The answer is simply “No” and all Liverpool fans who think that the Reds have more that 30% – 35% chance to win the Champions League in Kiev would better not fool themselves. There are few questions Liverpool fans should ask themselves in order to mentally prepare themselves for the Kiev clash against Real Madrid?
Is it a surprise that Liverpool will play in the Champions League final?
No, it is not, as Liverpool have been unbeaten in the Champions League for almost the whole season until the 4:2 loss in Rome in the semi-final. However, even then the result in 60th minute of the game was 2:2 and the Jurgen Klopp’s side could afford to play a little bit more tactically rather than be 100 percent into the game. They allowed Roma to play a little bit more with the ball and decided to defend, which was a mistake and allowed the Italians to score 2 goals. Despite the loss Liverpool controlled the game in both semi-finals and Roma were nowhere near to win the clash as they did in the quarter-finals when they kicked Barcelona out of the tournament.
During the quarter-finals Liverpool have outplayed Manchester City who have been much better team than Reds in the Premier League. Both at Anfield and at Etihad, Liverpool played much better than City and deserved to progress to the semi-final.
I also need to say that despite that the Reds fully deserved to go to Kiev, there have been a number of referees’ decisions which went their way. Both Manchester City and Roma fans were unhappy with the decisions made by the refs and it was hard to deny that there were a number of poor decisions in during the quarter-finals and the semi-finals.
However, I don’t think that Liverpool would receive any advances from the referees during the Champions League finals in Kiev as they play Real Madrid, one of the very few teams, who have been tolerated a lot of by referees through the years. So, Liverpool must be prepared to face the reality and to give everything in a game against a team who has been superior to them within the last 10 years.
Are Reds a team who is prepared to win against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain on a regular basis?
No they aren’t as the current Liverpool team simply don’t have enough depth in the squad and enough top players on their bench. The sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona might not slowed the Jurgen Klopp’s side progress, but Liverpool have lost a player who is proven game changer.
On the contrary, if we look that Real Madrid’s squad we’d see a young player like Dani Ceballos, who has been one of the Betis leaders last season and who has become one of the stars of Spain’s U21 national team. He has played only 12 times for Ram Madrid this season, scoring 2 goals and despite being a world-class young player, he is not a first choice at Santiago Bernabeu and it is even hard for him to be selected in the match day squad.
Other Real players like Jesus Vallejo, Nacho, Theo Hernandez, Borja Mayoral and Mateo Kovacic find themselves very often on the bench or are left outside the match day squad. Even a superstar like Gareth Bale, who has virtually won Real Madrid one Champions League final is not guaranteed a place in the Real Madrid’s starting eleven.
Liverpool not just lack the quality that their Champions League opponents have, but Jurgen Klopp’s options for selection are also severely restricted due to injuries. The right wing-back and England International Nathaniel Clyne has just returned from injury and simply has not played enough games to be considered as a first choice right defender for the match in Kiev.
Joel Matip who is supposed to be Virjil Van Dijk’s partner in the Liverpool’s central defence is out until the end of the season and Jurgen Klopp should play with Dejan Lovren, who despite his recent good form is much slower than Matip and has a record of serious defensive mistakes at Liverpool.
Another universal defender who can play both as central half or as wing back – Joe Gomez is also not in contention due to injury.
In the midfield Liverpool lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has been instrumental to their win against Manchester City in the quarter-finals. Jurgen Klopp cannot use the versatile player Emre Can, who is probably the Liverpool’s best defensive midfielder at the moment. Another important player for the Reds – Adam Lallana has recently returned to training and is ready to play, but is not even close to his best form.
Liverpool have the brilliant attacking trio in the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, who have enjoyed a very successful season. The Red’s fans should swear on their fitness as Liverpool don’t have good replacements for any of them on the bench. Dominic Solanke has played in the last game of the season against Brighton and even scored his first Premier League goal. Solankee is a player with a great potential, but he is not at the same level with Salah, Mane and Firmino.
What are the Liverpool weaknesses which Real will use?
Real Madrid played with a five man midfield in their first leg semi-final against Bayern in Munich that Los Blancos won 1:2. Real used Casemiro as holding midfielder and Lucas Vazquez, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Isco as offensive midfielders in front of him. Christiano Ronaldo played as alone striker upfront.
During the second leg at Santiago Bernabeu, the Madrid team played with more offensive formation. Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio played in a four man midfield while Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo led the attack. Lucas Vazquez have played as a wing-back.
If Liverpool decide to play with 3 man midfield, who are not at their best, Real Madrid will most likely dominate the central zone and this might disrupt the Reds game. Set pieces is another thing that Liverpool should worry about. Both Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronald are very strong on set pieces, which has been one of the Reds weaknesses within the last few seasons.
It is also unclear whether the young Trent-Alexander Arnold would be able to cancel Cristiano Ronaldo on the left side of the Real’s attack.
The Liverpools biggest advantage over Real Madrid is that the Reds are much faster than their competitors. In fact they are the team who has the greatest pace in this year’s Champions League and this should frighten Los Blancos.
How would Reds win against Real Madrid?
Jurgen Klopp should make an important tactical decision! Should he play with 4-3-3 against Real Madrid or to go with a formation similar to the one that Reds used at Anfield against Brighton. It was a 4-4-2 formation in which Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have virtually been part of a four man midfield alongside Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson.
At the moment the Liverpool’s best midfielders to play in a 4-3-3 formation are Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Jordan Henderson. If Jurgen Klopp’s side manages to replicate in Kiev the game against Manchester City, Liverpool can be considered as the likely winner. This means that the Reds should surrender the ball to Real Madrid and be prepared have around 40% possession. However, they would compensate it with a lot of pace and should move the ball very fast to the front three – Said Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
It will be very hard for Real Madrid to stop the Liverpool attacking trio as Los Blancos looked very slow against Bayern Munich. Mohamed Sarah’s performance will be once again very important for the Reds, not just in attack where he will need to outperform Marcelo. He would also need to hold the Brazilian wing-back back in his own half and to ease the pressure on the left flank of the Liverpool’s defence.
There is one thing for certain, Livеrpool could win against Real only by playing a brave a attacking football.