Real Madrid will bid to make history by winning the Champions League for the third time in a row when they take on Liverpool in Kiev on May 26.
Los Blancos beat Atletico Madrid in the 2016 final and successfully defended their title when they thrashed Juventus last year. Now they are on the verge of becoming the first team to ever win three on the bounce, and they are the favourites to pull it off. However, they must overcome a strong, exciting and confident Liverpool side, which will be a monumentally difficult task, so we should be in for a gripping contest.
In many ways, it is a dream final. These are two European giants, steeped in glorious history, with passionate fan bases. It pits two attacking teams against one another, so we should see plenty of free-flowing, attractive football. Both goalkeepers are dodgy, and both defences are leaky, so there should be goals galore. And it sees World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo lock horns with the man that would depose him, Mohamed Salah. They have been the two most exciting attacking talents in the world since the turn of the year. Salah has banged in a remarkable 43 goals this season, while Ronaldo is really finding his best form and he drew gasps of astonishment when he scored with an overhead kick against Juventus in the quarter-finals.
Real Madrid are season pros in this competition, having won it in three of the last four seasons, and they always seem to raise their game when it comes to the Champions League. They have a much better midfield than Liverpool too, and they are a technically superior side. For that reason they are the favourites to lift the trophy: Betonline will have odds, make sure to check them before betting and you will see that Los Blancos are odds-on to win it.
But Liverpool will not fear Real Madrid. They beat Champions League favourites Manchester City home and away in the quarter-finals, and did just enough to scrape past Roma in the semis. They have shown that they can simply rip teams apart with their attacking brilliance, and Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are all in sensational form right now. They press hard, all over the pitch, forcing the opposition into conceding possession in hazardous areas. They play fast, exciting, heavy metal football, roared on by the passionate manager Jurgen Klopp. They are quicker and more energetic and they could overwhelm the ageing Galacticos.
It has to be said that Real Madrid are not as strong as they were a year ago. They have struggled in La Liga, and they relied on luck to get past Juventus and Bayern Munich in this year’s competition, after losing at Wembley and finishing below Tottenham in their group. They did not invest in the squad this summer, and they could have done with freshening things up a bit. They deserve to be favourites, but this game is by no means a foregone conclusion and Liverpool fans will expect great things from their heroes.
The last team to beat Real Madrid in a European final was Liverpool, when they secured a 1-0 victory courtesy of an Alan Kennedy strike. Since then Real Madrid have been supremely dominant and established themselves as the greatest club in European history, but Liverpool could well put an end to that run. With Salah, Firmino and Mane in such devastating form, anything is possible. For the neutrals, it should be a wonderful game, full of chances, end to end football and goals aplenty, so excitement will continue to mount in the build-up to the big game.