CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Real Madrid won their third Champions League in three attempts thanks to a superb performance from Gareth Bale off the bench that saw him score twice. It was a game sold as Mo Salah versus Cristiano Ronaldo but when the former went off in the first half with a shoulder injury, it was up to someone else to be the hero. And Bale fit the bill.
Liverpool started better than their opponents and had a couple of chances early on as Real Madrid weathered the storm. Sergio Ramos collided with the Egyptian, Salah, and he fell to the ground in tears just minutes after it looked like he would carry on.
The exit of Liverpool’s best player gave Real Madrid impetus and they were close on a number of occasions at the end of the first 45. Benzema did have the ball in the back of the next but he was offside in the build-up. And Liverpool survived the scare.
When they appeared for the second half, Real Madrid were even more lethal in attack. Isco hit the crossbar before Benzema pounced on a loose throw by Karius and rolled the ball home in what has to be one of the stranger goals you’ll see in the Champions League final.
Sadio Mane, who stepped up when needed in place of Salah, poked home a header as he levelled matter just minutes after the opener.
If Benzema’s goal was strange, Bale’s was superb. He landed a chilena after coming off the bench to give Real Madrid the lead yet again and with minute remaining, he drove a shot towards the German keeper and it slipped through his hands.
That’s how it would end for Real Madrid as they claim three in a row and 13 European Cups in total in their history.
Two European heavyweights. On trophy. Real Madrid are aiming for their 13th and Liverpool their 6th. All eyes are on Kiev on Saturday 26 May as the Spaniards, who have dominated the competition recently, take on the English side, who have tasted their own share of sucess in Europe. Kick-off from the Olympic Stadium in the capital of Ukraine is at 20:45 CEST. The talk leading up to the Champions League final has been about Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo and the two do look like they will be fighting for a Balon d’Or in a few months. The two players have even been compared but Ronaldo says they are very, very different.
Zinedine Zidane would give nothing away when discussing his Champions League final team in the build-up. After Ronaldo, Isco and Bale started in the final game in La Liga against Villarreal and played well, it looked like they would start as the front three. But nobody seems sure. He has a full compliment of players to call on and Sergio Ramos says they will leave their souls on the pitch when the idea that Real Madrid might not be as hungry as Liverpool came up.
Liverpool have just two injuries with Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out for the final. Meanwhile, James Milner and Emre Can returned from injury recently to enter the squad for the Champions League final. Klopp laughed off claims that neither he or Zidane had a clue what they were doing regarding tactics. Everyone expects it to be a high-paced final given the German’s track record for high pressing and that alone will make it a tactically interesting battle. He stopped Ronaldo once before with Borussia Dortmund and he explains the method he used to do that before the game and it might just work again althought you suspect he has something novel up his sleeve.
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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL