Champions League Final Preview

Champions League Final Preview

One week from today Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Liverpool side have the opportunity to topple Real Madrid and end their string of victories in Europe’s premier competition. Having won three of the last four Champions Leagues, Real Madrid enter the final with odds of 2/1. Liverpool currently sit at around 11/10 but those odds can be enhanced with a Dublinbet bonus code.

Real Madrid are something of an oddity in modern-day elite football, in that they lack the cohesion shown by some of the other world-class sides. Instead, there is a reliance on the individual to rise to the occasion and make the difference with a series of spellbindingly brilliant moments. Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio, Isco and even left back Marcelo have all show themselves capable of delivering when the pressure is on.

All, however, must settle for a chilly spot in the shadow of the club’s greatest ever player, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese goal-plunderer currently sits at 3/1 to be first goalscorer and at 14/1 to be only the fourth player, after Di Stefano, Puskás and Pierino Prati, to score a hat-trick on the biggest stage in club football. For a player always searching for a way to solidify his position as the greatest of all time, and with fifteen goals in the competition already, it is certainly a target you can expect him to aim for.

Yet Saturday’s final will be far from a formality. Despite overcoming the champions of France, Italy and Germany en route to the final, Liverpool represent the most dangerous adversary yet for Zinedine Zidane’s men. Having scored an all-time record of forty-six goals to make it to the final in Kiev, Liverpool are perhaps the most potent side in the world today. And, like Madrid, their threats are littered around the park. Roberto Firmino has ten goals to his name, while Sadio Mane has nine. Deeper in the field sits the much-maligned James Milner who having registered nine assists, has set a new Champions League record.

The player who will garner the most attention, however, is Liverpool’s Egyptian sensation, Mohamed Salah. Salah currently sits at 10/3 to be first goalscorer, justifiable odds given the brilliant season he has already enjoyed.

Where Liverpool could find themselves triumphant is by sticking to their guns and once again initiating an all-out devastating assault, the likes of which utterly annihilated Manchester City, Porto and Roma. Goals delivered in intense, suffocating bursts could prove the undoing of Real Madrid. This is reflected in the odds where a four-goal haul for Liverpool sit at 11/1.

In games of this magnitude, where free-flowing football is occasionally stifled under the burden of expectation, defenders often rise to the occasion. For Real Madrid, that man is captain Sergio Ramos, scorer of crucial goals in both the 2014 and 2016 finals. At 25/1 to score first, he represents terrific value, especially when you consider some of the supreme set-piece delivery he can rely upon.

Champions League finals are often said to be turgid affairs where good football is difficult to find. While an aesthetically pleasing brand of football may be absent, goals are almost guaranteed. For a goalless final, you have to go all the way back to 2003 and the stale encounter between Juventus and AC Milan. Goals have been so abundant in fact, that you have to go back eight years to find a final in which both sides failed to find the back of the net at least once.

Zidane vs Klopp. Ronaldo vs Salah. Benzema vs Firmino. Cohesion vs individuality. The 2018 Champions League final promises to be a classic.