Date: 29 May (IST)
Time: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Stade de France
Live Scores: SportsTiger App
Liverpool and Real Madrid meet in the French capital- a city perhaps more suited for a tryst- but for the two European heavyweights, this may not seem any less than a battlefield with a chance to clinch the ultimate continental title as they face off on Saturday evening in the UEFA Champions League finale.
While the English club would have their seventh Champions League title in sight on Sunday, for Real Madrid this is no unfamiliar territory either as they look to get hold of their record-extending 14th trophy. Both sides have had a topsy-turvy journey to reach this far and neither team would want to eventually finish as runners-up after coming so close.
Get set for the high-voltage encounter coming your way.
Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah both sustained injuries during Liverpool’s FA Cup final against Chelsea. While it may have initially been a cause of concern for the Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, both of them have since then regained fitness enough to be named on the bench for the match on the weekend. However, for this crucial clash, expect both of them to be part of the starting XI.
Thiago Alcantara picked up an injury during the side’s last Premier League match against Wolves but he has made a quick recovery. However, it would be interesting to see if he has regained the fitness to play the entire 90 minutes. Divock Origi is set to miss the final after picking up an injury. However, on the bright side, Fabinho and Joe Gomez have made quick recoveries and should be part of the squad.
As far as Real Madrid are concerned, they did not have any major availability or injury concerns, implying they would be free from any kind of stress other than the game at hand. They are strengthened by the availability of Marcelo and David Alaba who joined the team for training after an injury concern.
So close yet so far for Liverpool as far as their dream of completing a quadruple is concerned. While the Reds followed their EFL Cup victory with a win in the FA Cup, they narrowly missed out on the Premier League title. Although Jurgen Klopp and his men did what they were supposed to do on the final day of the English top-flight as they registered a 3-1 win over Wolves on Sunday, Man City scored 3 goals in a span of 5 minutes against Aston Villa to ensure that Premier League is theirs for the sixth time.
This means that despite such a promising start to the season, Klopp & Co could end 2021-22 with just two trophies. That would certainly not please the team’s fans and they would be expecting Liverpool to pull off a magical performance in the summit clash to claim European glory.
Moreover, this is the same opponent that had defeated them in the 2018 final and many members including Mohamed Salah would not have forgotten that night in Kyiv and would be eager for vengeance. They do have the players in the squad that can produce the goods for them- be it Salah, Mane or Diaz in the offence, the likes of Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk in the defence and Henderson and Thiago in the midfield with a world-class shot-stopper in Alisson but they will be up against a side that knows how to win even with their backs against the wall.
Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid, meanwhile, have simply been unstoppable this season and whichever team has tied to stop them have perished. Paris Saint-Germain tried and took a 2 goal lead but lost, defending champions Chelsea tried but failed and most recently Manchester City scored four goals against the Spanish Giants at the Etihad and might have thought surely they have had it but NO. Real Madrid have been the most stubborn team this season and their uncanny ability to survive and come out on top deserves a special mention.
Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior both of them in fine form have formed a lethal combination that has been one of the key reasons behind Madrid’s success. Riyad Mahrez and Rodrygo came to the party when they looked down and out in the second leg of the semifinal against City and later it was Benzema again with his spot-kick that took Madrid into the finals.
While Real’s recent results haven’t been up to the mark that is more because they had clinched the La Liga with matches in hand and their boss Ancelotti has rested and rotated his players to keep them fresh for a game like the Champions League final.
The same cannot be said about Liverpool though who lost the title race narrowly only on the final matchday. Will that prove to be a disadvantage? We shall find out after a spectacular game on Saturday.
Probable Starting XIs:
Alisson Becker (goalkeeper), Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgin Van Dijk, Andrew Henry Robertson, Jordan Brian Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz
Thibaut Courtois (goalkeeper), Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, David Alaba, Ferland Mendy, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Valverde, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Alisson Becker
Defenders: Virgin Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy
Midfielders: Sadio Mane, Fabinho, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos
Strikers: Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota
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