| Saturday, May 26th |
UEFA Champions League Final | NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine
7:45PM GMT/2:45 PM EST
The 63rd Champions League final will be played in just over 24 hours by two of the four most successful teams in European history. Liverpool Football Club have won an English record number of European Cups with five while Real Madrid have won an incredible 12 – the equivalent to the amount of times all English clubs combined have lifted the Champions League trophy.
It is our first Champions League final in 11 years. Real Madrid will be playing their fourth UCL final in five years. But if anyone can overthrow Los Blancos and end their European winning streak, it’s Jürgen Klopp’s Mighty Reds. This final has the ideal setting for a changing over of the guard if you will as Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid’s average age is 29,3 with Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Luca Modric already over 30, while Klopp’s Liverpool’s average age is 25,3. Liverpool have broken the all-time record for goals in a single UEFA Champions League season (46) this season, whilst our front three have broken the UEFA Champions League record (28) set by Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2013-14 season, scoring a staggering 29 goals in the competition.
Both teams possess a fighting spirit and a never say die attitude. But Liverpool’s attacking qualities pose exactly the kind of threat that has caused Madrid’s defense several problems this season.
Projected Real Madrid Line-up: 4-3-3:
Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Benzema, Ronaldo, Bale
Projected Liverpool Line-up: 4-3-3:
Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Zinedine Zidane has a tough choice to make with all his star players being fully fit for tomorrow night. It would be fitting for him to start the same front three who have won him two consecutive Champions League finals – the prolific trio of Benzema, Bale and Cristiano.
In contrast, Jürgen Klopp does not have the luxury of squad depth due to several first team players being unavailable due to injuries.
To cope with Liverpool’s lightning quick front three, Real Madrid will have to play a tightly held setup which allows little, if any space at all, as Firmino is the master of finding spaces where there are none and the slightest opportunity will see him setup Salah or Mané to exploit that in an instant.
What the Managers Had to Say
Zinedine Zidane: We’re so delighted to be here for another CL final. We’re not going to live this moment again. It’ll stay in the past. Tomorrow will never be repeated so we have to make the most of it. We might be a bit under pressure, but that’s life. There are two teams in football, you have to understand how an opponent can hurt you and control it. And you have to hurt them when you have the ball. This is the worst moment for a coach, deciding the team because some won’t put a jersey on and some will be on the bench and not play at all. But that’s my responsibility. That’s my job.
Jürgen Klopp: We don’t have the same quality as bench as Real Madrid because Vazquez and Asensio are young but have unbelievable quality as well as whoever sits beside them. It’s not about comparing all their good parts. We’ll have the best bench available to us in weeks tomorrow night. We are as fresh as we can be. Fitness will not be an issue tomorrow. To win a final, each team in the past needed a bit of luck. That’s what we need tomorrow as well. We need to be ready for all the challenges in the game. But we will never compare anything they have with what we don’t have. We’re fine with our tools. We want to use them. Maybe a few clubs have better things that we have - but they are not in the final. We want to do it our way and then we’ll see where it leads to.
Milorad Mažić will referee the 2018 UEFA Champions League final and he will be assisted by his countrymen Milovan Ristić and Dalibor Djurdjević. The fourth official will be Clément Turpin from France, and the two additional assistant referees, Nenad Djokić and Danilo Grujić, are also from Serbia. A Serbian reserve assistant referee – Nemanja Petrović – completes the refereeing team.
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST tomorrow and fans can find their local UEFA Champions League final broadcast partner(s) here and BT Sport will livestream the UEFA Champions League final on YouTube, as well as on its application and website. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the build-up to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.