Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Round Two Revenge For the Reds?
The stage is set for a UEFA Champions League Final between two sides, Liverpool vs Real Madrid, that embodies the beautiful and illustrious history of European football like few others. These two teams have won an emphatic 28.7% of all Champions League competitions, and after this final, that percentage will be even more sensational.
Keep reading to learn about overarching storylines, BetUS betting odds, and the most attractive places to put your money in this mouth-watering fixture.
How the Tables Have Turned
In the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final, Liverpool faced one of the most formidable and established Real Madrid sides in recent decades. Los Blancos’ lined up with Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and Raphael Varane. They also had a fresh Gareth Bale ready to deploy and establish himself as the eventual hero.
Liverpool, the underdog, were three years into their rebuild with Jurgen Klopp and still had painfully apparent holes in the side. Loris Karius, Dejan Lovren, James Milner, and Roberto Firmino all started in Klopp's starting eleven, many of whom were not at the same level as Zinedine Zidane's Madrid.
Real Madrid came into this match as the favorite, and their 3-1 triumph ultimately proved this to be a fair presumption; however, fast forward to 2022, and Liverpool comes into the Champions League Final against Madrid as expected victors. Since 2018, they have enforced the holes in this team sublimely, most notably through the signings of Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Thiago, and most recently, Luis Diaz. On the other hand, Madrid lost Ronaldo, Ramos, and Varane, while an old core of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Karim Benzema have continued to age.
Liverpool is undeniably stronger than Madrid on paper today; however, in a Champions League Final, that paper is as good as Karius' performance in the 2018 final.
Paths to Paris
If there is one tip of advice Jurgen Klopp should give his Reds' before this match, it is not to underestimate Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid, as they have proved that they can defy the odds in this competition. Whether we look at their comeback vs. PSG, Chelsea, or Manchester City, it is apparent that this team has a remarkable fighting spirit.
I attribute that to the experience this side has, specifically the likes of Benzema, Modric, and Marcelo, who know what it takes to become champions. Ancelotti has instilled an inspiring level of respect and camaraderie in this team that will make Liverpool's fight for a seventh European title trickier than they would like.
Although their knockout matches were considerably easier, Klopp's side topped a challenging group of A.C. Milan, Atletico Madrid, and Porto. After seeing out a second-leg push from Villarreal in the Semi-Final, Liverpool earned themselves a spot in the final. Now, with Manchester City in pole position to win the Premier League, a seventh UCL trophy is the best Klopp's men can win this season, so they will shift all of their energy toward doing so.
We can expect Liverpool to line up in their classic 4-3-3, with the backline consisting of Alisson, Trent Alexander Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil Van Dijk, and Andy Robertson, all five of whom started against Tottenham in the 2019 UCL Final.
The midfield will feature captain Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, and Thiago, three unsung heroes that are integral to Liverpool’s success and style of play. They will have a tough test against Madrid’s stacked midfield; however, we can expect discipline from them like we always see.
Finally, the only question mark in this potential starting eleven will be whether Diogo Jota or Luis Diaz starts up front alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. Given Diaz’s scintillating form as of late, expect the Colombian to get the nod, rounding out a stellar side.
With Thibaut Courtois in between the sticks, Madrid will also be in a well-balanced 4-3-3. Ferland Mendy, David Alaba, Eder Militao, and Dani Carvajal will man the backline and have a very tough task keeping Liverpool’s lightning-front three at bay.
The midfield, the heart of this team, will include Luka Modric, Casemiro, and Toni Kroos, three midfielders that have won the competition four times apiece.
Vinicius Jr., Karim Benzema, and Federico Valverde will likely remain as a front three; however, if Ancelotti wants a super-sub off the bench, he has Rodrygo, who ended up with him being the hero against Manchester City in the Semi-Final.
These teams line up similarly, although only one slightly altered system can prevail.
The current BetUS odds for the Champions League Final are as follows:
Moneyline: Liverpool (+100) | Real Madrid (+240) | Draw (+275)
To Lift the Trophy: Liverpool (-180) | Real Madrid (+150)
Over/Under 2.5 Goals: Over (-140) | Under (+120)
I cannot praise Jurgen Klopp and this Liverpool squad enough for what they have managed to do this season, however, something about Madrid’s journey this season has just been magical and I cannot see their story having a bad ending.
Ancelotti’s side is built for adversity, and ultimately, I believe they are currently built to win their fourteenth Champions League trophy.
I would be wary of placing the moneyline on these teams, given the possibility of extra time and penalties, so betting on Real Madrid to lift the trophy at +150 is the most valuable bet here.
Regardless of what the final result is, we are in for an absolutely thrilling contest, and an exciting rematch of the 2018 Champions League Final. Given what we have seen so far in this competition this season, expect fireworks.