Today, Liverpool and Real Madrid will do battle to decide the winner of the 2018 UEFA Champions League.
Liverpool, the tournament surprise package, enter the final looking for their first Champions League trophy since their famous 2005 triumph in Istabul and the failed attempt in 2007.
Last year, Real Madrid became the first team to ever successfully defend their UEFA Champions League title and are going for an unprecedented third straight today.
This game has everything: storylines, intrigue, and lots and lots of star power. The top 4 scorers in the Champions League should all be playing. With Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (15 goals) leading the way, followed by Liverpool’s trio of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane (10, 10, and 9 goals) respectively.
Both of these teams failed to win their league titles, with Liverpool finishing fourth and Real finishing third. But their league misfortunes will be forgiven and forgotten if they are able to come away with club football’s biggest prize.
The match will be played tomorrow, at 2:45 PM Eastern, in Kyiv, Ukraine. You can watch the match on FOX and ESPN Deportes.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas in goal; a back four of Marcelo, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, and Dani Carvajal (from left to right); a midfield three of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Casemiro; and an interchangeable front three of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Liverpool: Loris Karius in goal; a back four of Andy Robertson,. Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, and Trent Alexander-Arnold (left to right); a midfield three of Georginio Wjinaldum, Jordan Henderson, and James Milner; and the deadly front three of Mane, Firmino, and Salah.
Key Matchup: Ronaldo vs. Alexander-Arnold; Salah vs. Marcelo
The two best players on the pitch, and two of the front runners for the Balon d’Or are Ronaldo and Salah. Both have enticing defensive counterparts.
Ronaldo will go up against 19 year old Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose fantastic play in the Champions League has earned him a spot on England’s World Cup squad.
Alexander-Arnold was particularly brilliant against Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, an electric winger with pace and a knack for goal.
Ronaldo is Sane, multiplied. He is much more cunning, experienced, and prolific than the German, and has all the pedigree in the world. This will be Alexander-Arnold’s biggest test yet.
On the other side, Salah will go against one of the worlds best left backs in Marcelo, who is known more, ironically, for his offense than his defense. Marcelo is one of the games best fullbacks in regards to overlapping and creating chances. However, he often neglects his defensive assignments. Doing so against Salah could prove to be his sides downfall.
Liverpool lead the tournament with 6 clean sheets. Despite having worse personnel on paper than Real Madrid, their defense has been a strong suit this season. Real will need to work for their chances.
Real know what it takes to win this game; they’ve won it twice in a row and three times in the past four years. But Liverpool seem like a team of destiny, and their attacking prowess is seemingly unstoppable. While Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has better attacking options off the bench (Isco, Marco Asensio, and Lucas Vasquez), Jurgen Klopp’s all out pressing and Liverpool’s tenacity both on and off the ball should make life incredibly difficult for Los Blancos.
Liverpool 4, Real Madrid 2