Fans, players and viewers are breathlessly waiting for this sensational moment - the faceoff between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the UEFA Champions League final in Kyiv.
The mega clash offers tactical masterclass by both the managers Jurgen Klopp and Zinedine Zidane, as two different approaches set to light up the final club game of the season.
The Champioooooonsss! – the iconic Champions League theme song, the shriek of the crowd, the kickoff whistle by the referee are the minute elements which leads to an unforgettable final of the biggest club game in this world. And it becomes even more special when two teams with astonishing history in the competition face each other for the ultimate prize – The UEFA Champions League trophy.
Real Madrid are the experienced lot in this competition, they have been constantly playing in the final stages of the tournament, winning the last two ones and 12 in total – second comes AC Milan with seven. This stat is enough to stomp their dominance in the European completions. They have the personality, the class and the experience to deal with the nerve wracking moments of such a high-profile fixture.
And, the five-time winners of the Champions League, Liverpool are energetic, fearless and brimming with confidence – the Merseyside outfit have come a long way under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. The tactical changes which he has made, the motivational pep talks and the ever-present charm, barking instructions with passion and love for the players and the club have really taken Liverpool to a new high.
Two different philosophies – ONE GOAL
The Spanish giants Real Madrid have tweaked a lot of formations under manager Zinedine Zidane this season. Their La Liga campaign was a disaster and the same outcome was predicted during the knockout stages of the Champions League, but this Real outfit have shown a different face and different hunger in the UCL.
Their patience, dedication, and their ability to finish up games have surprised many this season. Their clinical prowess to convert a single chance into a match winner is commendable.
The understanding between Casemiro, Modric and Toni Kroos is unbelievable and the emergence of Isco, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vasquez have been more or less a dream for the Madridistas. The lethal Cristiano Ronaldo continues to touch new heights and already lead the UCL goal scoring charts with 15 goals.
Liverpool’s journey till the final has been a pure team effort and a joy to watch for a neutral football fan. Nobody thought this team could reach the final, but football is a game of uncertainty and it lived up to its name.
The troika of Mane, Firmino and Salah has wreaked havoc throughout the tournament, with the experience of underappreciated James Milner unleashing the chains of this squad whenever possible with 9 assists, which is a tournament record.
Liverpool fans can proudly say that they have their front three in the top five goal scorers of the tournament, with Salah and Firmino bagging 10 each and Sadio Mane with a handy nine goals, while Real Madrid has only one player in the top five, with Cristiano Ronaldo (15 goals).
This Liverpool outfit has scored 40 goals till now in the UCL, the highest. And with their fearless personality, they are guaranteed to see eye-to-eye with Real Madrid in the much-anticipated final.
Real Madrid have changed few formations this season under Zidane with their evergreen 4-3-3 still being the main formation for the Los Merengues.
Ronaldo takes the LW spot in this formation with Benzema being the hardworking CF, the RW spot is the one which is up for grabs for the likes of Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vasquez with Isco being the other main contender.
The midfield three is settled with Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos being the heartbeat of the system. The defence is headed by one of the most important players of this team Sergio Ramos with Marcelo, Carvajal and Rafael Varane being the rock for the Madrid side. But this formation does leave a bit of a gap to dominate big games and that is why Zidane has opted for the 4-4-2 (Diamond) in the big games of UCL, with Isco being at the tip of the diamond and Ronaldo-Benzema playing upfront. The 4-4-2 allows Real Madrid to control the game a bit more and they have done it clinically in this journey till now.
But in front of the Liverpool’s ‘gegenpressing’ this formation could look a bit pale. However, this Real side knows how to deal with pressure situation and the individual quality is too high to finish off games in a flash, so Liverpool have to be cautious and have to take their chances because Real Madrid have weakness - they sometimes lose concentration as we have seen a lot of times this season, and Liverpool have to be at their best to hurt Madrid whenever ‘the chance’ comes.
Liverpool on the other side have been a joy to watch this season. The addition of Virgil Van Djik has only strengthened their case, with his mountain of a personality bringing the almost perfect balance in the defence.
The development of Andy Robertson from a relegated Hull City side to the UCL finalist is one story to tell in the future. His defensive inputs have been solid and the attacking quality which he is providing to the Reds is brilliant. Trent Alexander Arnold has been another player which has surprised many with his maturity and calmness at such a tender age.
The midfield has been amazing with Jordan Henderson leading the pack and dictating the game when needed, he has been criticised numerous times but his team mates know his value and James Milner silenced his critics with a record nine assists in the campaign.
Liverpool have played 4-3-3 throughout their journey and are expected to go by the same, with Mohamed Salah sticking to the wide right. The Egyptian is the one who can stop the ever-present Marcelo from bombing forward and explore his defensive weakness. His diagonal runs to the center can be the turning point in this fixture, and if Real manages to stop him then they have the Brazilian flavour of Roberto Firmino to deal with.
The Brazilian has created panic among defences with his clever running, his off the ball positioning and his hunger to win the ball back and produce something magical with it and his 10 goals sum up the brilliant season he has had.
Liverpool’s pressing can create problems for Madrid but they have to be very careful about the fact that their opponents can open up their defence within a blink of an eye. But this Liverpool team will be very optimistic of winning their sixth Champions League against two-time Champions League defenders.
With two footballing giants locking horns to win the ultimate prize in club football, a cracker of a game is guaranteed and the fans can’t wait for the match to start.