Real Madrid and the club’s players might well be taking Liverpool seriously as opponents, but you wouldn’t know it to listen to the press in Spain or many of the club’s fans who seem to see Sunday’s final as a coronation rather than an actual football match.
To suggest the mood is one of confidence would be an understatement, and despite a largely underwhelming domestic season for the Spanish giants, even the likes of Vincente del Bosque believe every Liverpool player is inferior to their Madrid counterpart.
“Real Madrid have a great squad,” Del Bosque said during an interview on Spanish radio. “They are the best club in Europe at the moment and must show that on Saturday. I don’t see even one Liverpool player who would improve Real Madrid, not even Salah.”
Bold words from the former Madrid and Spain manager about a side that earned one more point than Liverpool domestically and finished 17 back of Barcelona—which rather makes del Bosque sound like a man who hasn’t watched much football this season.
To suggest that Salah, right now, doesn’t provide more in attack than either of Gareth Bale or Lucas Vázquez, is patently ridiculous and more than a little bizarre. Similarly, that Roberto Firmino wouldn’t improve their striker situation is a difficult opinion to take seriously.
Up until Firmino signed a new Liverpool deal, removing any release clause in the process, he was seen by many in the Madrid media and fanbase as the obvious target to replace Karim Benzema this summer. Now, though, Del Bosque wouldn’t have him.
Meanwhile in defence, Virgil van Dijk would be a lock for Madrid’s starting eleven alongside Sergio Ramos; and while he wouldn’t be a Madrid transfer target, on form heading into the final on Saturday James Milner would have to be in any combined eleven.
Madrid are the better side here. Despite a generally sub-par domestic season. That’s clear, and you wouldn’t find a Liverpool fan who would argue otherwise. The idea that there are no current Liverpool players who would improve them, though, is bizarre.
As Manchester City were in the quarter final, Madrid here are favourites. Like City, they’d get seven in a combined XI. And like City, a lot of people who really should be expected to know better seem to think they’ve already won. We know happened to City.