Champions League final: Liverpool v Real Madrid – live! | Champions League


The starting XIs

Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Jota, Tsimikas, Matip, Elliott.

Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Substitutes: Lunin, Hazard, Nacho, Asensio, Marcelo, Lucas Vazquez, Bale, Dani Ceballos, Rodrygo, Camavinga, Isco, Mariano.

Referee Clement Turpin (France).

Jurgen Klopp speaks

“It’s the comeback kings against the mentality monsters – nice headline.

“The pitch is … okay. It’s not a great pitch but it’s absolutely okay.

“We expect a very strong side: vary calm, very experienced, very cool, but we’ll try to give them a bit of pain.

The fans back in Madrid outside the Santiago Bernabeu look like they’re looking forward to the game.
The fans back in Madrid outside the Santiago Bernabeu look like they’re looking forward to the game. Photograph: Óscar del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

Liverpool and Real met in the 2018 final in Kyiv, when Gareth Bale (and poor Lorus Karius) gave Real a 3-1 win. Both teams have evolved since then, and Liverpool have five changes from the XI that started that game.

Out Karius, Dejan Lovren, Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner, Roberto Firmino.

In Alisson, Ibrahima Konate, Thiago Alcantara, Fabinho, Luis Diaz.

Liverpool v Real Madrid: a brief history

Thiago, who was injured before the Carabao Cup final, may be heading for more heartbreak. He is jogging on his own, with Naby Keita warming up with the rest of the starting XI. It’ll be desperately cruel if Thiago misses out again.

“I know you were joking,” says Joe Pearson, “but your readers should know that it will be noon in Arizona at kickoff. Just trying to be helpful.”

I actually wasn’t joking, I just had the first of tonight’s myriad brainfades. 1am?!

Real Madrid fans before kick off.
A cup final wouldn’t be a cup final without a tin foil cup. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

“If Carlo Ancelotti’s eyebrow is going to go arch-shaped today, I can’t think of a better place than the city known for the Arc de … No, please, not another Real Madrid Triomphe!” weeps Peter Oh. “May the merengues be forever stuck at unlucky number 13! YNWA!”

Another plug for Barney Ronay’s preview

“Thanks, Michael Smith,” writes Simon McMahon. “I kept Peter Cormack off my list because I though he was too niche, forgetting of course that this is the MBM. He led Cowdenbeath to promotion as manager in his only season in charge of the Blue Brazil, so I’m pretty sure this is the only email that will mention both 1978 Anglo-Scottish Cup winners Bristol City and the now Scottish Lowland League side in a Champions League final live blog.”

A grown man

If Real win tonight, Carlo Ancelotti will become the first manager in history to win four Champions Leagues. But what does he actually do, eh.

The starting XIs

Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Jota, Tsimikas, Matip, Elliott.

Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Substitutes: Lunin, Hazard, Nacho, Asensio, Marcelo, Lucas Vazquez, Bale, Dani Ceballos, Rodrygo, Camavinga, Isco, Mariano.

Referee Clement Turpin (France).

“This is a tricky game for the neutrals,” says Kári Tulinius. “Usually there’s an underdog to root for, or a team that plays especially entertainingly, or some notorious sh1thouses to sway undecided hearts. But here are two giant clubs, who play fun football, with nary a sh1thouse in sight. I guess I’ll just let the narrative of the match pull my affections to and fro. Enjoy the match!”

Nostalgia corner

What’s [Gerd] Müller doing? Nothing. What’s Müller doing? Still nothing. Müller? Nothing. Wait. Where’s he gone?

One-nil.

Liverpool team news: Thiago and Konate start

Thiago Alcantara is fit to start for Liverpool. Well, he starts. Fabinho has also made it, and Ibrahima Konate is preferred to Joel Matip as the right-sided centre-back.

Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Jota, Tsimikas, Matip, Elliott.

“Always put one in the brain, indeed; sage advice from the Coens’ Miller’s Crossing,” says Charles Antaki of the gratuitous Johnny Caspar reference in the preamble. “But perhaps there are one or two other apt titles tonight: The Man Who Wasn’t There (if Thiago doesn’t make it), No Country for Old Men (if Kroos’ and Modric’s age catches up with them) and of course True Grit (and possibly Intolerable Cruelty) if it goes to extra-time and penalties.”

Don’t forget Raising Arizona: I think it kicks off at 1am there.

My favourite thing that I learnt this week: that Luis Diaz’s dog is called Toni Kroos.

— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) May 28, 2022

You can’t be no one else

“Look,” says Michael Smith, “I’m neither Scottish nor a Liverpool fan but I have to add the forgotten man Peter Cormack to Simon McMahon’s list (18:16). Yes they all won lots of stuff but only Peter added the Anglo-Scottish Cup to his honours (with my team Bristol City since you ask). Beat that Dalglish!”

Forty-one years ago yesterday

The matchwinner Alan Kennedy kisses the European Cup after Liverpool’s win over Real Madrid in 1981
The matchwinner Alan Kennedy kisses the European Cup after Liverpool’s win over Real Madrid in 1981. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

“Like probably a lot of Scots tonight, I’ve got to admit to rooting for Liverpool,” says Simon McMahon. “Well why wouldn’t you, for a club that lists Shankly, Yeats, St. John, Hansen, Dalglish, Wark, Souness and Robertson among its greats, some of whom even played for Dundee United, conquerors of the five-time European champions in the 1984 … ah let’s not go there, eh? 5-4 after extra time couldn’t happen twice in one day, could it…”

No chance. 5-4 after 90 minutes, on the other hand.

More pre-match reading

Real Madrid team news: Valverde starts

They’ve announced their team early – no biggie – and it’s the XI we expected.

Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Substitutes: Lunin, Hazard, Nacho, Asensio, Marcelo, Lucas Vazquez, Bale, Dani Ceballos, Rodrygo, Camavinga, Isco, Mariano.

There are five survivors from the 2018 final: Carvajal, Benzema and, of course, the midfield three.

“My brother, Bert, is on a cruise of the British Isles,” writes Brian Cruickshank. “He sent this to me in Canada earlier today. Some way to watch the game: ‘Just announced over the p.a. that the ship has received confirmation that they can broadcast the game tonite at 7:30pm. We will be off the north coast of Scotland heading to Invergordon – it will be on the big screen under the stars, in the casino TVs and in our stateroom TVs as well. Think I’ll bundle up and watch it on deck on my favourite bar stool. Should be an experience!’

“How much do you think missing out on the league title last weekend will affect Liverpool tonight?” wonders David Wall. “Given how poorly they started against Wolves (who could have been out of sight if they’d been able to finish their first-half chances) it seemed that Everton’s win the Thursday before, ruling out the quintuple (four trophies plus Everton being relegated), was playing on their minds. Now the quadruple is also ruled out, might that affect them too?”

I don’t see it having a negative impact, but I think it will have less of a positive impact, if that makes sense. If Liverpool were going for the Quadruple tonight, I think they’d be close to unstoppable.

Some games are bigger than others

Liverpool support Emily Farley has gone the extra mile ahead of tonight’s game
Liverpool supporter Emily Farley has gone the extra mile ahead of tonight’s game. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Jonathan Wilson’s tactical preview

When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go

Early team news

There are two big decisions for Jurgen Klopp – whether to risk Thiago in midfield (all reports suggests Fabinho will be okay to return) and whether to go with the pace of Ibrahima Konate or the nous and ball-playing ability of Joel Matip at centre-back. If Thiago doesn’t make it, James Milner, 36, looks a good bet to take on Madrid’s midfield geriatricos.

* If indeed it is – both teams can use five subs, so it doesn’t matter too much if Thiago’s achilles goes in the first five minutes.

Carlo Ancelotti’s team looks easy to predict. His only decision is on the right wing, where the industrious Fede Valverde is likely to be preferred to Rodrygo. Two reasons for that: Valverde gives extra protection in midfield – he’s very good in the Ray Parlour role, as it should be known – and Rodrygo has made a devastating impact from the bench in this season’s competition.

Possible XIs

Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz.

Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

Preamble

Hello and welcome to live coverage of Europe’s biggest custody battle. The identities of Liverpool and Real Madrid are inextricably linked to the Champions League, and both clubs feel a kind of moral ownership of that giant trophy. Tonight one of them will lift it again, and the other will be left to wrestle with a bit of the old cognitive dissonance as they walk straight past it on the podium.

Both clubs have an intimidating sense of destiny at the business end of the Champions League. This season it’s even more powerful: Real because of their form in this competition, Liverpool because of their form in every competition. Defeat in a Champions League final is always unthinkable for these two. In 2021-22, it’s a concept they barely understand.

Real, in particular, simply don’t lose Champions League finals: just three out of 16, the last in 1981, when they were beaten by… yep, Liverpool, in Paris. Liverpool’s most recent defeat in the final was also against tonight’s opponents, an emotional night in Kyiv four years ago that took out a lease in Mo Salah’s subconscious. Since Jurgen Klopp came to Anfield, Liverpool have only been knocked out of the Champions League by teams whose name ends in ‘Madrid’. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that will still be the case after this game.

That’s just about the only sure thing. Usually, we have a rough idea – or at least we think we do – of how a big game might pan out. Ahead of this game, there is nary a scooby. That’s mainly because of a Madrid side who have cheerily defenestrated logic all season. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that Liverpool could feasibly win 5-0 or Real 7-3.

If Liverpool take control of this game, they need to remember Johnny Caspar’s advice: always put one in the brain (NB: link is from an 18-rated film). Madrid have come back from the dead in every round, culminating in their unfathomable defeat of Manchester City in the semi-finals. Liverpool, by contrast – and there are a lot of contrasts tonight – haven’t been behind in a knockout tie. The moral of this story will become apparent around 11pm when the victors start writing the history of the 2021-22 Champions League. If Madrid win, they can claim this as the greatest European campaign since GOATs began.

Three weeks ago, Liverpool were strongish favourites for this match, but their legs and muscles have started showing the strain of a uniquely demanding season. Real have had their feet up for the last 24 days. You can argue it either way: that Liverpool are too tired or that Madrid are too battle-softened.

Even the individual duel that everyone is talking about, Vinicius Jr v Trent Alexander-Arnold, is more complicated than the usual story of attacker v defender or midfielder v midfielder. Vinicius could be the matchwinner, as he was when Real beat Liverpool in the quarter-final last year. But then so could Alexander-Arnold, who plays like no right-back in football history.

There are a gazillion points of interest, but in the name of brevity we’ll settle for a few. Whether Real can do the same Hulk Hogan homage in the Stade de France as they have in the heady atmosphere of the Bernabeu; whether Thiago Alcantara is fit to start and, if not, whether Jurgen Klopp risks Naby Keita after his minor shocker against Madrid last season; how many times Luis Diaz and Karim Benzema will leave us agape; and the contrast in styles, between Carlo Ancelotti’s free jazz and Jurgen Klopp’s heavy metal.

Madrid are chasing a record-extending 14th Champions League. Never mind other clubs: no country other than Spain (duh) has won more than that. For Liverpool it would be No7, moving them joint second with AC Milan and – this stuff matters, let’s not pretend it doesn’t – four clear of Manchester United. Oh, and seven clear of Manchester City. It would also complete a deluxe version of the treble they did under Gerard Houllier in 2000-01.

The modern Champions League is as good as football gets, maybe as good it has ever gotten, but in recent years the greatest drama has been reserved for the quarters and semis. Most of the finals have been either a bit dull or a bit one-sided. This, please, is going to be different.

Kick off 8pm in Liverpool, 9pm in Paris and Madrid.





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