Liverpool and Real Madrid prepare to battle each other to be European Champions

Around 350 million people are expected to watch around the globe as an English side takes on a Spanish side in European football's equivalent of the Super Bowl tonight.

The might of Liverpool and Real Madrid clash in Kiev tonight in the Champions League final, with the winners being crowned European Champions. The two teams are amongst the most successful in the competition (including when it was known as the European Cup prior to 1992), with Real Madrid having won it a record 12 times and Liverpool 5 times.

A win for Real would be their third successive crown - and a record 13th - and both teams have arguably the two best players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo for Real and Mo Salah for Liverpool.

This is a repeat of the 1981 final, which Liverpool won 1-0.

Liverpool's belief they can "go for the big things" is embedded in their DNA, says manager Klopp

BBC Sport
25 May 2018

BBC coverage

How to follow:

Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Sport website 19:45 BST (build-up from 17:00 BST); live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Liverpool approach Saturday's Champions League final against holders Real Madrid in Kiev with a belief they can "go for the big things" embedded in their DNA, says manager Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds, who entered in the play-off round, will be crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time if they win.

Real are looking to lift the trophy for a third successive season.

"Nobody expected us to be here, but we are because we are Liverpool," said Klopp.

A journey that started on 15 August against Hoffenheim will end in glory if the Reds beat the 12-time winners.

"This club has it in its DNA that it can really go for the big things," said Klopp.

"I am pretty sure, in the second before the game, Real Madrid will be more confident than we are but the game doesn't end in that second, it only starts.

"I am really happy to be here with this group of players. They fought unbelievably hard to be here. They deserve it. I'm really proud."

'We have to win trophies'

Zinedine Zidane has won one La Liga title and two Champions Leagues since he was appointed Real boss in January 2016.

Klopp, who took the Liverpool job three months earlier, is still seeking a first major trophy.

"I'm longer at Liverpool than he is at Real Madrid yet he can win the Champions League for the third year in a row," said the 50-year-old German.

"I saw his team playing a lot of times and its fantastic football. Zidane has been a fighter his whole life."

The Reds were beaten by Sevilla in the 2016 Europa League final.

Captain Jordan Henderson says they have moved on from that, but it is important for the team to start winning things.

"We have learned from that experience and we can use that as motivation," said the England midfielder.

"We have moved in the right direction since then. It's important we win trophies and hopefully we will win one on Saturday.

Each team's previous European Cup/Champions League victories:

Real Madrid: 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017

Liverpool: 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005

Team news

Klopp told a media conference in Kiev he had no fresh injury problems before Liverpool's final training session.

There are unlikely to be any surprises in the starting line-up, with James Milner expected to return after a minor muscle issue.

Klopp will probably have to chose between Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings for the final place on the substitutes' bench.

That is because midfielder Emre Can, who has not featured since mid-March, is expected to be on the bench after recovering from a back injury.

Will Gareth Bale start for Real?

The Wales forward was a substitute in both legs of the semi-final against Bayern Munich.

Bale is attempting to win his fourth Champions League winners' medal since moving to Spain five years ago.

Zidane also has to decide whether to play France forward Karim Benzema alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 15 Champions League goals this season - five more than Mohamed Salah.

Gareth Bale (right) has been hampered with injuries but has still scored 19 goals for Real this season

Third time lucky for Klopp?

Klopp will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky for Liverpool, with the Reds having reached two finals under him.

They lost in the 2016 League Cup showpiece to Manchester City on penalties, before going down to Sevilla three months later.

Klopp is hoping to become the fourth manager to lead Liverpool to a European Cup/Champions League triumph after Bob Paisley (1977, 1978 and 1981), Joe Fagan (1984) and Rafael Benitez (2005).

But he has been beaten in his past five finals, including an all-German 2013 Champions League decider between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

"The Champions League final is really big," he said.

"Going to the Champions League final is difficult to do - maybe a once-in-a-lifetime chance - and I know that is how I felt at the time.

"We played an unbelievable game against a strong side and after the game I knew I wanted to have that chance again."

A demanding father, a radical coach and a boatload of belief - the making of Klopp

We're not favourites - Zidane

Real are attempting to become the first team since Bayern Munich (1974-1976) to win the competition three years in a row.

However, Zidane denied his side were favourites against Liverpool.

"We will not live this moment again. We have to make the most of it," he said.

"We have the same chance as Liverpool. Favourites? In the dressing room that is not what we believe."

Real have multiple European Cup winners in their side, with Ronaldo seeking to become the first player to win the competition five times in the Champions League era.

"He lives for these matches, to play in these matches," added Zidane. "That's what his life is all about. That's what makes him tick."

'Confident, calm and jovial Klopp'

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev

Jurgen Klopp was exactly as Liverpool and their fans have come to expect as he addressed the media on the eve of the Champions League final in Kiev.

Klopp, along with captain Jordan Henderson and defender Virgil van Dijk, was in calm and confident mood before facing Real Madrid - with the manager also drawing some laughs along the way.

He accepted Real's vast experience will be an advantage before the game but there is no mistaking Klopp believes Liverpool have earned themselves a huge opportunity for sixth crown here in steamy Kiev.

The obvious faith Klopp has in his players, and vice-versa, was striking in their media briefing and is clearly a key component in the way they have grown into the Champions League this season.

Real have the experience but....

Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague in Kiev

Seventeen Real Madrid players have played in the Champions League final. Liverpool have one who was on the bench and didn't even play a minute.

Real have got the better side, the better players, the better experience.

But Liverpool can win. The first minutes will be crucial.

A demanding father, a radical coach and a boatload of belief - the making of Klopp

This is a repeat of the 1981 final, which Liverpool won 1-0 thanks to an Alan Kennedy goal
Last edited by Blackleaf; May 26th, 2018 at 09:31 AM..
Go Liverpool. Real Madrid looks vulnerable; finishing 3rd in La Ligua this year behind Barcelona and Atletico. But then there's Ronaldo v. Salah.

Not sure i'd bet against RM, if i was a betting man.
Quote: Originally Posted by coldstream View Post

Go Liverpool. Real Madrid looks vulnerable; finishing 3rd in La Ligua this year behind Barcelona and Atletico. But then there's Ronaldo v. Salah.

Not sure i'd bet against RM, if i was a betting man.

Liverpool were hampered by having hapless Karius in goal rather than Mignolet and, in an amazing stroke of bad luck (for Egypt in the World Cup, too), by having a tearful Salah taken off after just 30 minutes or so with a dislocated shoulder.

In the end, two goals from British winger Gareth Bale - including a spectacular overhead kick - and one from French striker Karim Benzema proved too much for Liverpool.

Real Madrid have become the first team to win the competition in three successive years since Bayern Munich in the 1970s - and they've won it for a record 13th time.

Bale stunner, Karius mistakes and Salah injury help Real Madrid to a record 13th European title

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer in Kiev
BBC Sport
26 May 2018

Champions League final

At NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev
Attendance: 61,561

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
Benzema 51...................... Mané 55
Bale 64, 83

Gareth Bale scored one of European football's great goals to help Real Madrid overcome Liverpool and win their third successive Champions League title as goalkeeper Loris Karius suffered a personal nightmare.

Bale made his mark on another Champions League final with a magnificent overhead kick to put Real 2-1 up after 64 minutes.

Liverpool had already suffered the devastating blow of losing top scorer Mohamed Salah midway through the first half - with a shoulder injury sustained in a challenge with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos - when calamity struck for Karius.

Six minutes after half-time, the German inexplicably threw the ball against Karim Benzema, who was not even challenging with urgency, and watched in horror as the ball rolled behind him into the net.

Liverpool recovered from the shock to equalise through Sadio Mané before Bale stepped off the bench to score his wonder goal.

Gareth Bale is the first player ever to come on as a substitute and score twice in a European Cup/Champions League final

There was to be no comeback from Liverpool this time and Karius's misery was complete when he fumbled Bale's hopeful 30-yard shot behind him to seal Real's win.

It sealed Real's record 13th win in this competition, and their fourth in five seasons to give coach Zinedine Zidane this third triumph in three years.

For Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, it was disappointment again - he lost his third successive final since arriving at Anfield, having suffered defeats in the League Cup and Europa League finals of 2016.

Real Madrid have become the first team to win the European Cup/Champions League in three successive seasons since Bayern Munich between 1974 and 1976

Calamity for hapless Karius

When the story of this Champions League final is told from a Liverpool perspective, it will be the tale of Karius' nightmare alongside that of Salah's injury.

The 24-year-old German has been shown huge faith by Klopp, who brought him in from Mainz and made him first choice ahead of Simon Mignolet.

He has never fully convinced and on this, the biggest night in Liverpool's recent history, he had the sort of night to leave you wondering how he will rebuild his Anfield career.

Loris Karius made more errors leading to goals in the final against Real Madrid (two) than he had in his previous 32 competitive appearances for Liverpool

Karius inexplicably threw a clearance against Benzema for Real Madrid's opener before fumbling Bale's speculative, long-range effort into the net to snuff out any hopes of a comeback.

The keeper lay flat on the turf at the final whistle, being consoled by Real Madrid's players before apologising tearfully in front of Liverpool's fans.

Klopp clearly rates Karius but there are too many holes in his technique. That, along with his temperament, must be questioned after a complete horror show here in Kiev.

Salah setback shifted the balance of power

Ronaldo, who went off early in the Euro 2016 final with a knee injury, comforted Salah when he was substituted

The whole emphasis of the final shifted as Salah slumped to the turf for a second time after realising he could not carry on with the shoulder injury sustained in the tangle with Ramos.

Liverpool had started well and Real's deep defending hinted at the apprehension they felt faced with the attacking trio of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané.

As Salah left the pitch, inconsolable and in tears, even Liverpool's fans were temporarily hushed and it was clear Real had suddenly been given fresh impetus.

Liverpool, with the magnificent Mané leading the fight, showed commendable heart but they had been robbed of their world-class talisman who, before his substitution, had scored 33% of their goals in all competitions.

It will be the great unknown as to what might have happened had Salah stayed on but there is no question his departure was a savage blow to Liverpool and a lift for Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first player to win five Champions League titles

Bale bounces back

Bale's Real Madrid future has been under constant scrutiny this season - a quirk at a club that lives by its own rules.

The Welshman did not even make the starting line-up here and only emerged just after the hour - but within two minutes he scored one of the great Champions League goals, an overhead kick that was a triumph of athleticism and technique, and begged the question as to how Real could even contemplate life without him.

As for Bale's second goal, make no mistake - when he took on that long-range shot, he would have been street-smart enough to know Karius was living on his nerves after his earlier error.

Nacho Fernandez takes a selfie with the trophy after Real Madrid won the greatest prize in club football for a record 13th time

Bale delivered a reminder, if it were needed that he remains a world-class player.

It may just have been an expensive night for suitors such as Manchester United as his display here will have added millions to any potential transfer fee.

When asked about his future after the game, Bale told BT Sport: "I need to be playing week in, week out and that has not happened this season.

"I had an injury five, six weeks in but have been fit ever since. I have to sit down with my agent in the summer and discuss it."

Zidane the history man

Bob Paisley, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane (left to right) are the only managers to win the European Cup/Champions League three times

Zinedine Zidane has joined Liverpool's Bob Paisley and his Real Madrid predecessor Carlo Ancelotti in the elite ranks of managers to win this tournament three times - but added extra gloss by becoming the first to win it in three successive seasons.

Zidane has often been damned with faint praise about his abilities and record, despite his Champions League invincibility, by those who claim he simply keeps an outstanding team on track but he makes a nonsense of that with his tactical approach, handling of world-class players (and world-class egos) and a very happy knack of making decisive substitutions.

Three Champions League wins in three seasons ends all argument about his greatness as a coach. He is in charge of a team who know how to get the job done.

Man of the match - Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

Bale is also only the second British player to score twice in a European Cup/Champions League final, after Bobby Charlton for Manchester United in 1968

'This team is magnificent' - what they said

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, speaking to BT Sport: "Great emotions. To lift three Champions League trophies with this club, this team is magnificent. We don't quite realise what we have achieved yet.

"We are going to enjoy the moment. We had a complicated season but to finish with this makes us really happy.

"I have had a little bit of time to think about what this means. This is the status of this club. It is a legendary club, one that has won 13 Champions Leagues and I am happy to be a part of its history too."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "The plan is only to play to win, nothing else, not a lot to say. We started well and played exactly like we wanted to.

"The situation with Sergio Ramos [and Mohamed Salah] looked really bad and it was a shock for the team, we lost the positive momentum and they immediately came up.

"We dropped deep and we could not get to Luka Modric or Toni Kroos. We had to run and work, we did that and half-time came. What can I say about the goals? We scored one, they scored three."

A first in 42 years - the stats

English teams have suffered a defeat in their past seven UEFA club competition finals against Spanish opposition (four Champions League finals and three UEFA Cup/Europa League finals).

Jurgen Klopp has lost six of his seven major finals as manager, only winning the DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund in 2012.

Real Madrid started with the same XI as in the 2016-17 Champions League final; the first time a team has started with the same 11 players in different European Cup/Champions League finals (excluding replays).

Karim Benzema has scored four goals against Liverpool in the Champions League; no player has managed more (also four for Didier Drogba).

Liverpool became the first team in history to see three players score 10-plus goals in a single Champions League season (Salah 10, Firmino 10, Mane 10).

Sadio Mane is only the fourth African player to score in a European Cup/Champions League final and the first since Didier Drogba for Chelsea v Bayern Munich in 2012. The other two were by Samuel Eto'o for Barcelona in both 2009 and 2006, and Rabah Madjer for Porto in 1987.

Mane became the third Liverpool player to score 20-plus goals in all competitions this season (Salah 44 goals and Firmino 27 goals); the last time that three players hit the 20-goal mark for the club in a single campagn was 1981-82 (Dalglish, McDermott and Rush).
Last edited by Blackleaf; May 27th, 2018 at 10:53 AM..
I saw the highlights. Liverpool's keeper sucked big time. 1 goal he effectively scored on himself. The second should have been an easy save. That's the difference.

Liverpool's keeper sucked big time. 1 goal he effectively scored on himself.

We won't be seeing or hearing from him to the gulags with you ya losing bastid!

Say hi to Tommy when you get there.
Quote: Originally Posted by IdRatherBeSkiing View Post

I saw the highlights. Liverpool's keeper sucked big time. 1 goal he effectively scored on himself. The second should have been an easy save. That's the difference.

Still no need for the Twitterati death threats against him though from some Liverpool fans.

Here's a mistake he made against Bournemouth in the Premier League in 2016:

And, rather inexplicably, in this match against Sunderland in 2016 he kicked the ball straight out for a corner kick:

Police probe hate campaign against bungling goalkeeper: Liverpool's Loris Karius gets death threats after his blunders in the European Cup final

The biggest game of his life ended badly enough for blundering Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius as it was. His shocking errors led to two of Real Madrid's goals in their 3-1 Champions League final win on Saturday night, and the German goalkeeper made a tearful apology to supporters inside the stadium in Kiev. But in the hours after the match, the £25,000-a-week goalkeeper had to contend with hundreds of hate-filled messages on social media, including death threats and Nazi taunts.

Liverpool had already suffered the devastating blow of losing top scorer Mohamed Salah midway through the first half - with a shoulder injury sustained in a challenge with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos

I watched some of a replay of the match yesterday. Frankly i thought the key decider in the game was not the goaltending but Sergio Ramos' tackle of Salah. Replays clearly show Ramos hooked Salah's forearem and flung him to the ground. It was a dangerous move with perhaps intent to injure (Ramos has a history of such). He probably should have received a red card for the incident.

And Zinedine Zidane has stepped down as Real Madrid manager after 3 years and 3 straight Champion's League trophies. He'd come under some criticism for producing only 1 La Liga Championship at the time (they were 3rd this year). Goes to show that ultimately it is the domestic performance that dictates the fate of managers in European Football.