Expect the unexpected – and a lot of goals – in one of the most open Champions League finals in years as Real Madrid takes on Liverpool in Kiev

It’s finally that time of the year. The most thrilling for football fans. The Champions League final is here. Not only that: it’s between two very exciting sides, and with phenomenal firepower up front. Cristiano Ronaldo versus Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino versus Isco, and much much more. Liverpool against Real Madrid promises to be spectacular. Expect no goalless draw.

Both clubs have had a similar season: Liverpool have ended the Premier League with a comfortable top four finish, Real Madrid have dropped out of the title race early on and finished third in La Liga. They haven’t won anything else: the Champions League is their chance to do so. All in. Who wins, has the biggest prize possible. The one who loses goes home without any silverware.

No one is absent amongst the big names. We could mention Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who’s played a key role for Jurgen Klopp for months, but it’s not a big absentee. Ronaldo will be there, so will Salah. The duel within the game for the Ballon d’Or is on. Only Lionel Messi lifting the World Cup could change things.

Liverpool were last in a Champions League final in 2007, last won it in 2005. Madrid lifted the two most recent trophies. There’s a difference there, on many levels. But Zinedine Zidane made it clear: “We are as hungry to win as they are.” And this has been key for Real Madrid, and encapsulated by their main man, Ronaldo. It’s a never-ending path to eternal glory. There’s no final point to reach, just constant progress.

When it matters most, Madrid show up. Liverpool have risked elimination against Roma, Madrid against Juventus and Bayern, but Los Blancos are unique in winning when they have to. The experience, the quality of their key players and Liverpool’s average midfield and wobbly backline will struggle against the likes of Toni Kroos, Isco and Ronaldo.

Real Madrid will bring this to the pitch on the night. Liverpool are a worse side, undoubtedly. Their defence and midfield is surely of a lower level. But Klopp is a great manager, one who gets the best out of his players. Zidane is less experienced – what a paradox – but has been perfect since at Real Madrid. He simply never loses in the Champions League. And at this level these are crucial factors.

Liverpool will have to be themselves: aggressive and dangerous up front, whilst conceding space at the back. And they need to hope Madrid doesn’t make the most of the space at the back. Los Blancos will, inevitably, play as they know. Firstly, because it got them to three Champions League titles in four seasons.

Secondly, because they have the supreme class to dictate the tempo they want. Luka Modric and Kroos have shown once again this season how they run the show, how they decide when to accelerate and attack and when to control the game. Whilst knowing how and when to suffer.

This experience and pragmatism should make a difference, as it has for the past two finals. Nobody wins like Real Madrid, and Liverpool lack the squad and malice to counter this.

It will therefore be difficult for Liverpool. But they know as a club how to win these trophies, and will play with a free mind. It is very difficult to predict the final result. It can go any way possible. But of one thing we can be quite certain: it will be exciting, and we should expect a lot of goals. Ronaldo, Salah, Firmino and the rest will be there to entertain. But then when it gets down to business, it will be Real Madrid who will lift the trophy. That’s what they do.

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