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UEFA CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS ..Liverpool will be ‘on fire’ against Madrid in final, says Klopp

UEFA CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS ..Liverpool will be ‘on fire’ against Madrid in final, says Klopp
May 03
08:20 2018

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp has said his team will be “on fire” for the Champions League final in Kiev as they look to stop an experienced Real Madrid side from winning a third consecutive European title.

The Merseyside club will feature in their eighth European Cup final on May 26 after beating AS Roma 7-6 on aggregate in the semi-final on Wednesday.

It hands Liverpool an opportunity to end their six-year trophy drought and lift their first piece of silverware under Klopp’s management, having lost the finals of the League Cup and Europa League in 2016.

“We were in a League Cup final and didn’t win it,” Klopp told reporters.

“People don’t tell me in the street since then: ‘Thank you for bringing us to the final.’ We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you.

“I see no trophies after these games. They don’t hang silver medals at Melwood. That’s a pity, but that’s the game. There’s still a job to do.”

Madrid, who overcame Bayern Munich in the other semi-final, return to the final for the fourth time in last five years.

Zinedine Zidane’s side have retained a core group of players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, who have all been involved in lifting their last three European titles in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

“You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid,” the German manager added.

“I think 80 percent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire.”

The bookmakers say it’s going to be close, but favor Real Madrid to come away with its third-straight UEFA Champions League Final when it meets Liverpool on May 26 in Kiev.

Us? We’re not so sure the two sides are even as far apart as Real’s meager 5:4 odds and Liverpool’s 2:1 underdog status.

The biggest obstacle in choosing Liverpool to beat Real seems more to be aura than anything; Betting against Real in the Champions League has been a fool’s errand for some time.

Real is allowing better than a goal-per-game in league play this season, and has been a bit worse in Europe despite advancing to the final.

It’s also lost two matches in the UCL, one in the group stage against Spurs and the second leg against Juventus. Liverpool has only lost one match in European play, and has allowed goals at a similar rate to Real.

Yeah, this one’s tough to call.

Goalkeeper: No, the keepers don’t play each other, but this is the one of three areas in which we’re looking to put the positions against each other. Loris Karius has been fine, but Keylor Navas gets a slight edge thanks to his wealth big game experience in both UCL Finals and with Costa Rica. Edge: Real Madrid.

Real forwards vs. Liverpool back line: There’s no use big-upping Virgil Van Dijk or defending Dejan Lovren here; This is Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Marco Asensio going up against a back line. Gareth Bale is on the bench (maybe). While Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are strong talents, this isn’t where Jurgen Kloppis hanging his hat. Edge: Real Madrid

Liverpool forwards vs. Real back line: Here’s where it’s a little tighter, but still easy to call. Sergio Ramos is a living legend, Marcelo is close to that status, and Dani Carvajal is pretty darn good. And of Real’s eight top-rated players in the UCL, five of them are defenders (the three mentioned above as well as Raphael Varane and Nacho). Still, the Mohamed SalahRoberto FirminoSadio Mane trident is the strongest in the world (at least until Messi and Suarez find their new running mate). Edge: Liverpool.

Midfield vs. Midfield: Here’s where the tie is going to be decided, barring gaffes at the back end. Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum are fine, and James Milner is underrated, but the Reds injury troubles will cost them dearly here. Liverpool needs that trio to be at their top of the games, and hope that at least two of three of Casemiro, Modric, and Toni Kroos have off days. Even if Robertson and Alexander-Arnold flood the midfield, we wouldn’t bet on it. It gets a bit closer if Emre Can gets over his back trouble, but wouldn’t change our final judgment. Edge: Real Madrid.

Manager vs. Manager: It’s probably about time people stop looking past Zinedine Zidane as a manager. He’s not just a legendary player looming over the touch line. But even without Veljko Buvac helping out, Jurgen Klopp’s tactical acumen will serve Liverpool better over one match than Zidane’s does Real. Edge: Liverpool.

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Jide Adesina

Jide Adesina

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