After the exciting semi-finals of this year’s Champions League, we finally know, that it will be Liverpool and Real Madrid facing off against each other in Kiev. After the Spanish giants knocked out Jupp Heynckes’ ambitious Bayern Munich side 4-3 on aggregate, Liverpool joined them in the final defeating Rome 7-6 on aggregate.
However, despite both scorelines being close, Liverpool’s victory over the Italian side never seemed to be in danger, while Real Madrid won despite their opponents arguably being the better team.
Three reasons why Liverpool will be delighted to see Real Madrid instead of Bayern in the final.
Jürgen Klopp’s Bayern curse
If there was one person who breathed a huge sigh of relief after knowing that it wouldn’t be Bayern waiting in the final, it will have been the Reds’ manager Jürgen Klopp. The energetic German’s final record is fairly dismal and the Bavarians were the ones who kicked it all off.
Since Borussia Dortmund’s stunning 5-2 DFB-Pokal victory over Bayern in 2012, Klopp hasn’t won a final and his losing streak began with Bayern taking revenge in the Champions League in 2013. Dortmund suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at the hand of Heynckes’ treble-winning side, courtesy of Arjen Robben’s late goal.
While curses may be considered a myth by some people, it seems safe to say that the German would not have liked the prospect of facing off against a side that has provided him with many bad memories throughout his stint in the Bundesliga.
In contrast, Klopp had a very respectable record against Real Madrid with Borussia Dortmund, winning three and losing two, with one tie ending in a draw. The German hasn’t faced off with the Galacticos as the manager of Liverpool yet, though.
But he will surely take encouragement in some special Champions League evenings he has had against the Spanish powerhouse.
Real Madrid could become complacent
Real Madrid’s Champions League three-peat bid this season was undoubtedly supported by their poor domestic campaign. Since their defeat to Leganes in the Copa del Rey, it is the only competition they had a realistic chance of winning.
While they have battled through tough opponents to get to Kiev, there have been signs that Zidane’s side lacks the desire to go all the way. When they have shown that necessary desire, it has reflected more in hard-fought defending rather than dazzling attack play.
Admittedly, winning three Champions League trophies in the last four years is a fantastic accomplishment and no player would admit that he is lacking the competitive edge to make it four in five. But at times the hunger seems to be missing from this Madrid side.
Liverpool will be coming into the final like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, while Real, on the other hand, are accustomed to keeping the end of May free to play for Europe’s most prestigious trophy – a factor that could be decisive in the outcome of the match.
The better side was eliminated in the semis
In a closely fought contest, Real Madrid knocked out Bayern Munich and the reactions of the players said a lot about the outcome of the match. While Mats Hummels admitted that the defeat was “an even bigger disappointment” than last year, Toni Kroos added that Real perhaps “weren’t the best team, but we were more effective”.
The Blancos did what no team does better than them at the moment, sneaking victories on the grandest of stages and, more importantly, staying calm in the process. Ulreich has been magnificent as Bayern’s stand-in goalkeeper but his lack of experience on the big stage clearly showed in Benzema’s second goal.
While Real will be delighted to go to the final, you can’t help but think that Bayern deserved it just a little bit more. In any case, they showed up Real’s weaknesses and Liverpool will have 180 minutes of footage showing how you push the Spanish giants to the edge.
Should Liverpool be more prolific in front of goal, which admittedly shouldn’t be a problem given their fantastic attack, Real Madrid could be in for a rude awakening in Kiev.
Benzema capitalises on a huge blunder from Sven Ulreich. 2-1 Real Madrid pic.twitter.com/uRcdVgKq8F
— Terje (@TerjeGIFs) May 1, 2018