People love a good story. The beauty of having two stalwarts of the game go head-to-head in the UCL final is that they write their own stories throughout history and for many, football is an emotion, an escape, a celebration. People tend to find a mystic romanticism in football heritage, in the storylines that are inherently formed through the pages of history.
This is football royalty; the royalty that we expect tonight. It's 13 times winners vs 6 times winners. It's the reds vs the whites. It's Hala Madrid vs You will never walk alone. It's German precision vs Italian elegance. It's Spain vs England. It's the greatest club on the planet vs arguably the biggest club in England. It's Real Madrid vs Liverpool. It's Revenge vs Resurgence.
It's not an understatement to proclaim that the Liverpool fans and players are in pain. They're in agony. The memory of the Premier League trophy being taken away from their clutches of euphoria is still fresh.
It's prevalent that they want 'Revenge' of the 2018 final. It is evident that they feel hard done by. The desperation could be felt when the reds' talisman Mo Salah publicly stated that he wants another shot at Real Madrid. They smell blood and want payback.
Liverpool has had a counter-pressing scheme baked into their DNA ever since Jurgen Klopp took over. That's not a great match for Real Madrid. As good as the current team is, it's not the same press resistant team of the past when they consciously invited pressure only to rip through defensive lines.
Since beating Liverpool in the 2018 final, Real Madrid until now were eliminated by high pressing teams like Ajax, City and Chelsea. Now they face the ultimate test.
Liverpool allowed just 8.07 passes per defensive action. This is the fewest in the Premier League.
In the UCL they've attempted 632 pressures in the final third which is more than any other team.
Liverpool hold the highline both on and off the ball. They defend in a 4-3-3 but often it morphs into a 2- 1-4-3 with the centre backs at the halfway line and the full backs and midfielders higher up the pitch dominating the ball or winning it back in the opponent's half.
Madrid's success in this game will not just come down to the efficiency of their attackers. Their initial one or two passes out from the back from the defensive line and midfield to get the ball to the wingers will be very key.
On the other hand, Real Madrid press in a 4-4-2/4-5-1 shape. Modric is tasked with pressing highest to cut the passing lanes and this is where they can cause Liverpool issues.
It's been noticeable in Ancelotti's ploys this UCL has been how he tries to take the game by the scruff of its neck in the last quarter when Real Madrid take over and dominate their opponents through their meticulously planned substitutions spearheaded by Camavinga and Rodrygo. They enter the field and inject energy into the whole squad and in the process, submit their opponents who are typically drained from pressing into paralysis.
No matter how powerful or dominant this Liverpool side are in reality, they do go into the final as the underdogs. I mean who wouldn't? Especially against Real Madrid in a champions' league final. But here's another dose of
Football Heritage for you; before all these years of constant relentless success in European finals for Madrid, the last one that they lost was way back in 1981. Any guesses who the opponents were? It was Liverpool and it was in the French capital, PARIS!
How eerily fascinating is that? Will the football gods rewrite history? Is it going to be revenge for the scousers or is it going to be another night of Real Resurrection? Only time will tell.