six games have yielded just one win. Even at Liverpool, Klopp has already lost two cup finals. Yet, the experience from those cup finals may come in handy for the Reds, who are seeking a sixth Champions League medal.
Mohamed Salah has undoubtedly been the star behind Liverpool’s renaissance. The Egyptian came to the club last summer and has scored a record number of Premier League goals in a single campaign, while he has more than 40 goals across all competitions this season. Even though his performances have taken a dip in recent weeks, Liverpool have more than enough attacking strength through the likes of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Jurgen Klopp will hope that Liverpool are a third time lucky in a cup final under his watch, but Real Madrid hold the upper hand in this tie. Los Blancos are substantially more experienced when it comes to dealing with such big matches. Zinedine Zidane has the aura when it comes to the Champions League and this has translated into the Madrid squad. Both teams are poor in terms of defence, but Madrid’s superior experience may help them get over the finishing line. The best bet would be to back a win for Real Madrid!
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