Long Road to the Champions League Final

Champions League Final
This picture taken on May 22, 2018 in Paris, shows the logos on jerseys of Real Madrid and Liverpool FC. - Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC will play the UEFA Champions League final football match in Kiev on May 26, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Liverpool have previously won Europe’s most prestigious prize five times. However, Real Madrid have previously won the Champions League 12 times. Consequentially, fans of neither club will be quiet about their success. On Saturday 26 May, Liverpool will hope to make it six times, likewise, Real Madrid will hope to make it 13. The Olympic Stadium in Kiev will be host to the ferocious battle that is the Champions League final.

Champions League Final: How They Got Here

Liverpool’s Road to Kiev

Qualifiers and Group Stages

Liverpool have had an easier run-in compared to Madrid. However, you can only play what’s in front of you, so credit to the Merseysiders. In recent times, they have been knocked out of competitions by much poorer sides so Liverpool have done well to get to the final.

Jürgen Klopp’s side beat Hoffenheim in the qualifiers to reach the group stages of the competition. Liverpool found themselves in Group E alongside Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor. Their group stage was a frustrating one for Klopp.

They opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Sevilla. Their second match finished in a 1-1 draw way to Spartak Moscow. However, Liverpool rediscovered their confidence by beating Maribor 7-0 in Slovenia. The return tie at Anfield ended 3-0 to Klopp’s men. Meanwhile, Sevilla came behind from 3-0 to earn a 3-3 draw in Spain. Nonetheless, Liverpool beat Spartak Moscow 7-0 at home to go through to the round of 16.

Knockout Stages

The Reds then beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their round of 16 clash. Liverpool had done enough to get through to the quarter-final. After hammering the Portuguese side in the first leg, the second leg finished 0-0.

Liverpool drew Manchester City in the quarter-finals. Perhaps this was meant to be their toughest test in the run in before the final. City, eventual Premier League winners, were the expected winners of this tie. However, Pep Guardiola was left shocked as his side lost 3-0 away at Anfield in the first leg. Hence Manchester City scoring multiple goals per game all season, the tie was still to be won. Unfortunately for City, Guardiola got his tactics wrong and Liverpool came out 2-1 victors.

After coming back to knockout Barcelona, Roma were the side that Liverpool were to face in the semi-finals. The preferred draw to either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. In the first leg at Anfield, Liverpool were comfortably 5-0 up. Amazingly, in the final moments of the game, the Reds conceded two goals to heap pressure on themselves. Their home leg ended 5-2 so it was all to play for in Rome. Similar story in Rome, for most of the game Liverpool were comfortable but Roma scored a couple of goals towards the end. Liverpool had done enough on aggregate as Roma won 4-2 on the night.

Scenes of joy amongst players and fans alike as Liverpool were through to their first Champions League final since 2007.

Real Madrid’s Road to Kiev

Group Stages

Unlike Liverpool, Madrid had already qualified. Also unlike Liverpool, Madrid found themselves in a much tougher group. Group H consisted of Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund and APOEL Nicosia.

The current champions opened their campaign with a 3-0 win against APOEL at the Bernabeu. The next game, the Spanish side beat Dortmund 3-1 in Germany. Moving on, Tottenham done well to earn a 1-1 draw away to the champions. Spurs done even better in the return fixture as they beat Madrid 3-1 at Wembley. However, the next game was a walk in the park for Madrid. They beat Apoel 6-0. In their final game, they beat Dortmund 3-2 to finish the group in second place.

Knockout Stages

Madrid drew Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16. Two of the biggest clubs in Europe in such an early tie made for a mouth-watering clash. The first leg was played in Madrid whilst Los Blancos won 3-1, the tie was still open. However, PSG failed as they went down 2-1 to Madrid in the return leg. Zinedine Zidane was through to another European quarter-final.

The men from Madrid drew the Serie A champions Juventus in the quarter-final round. The first leg took place in Turin. As a result of a great performance, Madrid won 3-0. The Bianconeri shook the Bernabeu in the return leg. Juventus where winning 3-0 and it looked to be going to extra time. However, Juventus gave away a controversial penalty in the dying moments of the game. Consequently, Cristiano Ronaldo slotted the penalty into the top right-hand corner to send Zidane’s men to the semi-finals.

Another first leg away tie for Madrid. However, this time it was away in Munich. Madrid won again, this time it was 2-1 for Zidane. The return leg ended in 2-2 at the Bernabeu. Los Blancos were through to their third Champions League final in three years.

The Final

This should make for an exciting game, as both sides boast potent attacks. Both offences are fantastic and both defences are there to be got at. The two game changers are Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both wingers who are capable of scoring anytime to change the game. Even if one side is up by two or three goals, the game will not be over until the final whistle. However, there will only be one winner and this is the hardest Champions League final in years to predict what will happen.

Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images

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