If you are a Liverpool fan, you may well feel that you have a few scores to settle after what happened this past weekend with Manchester City clinching the Premier League title in dramatic fashion.
On Saturday, the Reds travel to Paris to play in their third Champions League final in five years and the team they face is Real Madrid, the team that beat them 3-1 in the very first of those finals.
That game is best remembered as the Loris Karius nightmare, when the German keeper gifted two goals to Madrid in what was his last competitive game for the club. Gareth Bale also added a stunning overhead kick as Real claimed their 13th Champions League trophy.
So you can forgive Liverpool fans for feeling that the football gods may owe them one this weekend, but this year, Real Madrid are the team that have had the football fates on their side as they have come through three amazing knockout stage ties to reach the final.
It all promises to be a very intriguing match when the game gets underway on Saturday night and we’re going to preview the match in more detail and of course give you our top betting picks for the game, with odds courtesy of bet365 Sport.
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How Did Each Team Reach Paris?
Let’s now take a look at how Liverpool and Real Madrid reached the final in Paris.
Liverpool – Road To The Stade De France
Champions League 2021/22 Results
Group Stage 1 – v AC Milan (H) – W 3-2 (Tomori OG 9, Salah 48, Henderson 69)Group Stage 2 – v FC Porto (A) – W 5-1 (Salah 18,60, Mane 45, Firmino 77.81)Group Stage 3 – v Atletico Madrid (A) – W 3-2 (Salah 8,78(p), Keita 13)Group Stage 4 – v Atletico Madrid (H) – W 2-0 (Jota 13, Mane 21)Group Stage 5 – v FC Porto (H) – W 2-0 (Thiago 52, Salah 70)Group Stage 6 – v AC Milan (A) – W 2-1 (Salah 36, Origi 55)
Group Stage Table – Group B
Liverpool – 18ptsAtletico Madrid – 7ptsFC Porto – 5ptsAC Milan – 4pts
Liverpool were drawn in what many people felt was the ‘group of death’ in the Champions League but Jurgen Klopp’s team made light work of what looked a very tough draw beating their three opponents home and away to progress into the knockout phase with a 100% record and maximum points.
As one of the eight top seeds, Liverpool were drawn out of the hat against Inter Milan for the Round of 16, with the first leg to be played in the San Siro, the venue for Liverpool’s last group game against AC Milan.
Round of 16 1st Leg – v Inter Milan (A) – W 2-0 (Firmino 75, Salah 83)Round of 16 2nd Leg – v Inter Milan (H) – L 0-1Quarter Final 1st Leg – v Benfica (A) – W 3-1 (Konate 17, Mane 34, Diaz 87)Quarter Final 2nd Leg – v Benfica (H) – D 3-3 (Konate 21, Firmino 55,65)Semi Final 1st Leg – v Villarreal (H) – W 2-0 (Estupinan OG 53, Mane 55)Semi Final 2nd Leg – v Villarreal (A) – W 3-2 (Fabinho 62, Diaz 67, Mane 74)
Liverpool were made to fight hard by Inter across the two legs of action. The Italians did have the Reds level heading into the final 15 minutes in Madrid, but goals from Firmino and Salah put Liverpool 2-0 up.
At Anfield though, Inter scored a fine goal through Lautaro Martinez and made life difficult for the Reds as they inflicted Liverpool’s first (and so far only) defeat in the competition, however the home side still progressed 2-1 on aggregate.
Benfica were next up and a 3-1 away victory was followed by a 3-3 home draw as the Reds progressed into the semifinals where Villarreal were beaten 2-0 at Anfield before the second leg in Spain.
A frantic first half saw Villarreal pull the tie level, but Liverpool scored three second half goals to comfortably progress into the final 5-2 on aggregate.
Real Madrid – Road To The Stade De France
Champions League 2021/22 Results – Group Stage
Group Stage 1 – v Inter Milan (A) – W 1-0 – (Rodrygo 89)Group Stage 2 – v Sheriff Tiraspol (H) – L 1-2 – (Benzema 65(p))Group Stage 3 – v Shakhtar Donetsk (A) – W 5-0 (Kryvtsov OG 37, Vini Jr 51,56, Rodrygo 65, Benzema 90)Group Stage 4 – v Shakhtar Donetsk (H) – W 2-1 (Benzema 14,61)Group Stage 5 – v Sheriff Tiraspol (A) – W 3-0 (Alaba 30, Kroos 45, Benzema 55)Group Stage 6 – v Inter Milan (H) – W 2-0 (Kroos 17, Asensio 79)
Group Stage Table – Group D
Real Madrid – 15ptsInter Milan – 10ptsSheriff Tiraspol – 7ptsShakhtar Donetsk – 2pts
Real suffered a somewhat humiliating 2-1 home defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol on Matchday 2 of the Group Stages, but they were perfect after that, winning all of their other five games to top the group comfortably ahead of Inter Milan.
They entered the knockout phase as a top seed but seemingly drew the toughest possible opponent in the Round of 16 when paired with French Champions Paris St Germain.
Round of 16 1st Leg – v Paris St Germain (A) – L 0-1Round of 16 2nd Leg – v Paris St Germain (H) – W 3-1 (Benzema 61,76,78)Quarter Final 1st Leg – v Chelsea (A) – W 3-1 (Benzema 21,24,46)Quarter Final 2nd Leg – v Chelsea (H) – L 2-3 (aet) (Rodrygo 80, Benzema 96)Semi Final 1st Leg – v Manchester City (A) – L 3-4 (Benzema 33,82(p), Vinicius Jr. 55)Semi Final 2nd Leg – v Manchester City (H) – W 3-1 (aet) (Rodrygo 90, 90+1, Benzema(p) 95)
Real’s progress though the knockout stages has been almost kamikaze at times and they have ridden their luck to get to the final in each of the three games.
Against Paris St Germain, Real lost the away leg 1-0 in France and then went 1-0 down at home, both to Kylian Mbappe strikes. However, an incredible 17-minute hat-trick from Karim Benzema, in a game that Real looked well-beaten in, somehow turned the game around and saw Real through.
In the quarterfinals, Real drew Chelsea and put in a superb display at Stamford Bridge to take a 3-1 lead into the second leg with Karim Benzema netting another superb hat-trick.
But in the second leg, Chelsea incredibly went 3-0 up at the Bernebeu and seemed set to knock out Real, until substitute Rodrygo netted an equaliser and Benzema scored in extra time to allow the Spaniards to progress into the semi finals.
There Manchester City lay in wait and in a pulsating first leg, City took a 4-3 advantage into the away leg and they led 5-3 as the game went into the last minute at the Bernebeu with Real looking set to be eliminated.
However Rodrygo was the hero once again netting twice in two minutes, to bring Real level and force extra time, where a Benzema penalty put Real in front in the space of five minutes.
They now head to Paris aiming for a 14th Champions League victory.
Real Madrid’s main injury concern is David Alaba. The centre back has been out since limping off at half time in the first leg of the semi final against Manchester City, but his adductor muscle injury is believed to be responding well and he could be in contention for a starting place on Saturday.
Liverpool have a number of injury worries, especially in midfield. Fabinho should be fit to start as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury and it is 50/50 whether Thiago Alcantara will be fit enough to play after he came off at half time with a foot injury. Scans have revealed it is not a serious injury, but he will face a race against time to be fit for Saturday.
Divock Origi, who scored in the 2019 Champions League Final victory over Tottenham, will miss out with a hamstring injury before he makes his summer move to AC Milan.
Predicted Liverpool Team – (4-3-3) – Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, van Dijk, Matip, Fabinho (Milner), Henderson, Keita (Thiago), Diaz, Mane, Salah.Predicted Real Madrid Team – (4-3-3) – Courtois, Carvajal, Mendy, Alaba (Nacho), Eder Militao, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Vinicius Jr., Benzema, Valverde (Hazard)
Naby Keita will likely start for Liverpool if Thiago is not fit, while Milner could be in for a start if Fabinho cannot play, although Curtis Jones or Harvey Elliott could also come in.
For Real Madrid, Nacho will cover for Alaba if he is not fit, while reports in Spain suggest Eden Hazard could be in for a surprising recall to the team in place of Valverde or Rodrygo.
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Betting Tips – Who Wins On Saturday?
Liverpool are even money favourites to land the win on Saturday, Real are 5/2 and it is 11/4 the draw with bet365 at the time of writing.
My gut feeling is that Liverpool will get the job done here. They have a score to settle with Real Madrid and I think the Spaniards have ridden their luck to get to the final thus far. It will be a close game but I see Liverpool winning in 90 minutes.
My tips are Liverpool to win and both teams to score, which is an 11/4 shot, plus a 2-1 correct score win for Liverpool which is an 8/1 chance.
All will unfold on Saturday at the Stade de France, so tune in to see who comes out on top!