Spanish giants Real Madrid are seeking their third consecutive Champions League trophy after lifting that of 2016 and 2017 but they facing a spirited English side in the shape of Liverpool.
Liverpool will seek their 6th trophy in the competition whereas Madrid who are the custodians also look out for their 13th trophy, with both sides highly unlikely to deviate from the aggressive, attacking style of play that has taken them this far. Expect fireworks.
The 1981 repeat occurs on Saturday and Kick off is 6:45 pm GMT at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has some big decisions to make about who to pick in Kiev, with Gareth Bale, Lucas Vázquezand Isco all in contention to start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
However, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has a settled starting XI and far less of a tactical headache. The Reds have only one gear – full throttle – and he knows that his best chance of a world famous victory will be through outscoring their illustrious opponents.
He could yet spring a surprise in the middle of the park, while an untimely injury may well force his hand.
Klopp was in a relaxed mood in the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on the eve
of the game as the Premier League side seeks to upset the 12-time
European champions, who will start the game as favourites.
“Experience is very important. I am pretty sure in the second before
the game Real Madrid will be more confident than we are, but the game
doesn’t end in that second, it only starts,” Klopp said.
“When you see Real Madrid play you say ‘wow they are really strong’
but they never played us.”
Liverpool are seeking a sixth European title but none of Klopp’s
squad has played in a Champions League final.
Klopp, who is in his second Champions League final after losing with
Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich in 2013, said he had his
strongest substitutes’ bench for some time.
“We are in a much better position then we were weeks ago (with
injuries). We are as fresh as we can be after these two weeks,” he
Zidane holds now traditional Real Madrid team barbecue
Last Friday, Real held their now traditional team barbecue at their Valdebebas training ground. Los Merengues’ head coach, Zinedine Zidane, had also organised the lunch – attended by the players and their families – before last year’s final win over Juventus in Cardiff, in a bid to let the squad unwind together amid the media frenzy in the build-up to the clash, and to strengthen the already strong bonds of friendship within the group. He also put on a similar event at the start of the season.
Another ritual that Real have returned to is the now customary photograph of Cristiano Ronaldo, Casemiro and Marcelo preparing to board the plane at Madrid airport. The trio were snapped together before flying to France for Real’s last-16 second leg against Paris Saint-Germain in March and, after securing a comprehensive aggregate victory at the Parc des Princes, they repeated the shot in the next two rounds – then did likewise ahead of their flight to Kiev on Thursday.
Zidane being asked about selection again now, and says that it’s the toughest moment in a coach’s job deciding who to leave out and who to include. But that’s my responsibility, he concludes. And with that he’s off!