Over the last few decades the Champions League has established itself as the best club football competition in the world. The quality of football and countless classic match nights have even the casual fan consumed by the drama. This year’s final on Saturday 28th May, held at the Parc Des Princes in Paris, is one of the most eagerly anticipated in years, as it features European football royalty (and the competition’s two most successful clubs) Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Both club’s fans, particularly Real’s, endured a rollercoaster road to the final, which culminated in some unforgettable encounters that will go down as UCL classics.
Liverpool’s route to the Champions League final
The Merseyside giants Liverpool breezed through their Group Stage ties and remained undefeated with a perfect Group record as they ventured into the second round to take on Italian Champions Inter Milan.
Despite a slight scare in the second leg at Anfield, Liverpool moved swiftly onto the Quarterfinals where they would travel to Portugal to take on a young but gusty Benfica side.
Liverpool dismantled Benfica on the road before narrowly edging the Portuguese side on aggregate after a thrilling 3-3 draw back at Anfield which would setup a Semi-Final clash against surprise contenders Villarreal where Liverpool would edge the Spanish side away from home and advance to their third Champions League final in four years.
Real Madrid’s route to the Champions League final
Real Madrid started off their Group Stage escapades with consecutive losing matchdays against Inter Milan and Sheriff FC before finding their rhythm and moving onto the knockout stage where they would face a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side featuring Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Jr.
Despite a narrow loss on the road, Madrid rallied back and saw off the French Champions in the Spanish capital before they faced off against reigning European Champions Chelsea.
Madrid comfortably won the first leg in London but struggled to maintain momentum at home as the Blues rallied back to force Extra-time before a Karim Benzema winner ensured Madrid would move on to face Manchester City.
City and Madrid would play out an all-time classic series as the Citizens edged a 4-3 first leg before a phenomenal late comeback from Real back in their home ground forced Extra-time from which Benzema once again steered Madrid back to another Champions League final appearance.
Who will win the Champions League final?
Liverpool go into the final as slight favourites in the Champions League final odds. Although they’ll need to be wary of Madrid’s talisman Karim Benzema. He remains the main danger man for Real Madrid as he is currently the competition’s top scorer with an impressive 15 goals, including numerous winning goals throughout the course of the competition.
With an experienced manager in Carlo Ancelotti looking to win his fourth Champions League, and a talented squad of players including Real favourites Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro, Madrid will be hoping that their wealth of European pedigree can help deliver them the club’s 14th Champions League (UCL) trophy.
Back on Merseyside, Liverpool themselves boast one of the world’s most imposing squad of players, including a tantalising front three of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane with options of either Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino or Luiz Diaz being used as the 3rd forward.
Jurgen Klopp will likely look to remain unchanged at the back with the familiar backline of Virgil Van Djik, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip all having had excellent seasons.
What to expect and players to look out for in the UCL final
Tournament finals are sometimes cagey affairs. The final on Saturday 28th May however is unlikely to play out that way. If form is anything to go by, Liverpool’s will come out the gate early, looking to establish an early lead. Real will attempt to see out the storm as they have done in previous rounds and get stronger as the game goes on.
Real will most likely look to get the ball to Karim Benzema as often as possible and to utilise the flanks through young talents Vinicius Junior or Rodrygo.
Liverpool are often known for their potent attacking displays that can stem from their overlapping fullbacks or dynamic wingers.
Goalkeeper Alisson Becker is also a counter attacking threat for Liverpool due to his excellent and often incisive distribution from goal. The arial presence of Virgil Van Dijk, with his towering height and strength when attacking a set piece or defending an oppositions attack.
Both teams have experienced players across the park and most have played at the latter stages of European football’s most sought after prize. It will hopefully be another exciting encounter that will likely bring some spectacular moments.