When Liverpool and Real Madrid met in the Champions League final back in 2018, it took a sublime display by a certain Gareth Bale and a nightmare outing for keeper Loris Karius to settle a contest that also saw talisman Mohamed Salah taken off injured early on.
The 2022 edition of this battle is sure to be a much tighter affair, with Jurgen Klopp’s side having matured well since that night in Kyiv and Real Madrid’s ethos having altered with the arrival of veteran manager Carlo Ancelotti.
If you were to look at the odds offered by a list of online bookmakers, the gap between the betting on each team would be very slight, and the game is likely to go down to the wire.
There is a sense that if the game comes down to a moment of brilliance, then it’s Liverpool that would provide it, but if a winner is down to a well-drilled team effort, then Real Madrid may be the side that emerges with the trophy.
Liverpool have one rather significant disadvantage ahead of the game at the Stade-Denis in Paris, and that’s the workload that Klopp’s side have encountered this season. Vying for a quadruple is certainly starting to take its toll.
Conversely, Real Madrid have long since secured their La Liga title, meaning Ancelotti has been able to keep his best players well-rested for the big end-of-season finale.
Talking of the Spanish giants, veteran forward Karim Benzema has continued to be in the form of his career, finally proving to any lingering doubters of his obvious ability. He’s been well supported in the attacking line by Vinicius Junior, and the pair have combined for a total of 65 goals between them.
However, beyond these two, there is a lack of genuine attacking threat, which contrasts with the options available to Klopp.
The German can always rely upon Mohamed Salah, and the Egyptian has been in fine form, albeit less so in recent weeks. Klopp has also seen Sadio Mane hit a rich vein of form, and then he has the likes of Diogo Jota and new signing Luis Diaz to call upon, as well as seasoned pro Roberto Firmino. In other words, if one of their forwards is having an off day, an alternative option is going to take your defence to the cleaners.
At the back, Liverpool are dependable, as is Real Madrid, and that makes for a potentially cagey opening. The team’s respective midfield options could well end up being the key to how the game pans out.
Liverpool have the strength of the likes of Fabinho, the commitment of captain Jordan Henderson and the flair of Thiago Alcantara. Klopp, once again, then has a number of alternatives to call upon in the form of Naby Keita, James Milner, and others.
Real Madrid can certainly trust in their usual selections of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Casemiro, three players who have been the beating heart of the Bernabeu midfield for years, but what they offer is more metronomic in nature than a burst of creativity and energy.
With that in mind, a betting enthusiast may be best off backing Liverpool to edge out Real Madrid in this encounter, perhaps in extra time when perhaps Divock Origi can come on and do what he does best.