If you support either Liverpool and Real Madrid, then this year’s Champions League final in Kiev will have obvious interest.
But if you are a neutral observer that enjoys chaotic, slightly madcap football, then the ultra-attacking stylings of these two teams will ensure you have a date with the TV on May 16.
And as for punters, well, there is plenty to sink your teeth into from these early bookmakers’ prices.
Goals Aplenty in Continental Showpiece
Liverpool and Real have scored 162 goals between them in 72 domestic league matches this term, and 66 in 24 Champions League outings. You don’t need to be Poirot to know how this final is going to play out!
The history books suggest that the Champions League final is a typically goal-laden affair, despite the obvious pressure and caginess that governs the early going. Each of the last seven have witnessed both teams scoring (either in normal or extra time), as well as eight of the last ten, and with these two sides there is little doubt that something similar will pan out once more.
Real have won three of the last four editions of this competition, conceding in the final on each occasion, and there is a certain arrogance to the Galacticos means they are hard to overlook in showpiece occasions. They possess the talents of Cristiano Ronaldo, a personality designed for the big stage, while the likes of Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and World Cup winner Toni Kroos are hardly shrinking violets either.
But that should suit Liverpool. They will defend in numbers and counter attack with gusto, and their rather more modest approach to the game helps to bring the best out of their players.
Both teams will create plenty of chances, and you suspect they will find the net on a few occasions too. Both goalkeepers, Loris Karius and Keylor Navas, will certainly earn their pay!
Real On a Wing and a Prayer
There is a saying in boxing that ‘styles make fights’; that notion that two contrasting fighters can collide in the most entertaining manner.
There is a similar idea in football, which is why a clash between Liverpool and Real Madrid appeals much more than a Monday night contest between West Brom and Stoke.
Two teams with an unflinching attitude to attacking football should deliver a titanic encounter, and you suspect that both managers will be seizing up the other in an attempt to identify any tactical weaknesses.
Mind you, even the layman can see Real’s major deficiency. Their full backs, Marcelo and Lucas Vazquez – stepping in for the injured Daniel Carvajal, bomb forward with gusto but aren’t necessarily au fait with the defensive side of their role. That is interesting because we know that Liverpool’s key men are Sadio Mane and the irrepressible Mo Salah, and you saw against Roma how the Egyptian in particular is able to prosper when his supposed marker – this time Aleksandr Kolarov – goes AWOL.
That will be a key battle you feel – Marcelo vs Salah – and it’s one that could go a long way to determining who lifts the famous trophy on May 16.
Marcelo vs Salah: Who do you think will win that battle?
Just 2 days until the Champions League Final! pic.twitter.com/kugGTdXuHO
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 24, 2018
A Question of Value
Imagine Real Madrid hadn’t won their three Champions League titles in recent year, and instead, we simply took these two sides at face value.
Given their form in domestic and continental action, would Real be priced at 6/5 to beat Liverpool on neutral soil? And would the Reds really be a 21/10 longshot?
You suspect not, and why we aren’t suggesting that Real’s proven experience in big matches should be overlooked, by the same token it is arguable that the bookies have made a bigger deal of it than necessary.
It has taken moments of individual magic to see them past Juventus and Bayern Munich, but that luck has to run out sometime and Liverpool’s style of play suggests they can beat anybody in 90 minutes of football – as three separate triumphs over Manchester City this term testifies.
Their centre backs, Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren, have that worrying knack of hitting the self-destruct button, and a penchant for conceding late goals – they were drawing 2-2 against Roma with five minutes to play before going down 2-4 – will set alarm bells ringing amongst their supporters.
But we know that Ronaldo and Karim Benzema won’t tuck in defensively, and we know that Real have a weakness at full back. If they can dominate the middle of the pitch, and break at pace, they really do stand a fantastic chance of winning the Champions League.
At a generally available price of 2/1, you can’t say fairer than that.