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Liverpool v Real Madrid - Champions League Final: Preview

27 May 2022 08:05:10 EST
Karim Benzema has been the form player of the Champions League knockout stages

The wait is almost over to see who will be crowned Champions League winners as Liverpool take on Real Madrid at the Stade de France on Saturday (20:00 KO).

Los Blancos are eyeing a record-extending 14th European crown and they are 2.50 to lift the trophy in France, while the Reds are 1.53 to hoist the Champions League aloft for the first time since 2019.

With both sides boasting a plethora of attacking talent, this promises to be an entertaining affair in what is a repeat of the 2018 final that Madrid came out on top in.

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Familiar feel

There is no denying the fact Spain and England have been the two dominant countries in the Champions League over the last decade, with Spanish teams (six) and English sides (three) winning nine of the last 10 titles.

The 2019/20 final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain is the only time in the last 10 years that neither a Spanish or English team has contested the showpiece match.

As mentioned earlier, Madrid and Liverpool did battle in 2018 and it was Los Blancos that managed to overcome their English foes 3-1 on that occasion. However, the Reds will remember that final vividly for the injury picked up by Mohamed Salah, who suffered a shoulder issue following a challenge with Sergio Ramos and was forced off in the first half.

Jurgen Klopp's men will certainly be out for revenge, but they could find that difficult to achieve against a Madrid side that have won 81 percent of their European Cup and Champions League finals.

On top of that, Los Blancos haven't lost a final in this competition since 1981, while no manager has won the Champions League more times than Carlo Ancelotti (three).

Gruelling season for Reds

It has been a long campaign for Liverpool as they were fighting for an unprecedented quadruple, something which is no longer achievable after they were pipped to the Premier League title by Manchester City.

The Reds already have the FA Cup and EFL Cup in the bag and they will be hoping to complete the cup treble with glory in France on Saturday.

However, the English giants have been forced to put in so much effort already and the clash at the Stade de France will be their 63rd and final game of the campaign. They will have played seven more matches than Madrid by the end of play and that could prove to be telling.

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Watch out for French ace

If Liverpool show any signs of tiredness or weakness, then they will most likely be punished by Karim Benzema - the top scorer in the Champions League this year with 15.

The 34-year-old has been in inspired form for Madrid this season and he currently sits joint-third alongside Robert Lewandowski on the all-time list of scorers in this competition with 86 - only Cristiano Ronaldo (141) and Lionel Messi (125) have more.

France international Benzema also has previous against the Reds, having opened the scoring in the final victory in 2018, and he is 6.00 to be the first goalscorer once again.

Salah to get revenge

No player on the pitch will be hoping for revenge more than Egypt international Salah, who was left in tears when leaving the pitch four years ago.

The 29-year-old has notched eight times for Liverpool in Europe this term, the most of anyone in the squad, and he is 2.10 to score anytime at the Stade de France.

There is also a feel-good factor surrounding the forward heading into the final after he reaffirmed his commitment to the club, saying he would be staying at Anfield next season, and a Champions League win could be what is needed to get him to sign a new contract.

Along with Salah, it's also worth noting Senegal international Sadio Mane, who has said he will reveal all on his future after Saturday's showpiece event.

The 30-year-old, who grabbed the equaliser in the 2018 final, has five goals to his name in Europe this term and he can be backed at 7.00 to open the scoring and 7.00 to bag the final strike of the match.

Feisty contest expected

Liverpool have tended to evade bookings when it comes to European finals, with just two yellows handed out in their previous two Champions League finals, but it has been a different story for Madrid.

Los Blancos have been carded 15 times in their four Champions League Finals since 2011 and they have also been involved in two bad-tempered affairs over the last decade.

In the 2017 final against Juventus, there were 10 cards handed out, including the only sending off in the last decade, while there were 12 cautions in the Atletico final of 2014.

Over 3.5 cards in Saturday's match at 1.61 looks to be a solid bet, while the 1.66 on Madrid to be given the first booking also appeals.

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