As Referee Damir Skomina blows the final whistle signalling the end of the semi-final second leg clash between Roma and Liverpool, we turn our attentions to the UEFA Champions League Finals. A clash that will see Jurgen Klopp’s men face-off Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid in Kiev, Ukraine.
At the end of a 2-2 return leg in Madrid, Real sealed their place in this year’s UCL final with a 4-3 aggregate scoreline over Bayern Munich. A 2-1 away victory for Madrid was enough to give their side a much needed advantage heading into the second leg.
Los Blancos played both legs on the backfoot but were still able to clinch a place in the final. A mixture of a solid defensive performance, Coach’s tactics and some controversial refereeing decisions were all Madrid need to overcome the Bavarians.
In the first leg, the Spanish side conceded a goal from Joshua Kimmich, that showed a lot of grit from the German side, but at half time Zidane changed Isco for Asensio which set the tone for a comeback with Marcelo and the former getting the goals.
The second leg saw Madrid yet again concede the first goal scored by the same player as in the first leg,then at the stroke of half – time poor officiating cost Bayern a penalty after Marcelo handled the ball the 18-yard box with the culprit confessing after the match. A Benzema double(both scored with the help of slack defending by the Reds defence) was enough to send Zidane’s men to a third straight Final with Keylor Navas’ heroics keeping the Bayern strikers at bay except for an equalizer scored by James Rodriguez against his parent club.
Liverpool had a slightly easier ride in the semi-final but could have been undone by their own their own undoings.
The first leg saw the Reds race to 5-0 lead at Anfield with doubles from Salah and Firmino combined with a Mane goal sealing the deal against Roma. As the match wore on, Jurgen Klopp brought off Salah and it seemed the team’s concentration went off with him as they let in two needless goals(one from a penalty) to give Roma hope of a turn around in the second leg.
The second leg in Rome started with the home side going all out for the goals. That didn’t pan out well for the Romans at first as a wayward pass from Nainggolan saw Firmino go on to set Sadio Mane for the opener of the night. A Nainggolan brace, one from Eden Dzeko and a Milner own goal wasn’t enough for Roma to steal a win as they did against Barcelona in the previous round as a second Liverpool goal by Giorgino Wijnaldum made it to high a mountain for Roma to climb.
With Real Madrid and Liverpool set to face off in Kiev come the 26th of May, we will see two teams who play attacking end-to-end football slug it out against each other for the trophy.
The Los Blancos will love to win their fourth UCL trophy in five years and their third on the spin. The Spanish side have won the Champions League a record 12 times and would want to win it a thirteenth time. The title holders are a side very experienced in Europe.
In Cristiano Ronaldo they possess a star striker who is a serial winner who will be a torn in the flesh of the Liverpool defenders and will want to make his mark in the finals. Zinedine Zidane’s side play a two-man attack pairing Ronaldo with either one of Benzema, Vasquez or Bale who are players that can also hurt any defence.
Their midfield is one of the best in Europe. It’s a mixture of grit and flair with the likes of Modric and Kroos able to control the midfield while they possess one of the best defensive midfielders in Casemiro.
Keylor Navas showed just how good he is and maybe a Finals heroics similar to that of the semi-finals might just be enough to discourage the club from getting either one of Manchester United’s David De Gea or Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois in the summer. He will also get some much needed protection from the likes of Ramos and Varane just ahead of him.
Jurgen Klopp’s men will be no push overs themselves. The Reds possess one of the best attacking triumvirate in European football. The trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohammed Salah have even eclipsed the famous ‘BBC’ and ‘MSN’ trios by becoming highest scoring attacking trio in UCL history with 29 – goals.
Where problem may arise for the Reds may be in the midfield and defence. So effective on their day, the Liverpool defence always have the tendency to lose concentration as the game wears on as evident in both legs of the semi final matches where they conceded goals late into the game.
Jurgen Klopp will have to work on the mentality of his players as any slip ups could be disastrous as the Madrid team has the experience and tactical discipline to take advantage of any of such slip ups.
Whatever the outcome, be sure to expect an entertaining affair as the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex come alive on the 26th of May.