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Liverpool vs Real Madrid Preview: Everything You Need to Know Before this Weekend’s Champions League Final

It’s two days to the biggest and most anticipated football showdown on earth. For the first time since 1981, the two most decorated sides European Football will face-off in a mouth watering final to decide who takes home the elusive Champions League trophy.

Real Madrid is bidding for a third consecutive trophy while the minnows Liverpool are looking to dethrone defending champions Madrid and prove they are still England’s biggest club despite not winning the English Premier League in over two decades.

With the sides set to battle for Champions League glory this weekend, we take a look at the numbers behind their previous meetings, past European achievements, the tactics they might use and so much more.


Head to head History.


Liverpool 3

Real Madrid 2

Starting with head encounters, the Reds surprisingly lead Real Madrid with three games to two.

The two sides first met in the 1981 Paris final where the reds ran away with a close 1-0 thanks to an Allan Kennedy goal. Bob Paisley’s side was at the time unstoppable winning three European trophies in five years.

They faced off again three decades later in the Champions League round of 16 in the 2008-10 campaign. Rafael Benitez’s side once again silenced Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu and finished them off three days later with a 4-0 win.

It was a completely different story in the 2014-15 season. While defending their 10th champions league trophy, the Real Madrid side were a well oiled machine. They were too powerful for Liverpool and won both fixtures to see off Brendan Roger’s side.

Looking at the managers’ head to head encounters, unlike his counter-part Zinedine Zidane, the Liverpool gaffer has had an impressive record against the Spanish giants.

He faced Madrid six times during his tenure at Borrussia Dortmund and impressively won three games, drew two and lost two.


Real Madrid have not been as dominant as they were in the previous seasons when their attacking BBC trio (Bale, Benzima, Cristiano) was unstoppable.

Instead, the side now heavily relies on Cristiano Ronaldo’s brilliance, Luca Modric and Toni Kross’s flawless touches and a solid defensive line manned by Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

It will be intriguing to see what formation Zidane decides to use on Saturday. He might opt to test Liverpool’s inexperienced full backs, (Andy Robertson (24) and Alexander- Arnold (19)) by fielding a few extra wingers or pack the midfield like he did against Juventus.

Liverpool on the other hand have been re-born in Klop’s image. Klopp’s trademark gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

They have harassed their opponents and it’s no surprise they went on to break the Champions League’s scoring records. They however have to be cautious not go on the all out against a team that has such an attacking weaponry at their disposal.

Squad selections will definitely be easier for Klopp who has stuck with his attacking trio whenever he’s playing a tough side. On the other hand, Zidane will have selection headaches to decide who plays ahead of who. The young kids like Marco Asensio and Luca Vasquez have proved themselves this season while the old dogs like Benzima and Gareth Bale not only have more experience at a bigger stage but can also be relied upon to keep calm under such pressure.


Issues to Sort.

The back line (Liverpool).

The Liverpool backline need to show a bit more resilience going into this encounter. Basing on both team’s domestic performances, game is expected to be a goal galore and Liverpool’s back line will be a big deciding factor.

Virgil Van Dijk might have transformed Liverpool’s defense but the Red’s whole defense line has to step up their game if they are to contain Madrid’s relentless attacks.

Over Confidence. (Real Madrid)

After beating League one giants PSG, Serie A giants Juventus and Bundesliga giants Bayern on the way to the final, a team that finished fourth in England, 25 points behind Manchester City might not seem much of a challenge.

Madrid fans, pundits and players might feel Liverpool won’t be a challenge but they should take a lesson from Manchester city. Zidane will have to convince his players to be at their absolute best, and not to take this fixture lightly if they are to win their third European trophy in five years.

What are the Manager’s saying?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has promised not to change the way the team plays and promises Liverpool will be “on fire” for the final:

“We were in a League Cup final and didn’t win it. People don’t tell me in the street since then: ‘Thank you for bringing us to the final’. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you.

“I see no trophies after these games. They don’t hang silver medals at Melwood. That’s a pity, but that’s the game. There’s still a job to do.

“You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid.

“I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire.”

The Madrid gaffer also promised his side will give their all and denied claims the two sides play the same kind of football.

“We are Madrid and this club is what it is. We want more and we will give everything to try do it in the best way.”

“I don’t think we play the same way; I can’t tell you about the opponent. I don’t know what they are but what I can say is that we will have the same desire as always.”

He also gave Liverpool due credit saying that “all the talk about the three up front” and them “being weak at the back” was disrespectful.

He concluded saying he knows they are a close unit who can hurt anyone and congratulated them for being in the final.


Players to Watch.

This will be a battle between Liverpool’s record breaking forward Mohamed Salah and Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Egyptian has been on fire this season re-writing English and Champions league records with every touch. The Reds forward has scored 44 goals in all competitions this season and containing him will be key in Kyiv.


Cristiano will be another player to watch. The forward had to shoulder extra attacking responsibilities this campaign as Karim Benzima and Gareth Bale struggled to find form in Europe.

The Portuguese who has been the champions league top scorer for a remarkable six years in a row told reporters ahead of the final that he’s ready, feels a decade younger 33 and has no plans of slowing down.

“Right now, I have the biological age of 23. I still have a lot of time left, I can keep playing until I’m 41. I am feeling good, happy and I can’t complain.”

He will become the first player to score in four European cup finals if he finds the net against Liverpool in Kyiv.

Where and when is it?

The match is this weekend on Saturday 26th May 201 8 in Ukraine. The final will be hosted by Dynamo Kiev FC at the famous NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium.

The same stadium that hosted the Euro 2012 final. It holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 and is the second largest in Eastern Europe.


This year’s CL Campaign Statistics Comparisons. (Excluding qualifiers.)


Real Madrid – 8
Liverpool – 7

Goals scored

Real Madrid – 30
Liverpool – 40

Top scorer

Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo (15)
Liverpool – Roberto Firmino/Mohamed Salah (10)

Most assists

Real Madrid – Dani Carvajal (three)
Liverpool – James Milner (nine)

Conversion rate

Real Madrid – 18.4 per cent
Liverpool – 26.3 per cent

Goals conceded

Real Madrid – 15
Liverpool – 13

Clean sheets

Real Madrid – 3
Liverpool – 6


Predicted line-ups

Liverpool (4-3-3)

Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Real Madrid (4-3-3)

Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Casemiro; Vasquez, Ronaldo, Benzema


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