Welp, it’s the day that soccer fans all across the world have been waiting for…The Champions League Final. One team in the final has been here many times, including winning it last year against Juventus. Their opponent is an unlikely hero in Liverpool who are riding the hot hand of Ballon d’Or candidate Mohamed Salah. Recently in an article posted to Thoughts From the Bench, we discussed how Salah is one of the best players on the planet at the moment behind Messi, Neymar and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
When you look at this final it’s almost hard to imagine an outcome where Madrid don’t come out as the winners strictly based on name value. However, as many teams have proved in the past, name value isn’t the most important aspect of soccer. Liverpool finished fourth in the premiere league this season and were set to have a rough season with the departure if Coutinho, but surprisingly to many Mo Salah has found his second wind with Liverpool.
This matchup will be a fun one for all fans with two of the worlds best attacking threats in Ronaldo and Salah going head to hear.
Let’s look at some matchups that will decide this final.
Mohamed Salah vs Marcelo
When you look at Real Madrid as a team, there aren’t many holes to exploit especially defensively. One of the longest standing players on the squad is Marcelo, who is an integral part of every single second for Madrid. Marcelo will have the important position of guarding one of the worlds most dangerous attacking forces, and this should easily be a matchup both teams feel good about. For one thing, it’s safe to assume that Marcelo won’t push as much forward with the looming chance of a Salah break away.
Robert Firmino vs Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos has been the single most solid center back for a team since Cannavaro with Juventus years ago. Ramos is the prototypical defender whose ability to score on free kicks and corners is almost as important as shutting down the opposition. There is a similar issue in this game, however, with Ramos not being able to freely push up since Firmino has placed his boots on the conversation of one of the worlds top strikers. This matchup won’t be as crucial as the Salah vs Marcelo, but make no mistake that Firmino will push Ramos abilities to the edge.
Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Cristiano Ronaldo
Many of you might be asking who exactly is this Trent fellow and why is he in the same sentence as one of the greatest soccer players of all time. The teenage left back has met every challenge sent his way since breaking into the starting lineup, but none compare to covering a five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Ronaldo will be the driving matter that gives Real Madrid the upper hand unless the teen can find a way to shut him down.
James Milner vs Luka Modric
Miler has had a long and solid career in soccer and has proven himself one of the better minds in the sport. His defensive style is uniquely matched by a strong assist effort which needs to be shut down by Modric to prove a Madrid win. Milner averages an assist every 87 minutes, meaning if you believe in stats theres a Liverpool good waiting for the squad in Kiev. Modric on the other hand is purely one of the best midfielders in the world. This is his best season as a Blanc and would almost unanimously be picked as the best midfielder on the field, if not on the planet.
Jordan Henderson vs Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos has been absolutely wonderful for Madrid over the years, and look for Real Madrid’s engine to continue his wonderful passing style in Kiev. Kroos has one of the purest passes on the planet and can set up a goal opportunity from almost anywhere on the field. Kroos will find a tough matchup today against Henderson, however, who plays a similar style as Kroos with a more defensive approach. Henderson is a deep-lying midfielder who provides the foundation to many of Liverpool attacks.