“Scores are a huge manipulator of reality in football”. (Jorge Valdano, 11 powers of a leader). This quote from the Argentinian ex-player is mostly true, but there is also an exception, at least if we mean Real Madrid in the Champions League.
The team coached by Carlo Ancelotti will play a new Champions League final this Saturday May 28th after being knocked out for 80 minutes against the PSG of Leo Messi, Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappé; another 15 against the Chelsea of Thomas Tuchel; and, specially, about 80 minutes against Manchester City of Pep Guardiola.
I am saying against all odds because all of PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City were the favorites and were better than Real Madrid for the most part of their knockouts. However, non of the mentioned clubes have neither the history nor the epic that Real do.
In fact, Real Madrid have overcome all the obstacles basically because they are Real Madrid. That is it. Non other team in Europe or the world would have been able to make it through.
The Liverpool of Jürgen Klopp will be in front. They already know how it feels to lift a Champions League trophy and they have made it to this final by winning the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup by ending second in the Premier League as well with 92 points. A competition that, with these points, they would have won in an 82% of chances (being champions in 24 out of the 29 editions).
Liverpool have had an easier path to the final, as they have beaten Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal. In fact, they should be the favorites under normal conditions, as they are better both physically and at a higher playing level at the moment.
But of course, their rival is the team with the most Champions League trophies in history (13) and have in their roster players who have already lifted it four times ((Karim Benzema, Luka Modric or Dani Carvajal, among others).
“If you face Real Madrid you know that they always win in a final”
In the end history counts in these kind of games and Real Madrid have plenty of options to conquer a title that they have been unable to lift in the last four years. And that is plenty of time for the ‘Whites’.
The last precedents back Real Madrid. In fact, their last Champions League final was precisely against Klopp’s Liverpool. However, the ‘Reds’ now have a more solid base five years later and, specially, a more reliable keeper than Loris Karius, their biggest handicap in that final.
Furthermore, Salah and Mané, who are two of the main stars for the English team, are in their best moment ahead of the game. In the case of the Egyptian, he even has an extra motivation and the need to square up after his injury in the 25th minute in the 2018 final.
“We can’t compare the experience of Real Madrid, but this is our third final in the last five years”
On the other hand, players like Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr are also very motivated ahead of this game. The Frenchman because he knows that he will be the next golden ball if he wins this title and the Brazilian because this would be his first Champions League trophy and a perfect way to top off an extraordinary season by him.
All in all, we have a great football show ahead of us and the best team will be for sure the winner because the best always wins this kind of games.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Edit José Manuel Calviño.