UEFA Champions League final: 3 things to watch for

The Champions League final will be contested on Saturday. Here are three things to watch for when Liverpool take on Real Madrid. 

The European club season will officially come to a close Saturday in Paris when Liverpool play Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

The game at the Stade de France pits two of the best club teams in the world. These two teams also have a long history of playing each other. There is some bad blood between them.

For example, Liverpool defeated Real Madrid 1-0 in the 1981 European Cup final — the precursor to the Champions League — in Paris. Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 3-1 in the 2018 final contested in Kyiv.

Overall, Real Madrid hold a slight edge with a 4-1-3 record against Liverpool in UCL play.

In a game loaded with storylines, here are three things to watch for.

Champions League Final: Offense could win the day

Whenever you have a team that features Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah on one side and Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior on the other, then goals can’t be too far behind.

It’s true that finals are often filled with negative tactics and fear of losing. The result can be very few goals and games resolved in a penalty-kick shootout. Nonetheless, these two sides are better than that and the expectation is lots of goals.

Benzema and Salah are also in a race for the Ballon d’Or, which will be given to the best player in Europe come October. This game — and the individual performance of either player — could very well determine who wins the prize.

Champions League Final: Fatigue a possible factor

It’s been a very long season for both clubs, but this is where Real Madrid could hold an edge. Liverpool, in its quest for a historic quadruple, has played in every game of every tournament they were involved in this season.

Injuries could be a factor. Thiago Alcantara is nursing an Achilles injury. The injury isn’t thought serious, but it could keep the midfielder out of the Champions League final.

The rollercoaster that was the Premier League title race — eventually won by Manchester City this past Sunday — could have cost them emotionally. Real, on the other hand, wrapped up their season title a few weeks ago and are better rested.

Champions League Final: Liverpool is the better team

The English side may be the best club in the world at the moment and coach Jurgen Klopp has radically transformed Liverpool the past few years.

None of this will matter if Liverpool can’t get past the final hurdle. Real Madrid have the talent and history to win this thing, but Liverpool has the better players.

The Reds will need to be firing on all cylinders come Saturday. This is Liverpool’s game to lose. It remains to be seen what happens. Most will be hoping in at least an entertaining match.

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