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Champions League Final Preview: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

The Champions League comes to its thrilling conclusion this Saturday as Real Madrid faces Liverpool in the final in Kiev.

Kickoff is set for 19:45 local time in the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium.

Twice-defending champions, Real Madrid entered this competition with a “championship or bust” attitude. With a third-place finish in La Liga, Zinedine Zidane is amazingly on the hot seat and could be sacked if he does not bring home a title.

Los Blancos had an unimpressive start to the Champions League, dropping points in both of their matches against Tottenham Hotspur and finishing second in Group H.

Real Madrid overcame a very tough draw, defeating Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. Cristiano Ronaldo led all scorers in the Champions League with 15 goals. He and Daniel Carvajal tied for the Real Madrid lead with three Champions League assists.

Liverpool had an easier draw, but also accomplished many impressive victories along the way. They kicked off against Porto, becoming the first English team to win 5-0 in Portugal. They then went on to route English rivals Manchester City 5-1 on aggregate, dealing them one of only two home losses this season.

Liverpool then handily defeated a Roma team that had upset Barcelona in the semifinals. While their draw was not as difficult as Real Madrid’s, reaching the Champions League Final is always an impressive achievement.

Mohamed Salah and Robert Firmino are tied for the Reds’ lead in Champions league goals with 10 while James Milner has eight assists to lead the team.

More recently, both teams are on poor form. Real Madrid has won just one of their last five fixtures. Liverpool has won just two of their last five.

Real Madrid leads the all-time series 3-2 with the most recent fixtures happening in the 2014-15 Champions League group stage. Los Blancos won both of those matches, 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu and 1-0 at Anfield.

Midfielders Emre Can (back), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), defenders Joel Matip (hamstring), Joe Gomez (ankle), and keeper Ádám Bogdan (cruciate ligament) will miss the match for Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp´s most likely lineup is a 4-3-3 formation with Loris Karius between the sticks. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil Van Dijk and Andrew Robertson form the back line with Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and James Milner in the midfield. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané are the forwards.

Zinedine Zidane has a full strength squad for this match and will likely start a 4-3-1-2 formation with Keylor Navas in goal. Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Daniel Carvajal are the defenders with Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric as the first line of a midfielders. Isco is the number 10 man with Ronaldo and Benzema as the strikers.

Both teams have strong attacks but lax defense.  While both teams will attempt to play cautiously, there will likely be a lot of goals. As the twice defending champions Real Madrid are the favorite but with Liverpool’s recent performance, anything could happen.

Liverpool squad:

Goalkeepers: Loris Karius, Simon Mignolet, Danny Ward

Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne, Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Giorgino Wijnaldum, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Adam Phillips

Forwards: Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Danny Ings, Dominic Solanke, Curtis Jones, Ben Woodburn, Rafael Camacho,

Real Madrid squad:

Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Kiko Casillas, Luca

Defenders: Daniel Carvajal, Jesús Vallejo, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Theo, Achraf

Midfielders: Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Marcos Llorente, Marco Asensio, Isco, Mateo Kovacic, Dani Ceballos

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez, Borja Mayoral

 

Featured Image Credit: Tasnim News Agency [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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