Reds seek to win it 6 times in Kyiv – Champions League final preview

25 May 2018

Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday night, in one of the biggest games in the Reds’ magical history.


Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

Saturday, May 26, 2018 – 7.45pm (BST)
Olympic Stadium, Kyiv
Champions League Final
Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia)

What can you say about the magnitude of this match? It is simply gargantuan.

Liverpool are 90 minutes away from being crowned European champions for the sixth time, after an extraordinary run to the final.

Having outclassed Hoffenheim in the play-off back in August, Jurgen Klopp‘s side topped their group ahead of Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor, remaining unbeaten over the six fixtures.

Next up were Porto in the last 16, with the 5-0 win at Estadio do Dragao one of Liverpool’s most complete performances of the season.

An all-conquering Man City team were expected to end the Reds’ Champions League dream in the quarter-finals, but a 5-1 aggregate victory proved to be a special achievement.

It was up to Roma to deny Klopp’s men a place in the showcase event in Kyiv, but yet again, Anfield proved too much for the opposition, and Liverpool clung on in the second leg to progress 7-6 over the two ties.

ROME, ITALY - Wednesday, May 2, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the 7-6 aggregate victory over AS Roma during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between AS Roma and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Olimpico. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It lined up a final meeting with a formidable Real Madrid side looking for their third Champions League title in a row, and a fourth in five seasons.

Few teams in European Cup history have built up such a winning mentality in the competition, and there is experience and ability in abundance throughout the squad.

Liverpool can beat anyone on their day, though, and as long as they don’t freeze on the biggest stage of all there is every chance of glory on Saturday evening.

It is hard to put into words just how big victory would be, whether that’s concerning Klopp, his players or the supporters.

Leave nothing out there on the pitch, do yourselves proud and please, please bring home No. 6. You can do it.

Last Meeting: Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool

 

Team News

ROME, ITALY - Wednesday, May 2, 2018: Liverpool's players line-up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between AS Roma and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Olimpico. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have picked up no new injury problems since the 4-0 win over Brighton on the final day of the Premier League season.

Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all absent, though, as they miss out on the biggest night of their careers to date.

The team picks itself, with Loris Karius starting in goal, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson at full-back and Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk the preferred centre-back pairing.

It is an incredible night for boyhood Liverpool supporter Alexander-Arnold, who at 19 is about to play in club football’s greatest match.

Jordan Henderson will skipper the side, well aware that he is on the cusp of becoming only the fifth Reds player to lift the European Cup, after Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard.

Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner will be used alongside Henderson in midfield, with Emre Can and Adam Lallana decent options from the substitutes’ bench despite not being at their fittest.

The front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are the poster boys of this team, and their influence is paramount in Kyiv.

Victory for Liverpool would surely make Salah the red-hot favourite for the Ballon d’Or later this year.

CARDIFF, WALES - Friday, June 2, 2017: Real Madrid's Gareth Bale and Luka Modri? during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus FC and Real Madrid CF at the Stadium of Wales. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Real Madrid are in an enviable position in the injury department, with Zidane having an entirely fit squad to choose from.

Keylor Navas isn’t the most convincing goalkeeper, despite a good performance in the semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich, but the back four is formidable to say the least.

Dani Carvajal and Marcelo are the two of the best in the world in their respective positions, while Spain legend Sergio Ramos is a good foil for the towering Raphael Varane.

Given Liverpool’s attacking class, Zidane is likely to deploy the understated but influential Casemiro in front of the defence, with world-class duo Toni Kroos and Luka Modric weaving their magic in more attack-minded areas.

Should the Madrid boss go with a more gung-ho approach, Isco and Mateo Kovacic are strong options.

In the final third, Cristiano Ronaldo will believe this is another final that can belong to him. The all-time great has scored in the last two Champions League finals.

Gareth Bale has found form at just the right time and is likely to start, with Karim Benzema and Isco battling it out for the remaining spot.

Youngsters Marco Asensio and Lucas Vasquez can cause problems from the bench.

Predicted XI: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema

 

Liverpool’s 5 Meetings With Real Madrid

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 10, 2009: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard MBE celebrates with team-mate Fernando Torres after scoring his second, Liverpool's third goal against Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 2nd Leg match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lost 1-0 – November, 2014 (Benzema)
Lost 3-0 – October, 2014 (Ronaldo, Benzema x2)
Won 4-0 – March, 2009 (Torres, Gerrard x2, Dossena)
Won 1-0 – February, 2009 (Benayoun)
Won 1-0 – May, 1981 (Kennedy)

 

Form

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 13, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Real Madrid – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 2-2 vs. Villarreal
Won 6-0 vs. Celta Vigo
Lost 3-2 vs. Sevilla
Drew 2-2 vs. Barcelona
Lost 2-2 vs. Bayern Munich

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 4-0 vs. Brighton
Lost 1-0 vs. Chelsea
Lost 4-2 vs. Roma
Drew 0-0 vs. Stoke
Won 5-2 vs. Roma

 

Did You Know?

(Picture by: Peter Robinson / EMPICS Sport)

A Liverpool win would put them third on their own in the all-time European Cup standings, with what would be their sixth triumph in the competition.

AC Milan have seven to their name, while Madrid will be looking for a 13th crown on Saturday evening.

 

Liverpool & Madrid’s Last 5 European Cup Finals

CARDIFF, WALES - Saturday, June 3, 2017: Real Madrid's Gareth Bale lifts the European Cup trophy with Sergio Ramos and Luka Modri? after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus FC and Real Madrid CF at the Stadium of Wales. (Pic by Don Jackson-Wyatt/Propaganda)

Real Madrid

2017 – Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid (Mandzukic; Ronaldo x2, Casemiro, Asensio)
2016 – Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid (5-3 on pens) (Ramos; Carrasco)
2014 – Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (Ramos, Bale, Marcelo, Ronaldo pen; Godin)
2002 – Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Real Madrid (Lucio; Raul, Zidane)
1981 – Liverpool 1-0 Real Madrid (Kennedy)


Liverpool

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard lifts the European Cup after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

2007 – AC Milan 2-1 Liverpool (Inzaghi x2; Kuyt)
2005 – AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (2-3 on pens) – (Maldini, Crespo x2; Gerrard, Smicer, Alonso pen)
1985 – Juventus 1-0 Liverpool (Platini pen)
1984 – Liverpool 1-1 Roma (Liverpool won 4-2 on penalties) (Neal; Pruzzo)
1981 – Liverpool 1-0 Real Madrid (Kennedy)


 

Klopp’s View

Speaking at NSC Olimpiyskiy on Friday, Klopp hailed his side’s spirit as key to their run to the final:

“We are Liverpool, the club has in its DNA that we can go for the big things.

“Nobody expected us to be here but we are here, because we are Liverpool.

“I cannot believe that it’s true, but it’s us: scored the most goals, exceptional results.

“Nine months ago when we started we were already a good football team. The performances we showed created a special spirit. Now we are here.”

 

TV & Live Blog Info

KIEV, UKRAINE - Friday, May 25, 2018: A general view inside the NSC Olimpiyskiy ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

Real Madrid vs. Liverpool will kick off at 7.45pm (BST), with coverage on BT Sport 2 set to begin at 6pm with Steven Gerrard in the studio.

BT Sport are also streaming the Champions League final via their YouTube channel here, while as ever This is Anfield will be bringing you live updates and insight throughout the night.

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