Real Madrid v Liverpool: How they made the Champions League final
This Saturday evening is all set up to be a real cracker. Tears of joy and tears of anguish will be shed when the season comes to a close and the remaining trophies handed out.
Once both Fulham and Aston Villa’s fate is sealed in the Championship play-off final the scene will be set for a Champions League show-down.
Real Madrid take on Liverpool in what will surely be a straight-up attacking shoot-out. Madrid are aiming for three consecutive victories and equal Bayern Munich’s record in the 1970’s. Liverpool are searching for a sixth Champions League title.
Will it be Ronaldo magic or Liverpool’s forward-dynamo that settles it in Kiev?
The Ladbrokes News Team cast our eye over how both sides made the final.
Liverpool qualified for the Champions League for the first time in four seasons. However, Jürgen Klopp’s men have looked irrepressible for much of the tournament.
They dished out 7-0 humbling’s to both Spartak Moscow and Maribor, whilst avoiding defeat in games against Sevilla.
They did let leads slip in both games against the Spanish side but it was the first time their front-three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were getting noticed.
The Reds finished a comfortable three points ahead of second place. However, at this point their form was going under the radar thanks to Manchester City’s electric start to the season.
Madrid went into the competition as defending champions for the second-consecutive season.
Zinedine Zidane’s side disposed of APOEL 9-0 over the two games which meant it would be a three from two.
The group that also contained Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund looked to be a three-horse race but it didn’t materialise.
Dortmund were shrugged off 1-3 in Germany in the second game. Cristiano Ronaldo adding another two goals to the brace he scored in the opening fixture. This proved to be a crucial result as Madrid could only pick up a single point from their double header with Spurs.
Going into the last two fixtures of the group questions were being asked of the Madrid side and whether this campaign was one too far.
A 6-0 thrashing of APOEL was their response followed up by a 3-2 win against Dortmund to finish second.
Round of 16
Liverpool were drawn against Portuguese giants FC Porto in the first knock-out round.
Klopp was fine tuning his formula and this was yet another tie when they showed no mercy.
Sadio Mane bagged a hat-trick in Portugal and his strike partners Firmino and Salah were also on the score-sheet.
The second-leg at Anfield didn’t have to be special – and it wasn’t. A 0-0 draw in Anfield saw them safely through.
Real Madrid faced Paris Saint-Germain in a glamorous last-16 tie that many were hoping or believing would be the final.
PSG were short odds to win the competition but this was a first glimpse of a ruthless Real.
Adrien Rabiot opened the scoring in the Bernabeu but Madrid went on to win 3-1 after a late flurry of goals.
The second leg was still finely poised given Madrid’s inconsistency. However, a 2-1 win in France meant they would yet again take home the spoils.
Klopp had just seen Philippe Coutinho seal his protracted move to Barcelona. The two-legged knock-out against Manchester City was to be a true test of this Liverpool team.
Liverpool showed they could come out the blocks quickly throughout the season. But to do it against City in the Champions League showed a fearlessness that got the whole of Europe to take note.
Three goals inside 30 minutes took the tie away from City. Gabriel Jesus’ early goal in the second-leg brought the tie back to life.
However, the counter-attacking threat of Liverpool is hard to contain. When Salah and Firmino scored in the second half it put some real gloss on a tactical master-class from Klopp.
Real Madrid took on Italian champions Juventus in the last-eight. A 3-0 win in Turin looked to be enough and gave us the first real taste that Madrid had really turned up.
Ronaldo would make it five goals in the knock-out stages whilst Marcelo added a third away goal.
What happened in the return-leg was hard to explain as Juve stormed into a 2-0 lead.
When Blaise Matuidi bundled in a third for Allegri’s side there only looked to be one winner.
However, it was Ronaldo who would have the last say, again. A 98th minute penalty sent Los Blancos through.
There was real momentum behind Liverpool’s campaign now. Despatching City 5-1 on aggregate got the fans dreaming.
Roma lay in wait this time. Liverpool started favourites despite the Italian side seeing off Barcelona in the last-eight.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s looked like they had a game plan for much of the first half. But that’s when the clinical Salah took control. Two-nil at half-time proved Klopp had fine-tuned the ruthless edge.
It was 5-0 before the 70 minute mark. If only this was the final. Two late goals from Roma were a jab in the stomach for Liverpool but they went into the second leg with a lead intact.
A crazy second-leg played out as Roma triumphed 4-2. But strangely Liverpool never looked like succumbing to the same fate as Barcelona.
The damage was done in the first leg – off to Kiev they go!
Madrid had their third domestic champion in a row. The challenge of Bayern Munich would be a big one after sneaking past a valiant Juventus.
The first leg was a carbon-copy of much of their campaign so far. They looked unconvincing and conceded early. However, Zidane would draw plaudits and show once again he can turn a game on its head.
The substitutions of both Lucas Vazquez and crucially Marco Asensio on to the field turned the game in Real’s favour.
Bayern missed a hatful of chances over the 180 minutes and fell short.
Asensio would score the winner in a 2-1 away win proving just how merciless they can be.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing