With domestic football now over for another season in several countries across Europe, all eyes now turn to a highly-anticipated Champions League final, and one in which Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will travel to Kiev as underdogs, given the fact that their opponents are searching for an incredible fourth trophy in five years.
Not many however can quite put their finger on the game, and always, anyone can win club football’s most coveted prize on the night. There will however undoubtedly be key areas on the pitch where the game will be won and lost, with both side’s forward lines crucial to how they perform, especially considering these two teams boast the most goals for this campaign; Liverpool top with 40, ahead of Real Madrid in second with 30. At the back, the Reds have conceded 13 so far, with the Galacticos once again following suit with 15. Therefore, many key battles will undeniably play their part come Saturday evening in Kiev.
Cristiano Ronaldo v Trent Alexander-Arnold
There is perhaps no better place to start than on Real Madrid’s left with none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, who has earned his plaudits in yet another phenomenal campaign in Europe. The Portugal international stands tall at the top of the goal scoring charts in this season’s competition with 15. Couple those goals with three assists and the skilful forward presents the greatest risk to Klopp’s men, who will more than likely be relying on youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold to halt his dangerous and dazzling feet. The young Scouser has shone brightly this season, and has capped it all off with a call up to the national team in this summer’s World Cup, yet this will be an entirely new experience for the full back. He has proved his ability time and again, particularly in earlier rounds against the talents of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, yet his inexperience has cost him on occasion, and so it remains to be seen whether or not he can put an end to Ronaldo’s dominance on European football.
Roberto Firmino v Sergio Ramos
With ten goals and seven assists in this season’s Champions League, along with plenty more in the Premier League, Roberto Firmino is well on his way to world-class status, and so Saturday provides him with another opportunity to showcase just how special he really is. Already adored by the Liverpool faithful, the Brazilian has the potential to cause Madrid captain Sergio Ramos all sorts of problems at the back, and if he gets past him once or twice, the entire footballing community are all too familiar with the Spanish international’s issues with discipline. Firmino’s trickery and guile could prove too dangerous for the defender to comfortably deal with, and should he be forced into a risky tackle early on, or else forced into calling upon his likely centre-back partner Raphael Varane for assistance, the door may open for the pace of Sadio Mane to ease his way in on goal.
Mohamed Salah v Marcelo
It may quite simply come down to an intriguing battle between Ronaldo and the sheer brilliance of Mohamed Salah, and it may simply be who can find the net more often between the two of them. While Alexander-Arnold has been tasked with stopping the former, it will be Brazilian left-back Marcelo tasked with preventing Salah from doing what he does best. The tricky full back certainly has the pace and ability to cause his own damage going forward, but he will be called upon time after time by his team-mates to hold his position and do his number one job; defend. Salah has one more opportunity this season to showcase his talents to the world, and while Marcelo is definitely one of the best in the business, it may be the case that the Egyptian is in such good form that nothing or no one will get in his way of lifting that Champions League trophy.