The Champions League Final is all set. On May 28th at 3:00 pm Eastern time, it’s Liverpool vs Real Madrid. Predictions for all sports contests can be found at Bet Us.
The two teams have had drastically different routes to the final. Liverpool had a favorable route in the knockout stage, requiring a recovering win at Villareal after they went down 2-0 in the second leg which tied the contest on aggregate. Madrid came back from the dead against favorites PSG, then blew the lead and got it back vs Chelsea at the Bernabeau, and finally scored two goals in the last minute and an extra-time penalty to defeat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Both teams each have their strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a look into how the two teams stack up against one another.
These two teams faced each other in the final back in 2018. At halftime the game was nil-nil. Then Sadio Mane put the English side up a goal seven minutes after the break, only to be let down by a couple of historic miscues by goalkeeper Loris Karius, and an incredible Greth Bale bicycle kick goal which gave them the lead. The 3-1 defeat haunted Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for a year until he reached another final and came out on top.
Liverpool plays a 4-3-3 formation. They depend on their best players, their wingers, to supply the attack. They build up by getting the ball into the midfield, feeding the flanks, and putting in crosses. Their fullbacks fly forward and act as wingers on extreme occasions.
Madrid plays a very different style of football. Former Merseyside manager Carlo Ancelotti sets them up in a 4-2-3-1 scheme with everything being funneled through the holding midfielders and world-class forward Karim Benzema, who is playing his best season of football thus far.
They look to feed the midfield, get the ball to Benzema, and let him be a distributor as well for his supporting midfield three.
Liverpool Defense vs. Madrid Attack
Liverpool’s defense is solid as a rock, led by one of the top center-backs in the world, Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk. Trent Alexander-Arnold and left-back Andy Robertson are also the greatest attacking pair of fullbacks in the world, but sometimes struggle to defend creative and sizeable wingers as they aren’t all that strong.
Karim Benzema vs. Van Dijk will be quite the matchup, and the two will likely take one another out of the game. It will be left-winger and Brazil superstar Vinicius Jr. going up against Alexander-Arnold that may decide this contest. If Vini can get beyond TAA on multiple occasions, they’ll capitalize, and Alisson won’t be able to do anything about it.
Madrid Defense vs. Liverpool Attack
Madrid’s defense has been shaky in the Champions League, which is why the pundits are calling for a high-scoring affair.
Éder Militão is Madrid’s top center-back, but his lack of size may hurt him when Liverpool is on a run crossing the ball every few seconds. Liverpool’s lack of size in their attack though may let him off the hook.
Center forwards Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will be the options at the number nine spot if Klopp chooses to select one of them, but neither all very imposing in the air. Firmino provides great assistance in build-up play while Jota is a natural goal scorer in front of the net.
It will likely be the left-winger once again facing off against the right-back that could decide this match. Dani Carvajal is out of his prime and his lack of pace these days will hurt against class wingers like Mane and Mo Salah. Luis Diaz has also entered the fold as a consistent producer for the Reds.
The Midfield Battle
Liverpool has been rotating their midfield a bit throughout the season but remains consistent in every competition they play in starting a flat three in the middle. If you’d like to learn more about how this flat three is leading them to a Premier League title charge, you can check out Bet Us.
Thiago has come from Bayern and transformed how Liverpool can play through the middle, as they aren’t completely dependent on the flanks anymore. Fabinho is a solid player in the center of that midfield and plays as more of a defensive anchor.
On the other side, Luka Modric and Casemiro have the job of funneling all the offensive attacks and stopping entrance into the forwards. If Modric and Casemiro can force Liverpool to do all their work on the flanks, becoming a one-dimensioned team, they’ll have a solid chance at winning this match.
Whoever plays in the number ten position of Madrid, whether that be the Uruguayan Valverde or the experienced Toni Kroos, they’ll have to check towards the holding midfielders and receive the ball to feet when they’re struggling to get it into Benzema.