Liverpool battle Real Madrid in the Champions League final once again tonight. The Reds have played in every possible match this term, reaching the final in all three knockout competitions, and their focus is now on adding European glory to the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. Liverpool’s quadruple hopes are over, after Manchester City’s dramatic Premier League title win, but the Champions League is far more than just a consolation prize.
In a repeat of the 2018 final, Jurgen Klopp’s side face Real Madrid and they will be hoping for a very different outcome. Gareth Bale scored twice that day in a 3-1 win for Real – that must feel a long time ago for the Welshman who brings his time in Spain to an end this summer.
It’s been an incredible run to the final from the LaLiga champions, who have looked almost certain to be knocked out on more than one occasion. That was the case in the semi-finals against Manchester City, as Rodrygo produced two stoppage-time goals in no time at all to take the tie to extra-time, where Karim Benzema finished the job.
What we’ve seen from these two sides throughout the season would suggest it could be a final full of goals and last-minute drama in Paris. However, there are some key battles that would decide who would emerge champions, Apex Football takes a critical look at 5 key battles that would influence the final.
Salah vs his 2018 Demons
The last time Liverpool face Real Madrid in the Champions League final, Mo Salah had to be subbed off following a horrible tackle meted on him by the then Real Madrid skipper, Sergio Ramos.
Liverpool lost to Real Madrid that night and went on to win in 2019 but the loss in 2018 still lingers on. Mo Salah would be hoping to take revenge, the only issue is that you cannot just say those words without backing it up with actions.
Mo Salah’s form has dipped in recent months, so how exactly would he dish out his revenge on Real Madrid in Paris tonight? He would have a lot of demons to battle within for him to conquer Real Madrid’s resolute defence. But if Salah sparks magic tonight, the Real Madrid backline would have a nightmare.
Vinicius vs Trent Alexander-Arnold
This would be a mouth-watering battle that could decide how the game swings. Vinicius Jnr. will be a serious threat for the Liverpool defence tonight and he would have constant 1 v 1 against a forward-thinking defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The 21 goal contributions Alexander-Arnold has racked up this season is a testament of how much the English man loves going forward. But he would have a lot to do defensively when he faces a marauding Vinicius.
If Alexander-Arnold is pegged back, it would be difficult for him to contribute offensively which might put Liverpool on the back foot for the majority of the game.
Thiago & Fabinho vs Modric & Kroos
The battle in the centre of the park is key to how the game plays out. If Fabinho is fit enough for the game, he would be vital for Liverpool’s midfield. The Brazilian can be the shield for the Liverpool defence. Thiago is vital as well because of his excellent passing abilities.
Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been midfield partners for several years and they understand each other’s game so much. They have what it takes to conjure a moment of brilliance that can swing the fixture.
Benzema vs Van Dijk
Karim Benzema has had a phenomenal season with 41 goals in as many games. Which is almost a guarantee that he would score in the final tonight. Virgil Van Dijk would have to do a lot to stop him.
All Benzema need is an inch of a chance just like he showed against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City. He does not need a lot of space to wreck havoc. Good in the air and on both feet, Benzema is the complete striker defenders dread.
If Van Dijk can keep Benzema quite throughout the game then Liverpool have a chance at the trophy.
Klopp vs Ancelotti
Carl Ancelotti currently holds the upper-hand across the previous 10 meetings between these two managers. The Italian has won four of those outings whilst Klopp has tasted victory in three. The other three have ended in stalemate.
It would be a battle of Chess between Klopp and Ancelotti. Who will deal the first blow? What substitutions will they make and how will it affect the game?
These two managers can decide how the game would end tonight. Get ready for an explosive encounter tonight! Apex Football would be bringing you all the action as it breaks!