It’s the day. THE day. The day of the 2018 Champions League final and Liverpool Football Club are in the biggest game of the club footballing calendar. Here’s the one and only Anthony (@anthonymarkmcav) with the big game preview.
DATE: MAY 26, 2018
WHERE: OLIMPIYSKY NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX
WHO: REAL MADRID VS LIVERPOOL
TIME: 19:45 (GMT)
There’s no new injury news for Liverpool going into the Champions League final, with the only change to the squad being the reintroduction of Emre Can to the first team squad after his miraculous recovery from injury in time for the final. James Milner should also be in the squad following his absence from the squad in the final game of the season at home to Brighton.
Our three long-term absentees are Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and they all remain out indefinitely.
Zinedine Zidane has a fully fit squad to chose from ahead of the Champions League final despite prior doubts that Cristiano Ronaldo may have injury problems. He returned to action a couple of weeks ago, due to his inhuman, John Cena-level recovering ability.
Jurgen Klopp has quite a few options for the team to face Madrid but I don’t think it’ll be anything out of the ordinary from the German.
Adam Lallana is looking to be in the best physical condition that he has been for some time but I doubt he breaks into the starting lineup and with Emre Can seemingly off to Juventus in the coming weeks, it would be an injustice for him to walk back into the side in a game of this magnitude.
The front three and even the defence pick themselves. Making it a full changed XI versus the eleven that played against Real Madrid in November 2014, just four years ago.
Liverpool: Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum; Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas, Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Key Battle: Cristiano Ronaldo vs Trent Alexander-Arnold
At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold must feel like the world is truly coming down on his shoulders as he prepares what could be the biggest game of his career when it’s hardly begun. He’ll come up against one of the true greatest footballers of all-time in Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday and if Liverpool stand a chance of winning the young scouser is going to have to do a ridiculous job of keeping the Portuguese winger quiet.
It’s improbable but there definitely no putting it past our young right-back getting the job done. He’s done it before, he’s pocketed Martial and Sane and other top level players but as everyone knows when it comes to the Champions League, there’s none quite like Ronaldo.
This year’s Champions League final is bathed in history, omens and everything that makes Liverpool Football Club tick.
The last time we faced Madrid, we lost 1-0 at the Bernabeu, the time before that (in the same group stage) it was a 3-0 loss at Anfield.
A 5-0 aggregate win in the 2008/09 Champions League was a highlight in recent Red history, with Yossi Benayoun scoring a famous goal at the Bernabeu to give the Reds a 1-0 advantage going into a second leg tie at Anfield in which Liverpool won 4-0.
The only other time the two sides have faced off in competitive competition is the 1981 European Cup final with Liverpool squeaking a 1-0 win.
With 3 wins to 2, history slightly favours the Reds, but in the Champions League and especially in the final, all history goes out of the window.
Klopp to the top
Jurgen Klopp has history of beating Real. His Dortmund side did the unthinkable against Los Blancos and managed to come away with a two-legged semi-final win which included a 4-1 win over Real.
That game was wondrous with Robert Lewandowski battering the Real Madrid defence scoring all four goals.
If Salah can act as the same sort of talisman and score four goals, not only would Liverpool win the Champions League but he’d also surpass Ian Rush’s goalscoring record of 47 goals in a season in all competitions for Liverpool.
I can’t objectively give a prediction as my head is just about to fall off. So to quote WhoScored.com’s prediciton:
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.
Be arsed with that, Liverpool to win 4-0.