Championship Sundays. Cup finals. Today at last, is the largest competition of them all— the UEFA Champions League final in Kyiv, Ukraine. Liverpool have finally shed the skin of their successful past. The Merseyside faithful will hope to shine on the biggest stage to win their first Champions League title in 13 seasons. On the other hand, Los Galácticos of Spain strive for perfection. Yes, a three-peat. The last club to do so was; as the Sonor drums to build a crescendo, Bayern Munich!
Of course, Die Roten managed to win the UEFA Cup three consecutive seasons (1974-76). Let all Bayern fans sing ‘Stern des Südens’ with a glass of Paulaner in their right hand.
Maybe not so much, considering that most Bayern fans, if not all, believe Die Roten should be playing in the final instead of the 4-3 loss that occurred just 25 days ago. At any rate, the bar has been set high for Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Real Madrid are the favorites. But revenge is sweet, especially considering the fact that Heynckes and the lads could easily have reached the final if a whistle or two went their way or should there have been five more minutes of stoppage time. Perhaps if Keylor Navas didn’t succeed with his best Tim Howard impression from the 2014 World Cup, this story would have been written drastically different.
So, with the expectation of Bayern fans staying loyal to the powerful color of red, sing all: You’ll Never Walk Alone!
Liverpool go for glory
There is good news coming out of the Liverpool camp. Reds manager, Jurgen Klopp, announced that German international, Emre Can, will be available and on the bench for today’s match. The holding midfielder hasn’t appeared for the club since mid-March but will be accompanied by Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Ragnar Klavan, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana.
May the Bayern faithful hope that Liverpool have their shooting boots on today. Their strategy all season has been centered around outscoring their opponents. The largest sample came during the quarterfinal stage against domestic foes, Manchester City. The Reds scored three goals in the first leg and two in the second. They would beat that performance by scoring seven over two legs against AS Roma in the semifinals. Yet the reason being is that over those two stages, Liverpool allowed seven goals. To make things simple; in their last three Champions League matches, Liverpool have conceded at least two goals each. But this is the final and anything can happen.
English Premier League Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah has scored goals in the Champions League as well. Along with fellow forward, Roberto Firmino, Salah has scored ten goals, placing him second in the competition. Sadio Mane is listed in fourth win 10. Who’s first? You guessed it— Cristiano Ronaldo (15).
Regardless, Liverpool have the better Champions League record than opposing side Real Madrid.
Liverpool: 7 Wins, 4 Draws, 1 Losses
Real Madrid: 8 Wins, 2 Draws, 2 Losses
Real Madrid strive for perfection
As mentioned, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 goals in the famous UEFA competition, alone. His teammates have managed to duplicate that over the twelve matches played, winning eight. Madrid had to pass Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and our beloved Bayern Munich to get to the final. The 4-1 thrashing against Juventus in last year’s final will be at the front of Madrid fans’ minds; however, Zinedine Zidane understands that anything can happen in a final. Along with the two cups he’s won as a manager, Zidane won the UEFA Cup as a player in his first year at Real Madrid in 2002.
Will Spanish giants take home the King of Europe title once again or will Liverpool bring pride back to England?
How to Watch
Real Madrid vs. Liverpool (Champions League Final)
Date/Time: Saturday, May 26, 2:45 p.m. ET / 7:45 p.m. GMT
TV: Fox, ESPN Deportes (USA), BT Sports 2 (UK)
Stream: Fox Soccer Match Pass, ESPN+ (USA), BT Sport Live (UK)