BusinessDay

UEFA Champions League 2022: Who will wear the crown?

…€889m vs €780m players valuation

Dreams have a way of coming through for some people, while for some others it may come against expectations.

Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool forward had after defeating Villarreal FC of Spain declared he would love to meet Real Madrid in the final of the most glamorous UEFA clubs’ football competition.

According to the Egyptian-born Liverpool striker “We have a score to settle.” He had dreamt of meeting Real Madrid in the final of the UEFA 2022 league to possibly avenge the 2018 defeat.

The forward was forced out of the sides’ 2018 meeting through injury and watched the Reds fall to a 3-1 defeat. Hence, as the Jürgen Klopp tutored side got to the final, Salah desired a ‘pound of flesh’ for the defeat met to Liverpool in 2018 by the Los Blancos side.

No doubt, the Liverpool star is looking forward to the chance to set the record straight against Real Madrid in their upcoming champions’ league final rematch.

It is a universal truism to say that Liverpool is enjoying a remarkable season in 2022 which could yet end with a quadruple, having won the League Cup, the FA cup beating Chelsea on penalties to lift the trophy, they are inches to lifting the English Premier League trophy should Manchester City slip, and now the UEFA Champion League trophy should they defeat Real Madrid come May 28.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, has already been crowned Spanish champions even with four matches to the end of the league. However, “the White’s” campaign in the European most coveted clubs’ cup has defied both belief and description after a series of stellar comebacks.

Football lovers and fans are anxiously waiting and looking forward to seeing how this journey to the glory of Carlo Ancelotti’s team will end. Haven edged out two English teams, Chelsea and Manchester City in a dramatic way, many soccer lovers believe the encounter will be explosive.

For sure, there are ‘two lions litter’d in one day’, and in one competition in one stadium, the Stade de France on May 28; and question jostling in many minds is which of the two will be the elder and more terrible? Time shall tell.

Real Madrid with a total of 13 trophies in the champions’ league competition will be stepping out on Saturday, May 28 in France as the most successful team in European Cup history.

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Liverpool with €889m valuations is the third most expensive club in Europe, compared to Real Madrid seventh with €780m, but someone might tell you that money does not play football.

In their various leagues, Real Madrid is topping the La Liga, and Liverpool is closely second to Manchester City in the Premier League.

According to one-versus-one.com Real Madrid has a total of 84 goals, while Liverpool has a total of 89 goals. Currently, Liverpool has a better 1vs1 performance index with 97 as against Real Madrid’s 88.

Liverpool has certainly grown with time under Klopp, especially in champions’ league competitions. But how this will translate into victory against Real Madrid is the issue.

According to premierleague.com, Liverpool has 21 clean sheets and conceded 24 goals with 0.67goals conceded per match. While in La-Liga, Real Madrid has 20 clean sheets, and conceded 30 goals with 0.8 goals conceded per match.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index (SPI) ratings, Jurgen Klopp’s men are the strongest side in Europe and will take some stopping in their quest to earn multiple titles this season.

There is little more to say of the attacking threat that Liverpool poses. Klopp’s ability to rotate his front line is a luxury that he has not been accustomed to very often as Liverpool manager. Still, fans would not be disappointed to see any one of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah start either of the two legs.

There is no doubt that Benzema is the absolute focal point of Real’s attack, with 4.2 shots per 90 comfortably the highest of any player remaining in the competition.

That is not forgetting the Frenchman’s attacking support act in Vinicius Junior. The Real Madrid winger has seven assists in the Champions League this season, the most of any player left in the competition.

The two best players for Real Madrid are Karim Benzema with 26 goals and Vinicius Junior with 14 goals. Their expected goal value per 90 minutes is 24.89 and 11.47.

The two best players of Liverpool are Mohamed Salah with 22 goals and Sadio Mané with 15 goals. Their expected goal value per 90 minutes is 20.9 and 16.22.

Looking at both teams’ midfield strength, it could be hard to separate the two.

Real Madrid has won four of their previous eight games against Liverpool, who have claimed three victories, while there has been one draw. The Los Blancos have scored 10 goals against the Reds from the Merseyside and conceded eight

Liverpool possible line up: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago Alcántara; Salah, Mané, Luis Díaz.

Real Madrid possible line-up: Courtois; Carvajal, Éder Militão, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modrić; Valverde, Benzema, Vinícius Júnior.

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