Liverpool and Real Madrid are the top two scoring teams in the Champions League and their players are at the top of the scoring charts. All the form points to an open attacking match which should lend itself to goals when the final takes place in Kiev on Saturday. Both sides are better going forwards than defending so the fixture has goals written all over it but the tone will be set in the opening exchanges. In any case this is a tie that Liverpool can win.
These massive finals can often be disappointing spectacles because teams are more concerned about not conceding than scoring goals. The FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United was boring because neither side tried to take an early initiative. Once Chelsea had scored they were happy to defend in numbers and United did not have the pace or imagination to break the defence down. I’m sure the fans wouldn’t mind losing 4-3 if the players at least tried to score goals.
The match wasn’t quite a must win for Jose Mourinho but the performance and approach was not good enough for United fans. Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham have had success playing exciting football and many matches have been a joy to watch for neutrals. City won the Premier League in a canter, Liverpool are contesting the Champions League final and Tottenham finished third in the league. It’s galling for United fans that the team won nothing and the football was poor.
Liverpool have scored 40 goals in 12 Champions League matches this season. Real Madrid have managed the second best tally but with 10 goals less. Liverpool have been champions of Europe five times and Real Madrid are 12 times winners of the European Cup and Champions League. The Spanish side have lifted the trophy in the last two seasons and three times in the last four years. Liverpool finished fourth in the Premier League and Real were third in La Liga. Both sides qualified for next season’s Champions League so winning the trophy in Kiev is the now the main issue.
Finishing behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and 17 points off the pace is not typical Real but they have delivered in the Champions League. They have eliminated the champions of France, Italy and Germany. Real Madrid required four chances to score twice against Bayern Munich who found the net once from eight opportunities. Despite underachieving in the league Real have been highly efficient in Europe. The Liverpool defence will struggle not to concede in the final.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 goals in the Champions League which makes him the leading scorer. That’s half Madrid’s total so if his team score two goals statistically he should score once. The three Liverpool forward players have scored 29 goals between them but Mohamed Salah is by some distance the leading scorer in the Premier League. He is the first player to score 32 goals in a 38 match season. Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have made valuable contributions in the Champions League. At least one of that group should find the net in the final.
The Champions League final could come down to a shootout between Ronaldo and Salah. The winner of that contest will probably be on the winning side and would then become the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or. Lionel Messi and Ronaldo have won the award in every year since 2008 but Salah could help Liverpool win the Champions League and then be recognised as the best player in the world.