Kyiv Hosts Real Madrid and Liverpool in the 2017/2018 UEFA Champions League Final
Tonight in Kyiv, 12-time winners, Real Madrid will take on Liverpool Football Club of England in the final of the 2017/2018 UEFA Champions League campaign.
A lot has been said in the build-up to the game which makes for a final to really look forward to. Some circles have said it’s going to be a show between Mohamed Salah and reigning footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo.
Liverpool – five-time Champions League winners – qualified for the final after defeating AS Roma 7-6 on aggregate. The Reds won 5-2 in the first leg at the Anfield stadium before losing 4-2 at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome.
Los Blancos advanced to the final after edging out Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate. Madrid beat the Bavarians 2-1 at the Alianz Arena courtesy of goals from Marcelo and Karim Benzema.
The second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu ended in a 2-2 draw as Real Madrid qualified for a third consecutive Champions League final appearance.
The Zinedine Zidane led-team could win their third successive Champions League title and a fourth in five years – following victories in 2014 (vs Atlético), 2016 (vs Atlético) and 2017 (vs Juventus) – if they beat 1978 European Cup winners, Liverpool.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be fit and available for selection after he was rested for the latter matches of the La Liga during the just concluded season.
Ronaldo has scored 15 goals in the Champions League this season and would become only the fifth player to appear in five European Cup final victories, and the first in the UEFA Champions League era, should he feature and Madrid triumph.
The other four players are Madrid trio Paco Gento (the only player to appear in six final victories), Alfredo Di Stefano, Jose María Zarraga and AC Milan’s Paolo Maldini.
The match is a repeat of the 1981 final where Liverpool won 1-0 in Paris thanks to Alan Kennedy’s 82nd minute goal. Interestingly, that was Madrid’s last defeat in the final of the competition.
Liverpool trio, Mohamed Salah (10), Roberto Firmino (10) and Sadio Mane (9) are the highest scoring trio in a single Champions League campaign having netted 29 goals this season and much of Liverpool’s goalscoring responsibilities in Kyiv will rest on the them.
Mohamed Salah will become the first Egyptian to win the Champions League, if Liverpool wins while Sadio Mane will become the first Senegalese to play in the final (if he features tonight).
Roberto Firmino is playing in his first UEFA Champions League campaign, and he’s made it to the final. Will he win it?
Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro will be tasked with the responsibility of battling the midfield against the energetic Liverpool midfilders.
Both teams have met five times in Europe and Liverpool lead their head-to-head record 3-2. In terms of goals, Liverpool have scored six in their clashes while Madrid have scored four.
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has insisted that Madrid do not have the upper hand heading into the UEFA Champions League final.
“We aren’t the favourites, this is a 50-50 situation,” Zidane said in his press conference on Friday.
“But we have to play a great match to win. We aren’t favourites of anything. In football, it is very simple in football. There are two teams, and you have to understand how your opponent can hurt you, and you have to control how they do this.
Former Borussia Dortmund coach, Jurgen Klopp (who reached the Champions League final with the BVB in 2013) gave a response to the claim that he and his Saturday opposite number are tactically clueless:
“If a lot of people think Zinedine Zidane has not a lot of tactical knowledge, and then people think the same about me, that would be really funny.
“The two managers in the Champions League final have no clue about tactics? What would that say about the game?
“I’m longer in Liverpool than he is at Real Madrid and he can win the Champions League for a third time. That’s never happened before.
“Unfortunately, I have to accept that he is as brilliant as he was as a player. This group of players [at Real Madrid] work like a clock from Switzerland. I saw his team playing a lot of times and it is just fantastic football.”
More Stats ahead of the 2018 UCL final:
– Cristiano Ronaldo could set a new record if he scores again in Kiev, becoming the only player to score in four UEFA Champions League finals. Ronaldo’s brace against Juventus in last season’s final made him the first player to score in three UEFA Champions League finals, following his goals in 2008, for Manchester United FC, and 2014. He could set a new record if he scores again in Kyiv becoming the only player to score in four UEFA Champions League finals.
– Sergio Ramos could become the fifth player to score in three UEFA Champions League finals. The Real Madrid captain found the net against Atletico in both 2014 and 2016, could join Ronaldo in scoring in three finals. Ramos is one of five players to have scored in two finals, along with Raúl González (2000, 2002), Samuel Eto’o (2006, 2009), Lionel Messi (2009, 2011) and Mario Mandzukic (2013, 2017). Marcelo and Gareth Bale – who both netted in 2014 – and Marco Asensio and Casemiro, on target 12 months ago, could all join that list in Kyiv.
– This is the eighth appearance for Liverpool in UCL finals. They have won the Champions League five times in their history (1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005) losing twice. The last time they reached the final of the competition was in 2007 which they lost 2-1 to AC Milan.