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Champions League final 2018: Real Madrid vs Liverpool live build-up and team news here with Rob Bagchi What is it? The wait is nearly over as Real Madrid and Liverpool compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match that will decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? It's today, so Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 2. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Champions League final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Champions League final 2018: What time is Real Madrid vs Liverpool kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
Champions League final 2018: Real Madrid vs Liverpool live build-up and team news here with Rob Bagchi What is it? The wait is nearly over as Real Madrid and Liverpool compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match that will decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? It's today, so Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 2. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Champions League final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Champions League final 2018: Real Madrid vs Liverpool live build-up and team news here with Rob Bagchi What is it? The wait is nearly over as Real Madrid and Liverpool compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match that will decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? It's today, so Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 2. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Champions League final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Champions League final 2018: What time is Real Madrid vs Liverpool kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
Champions League final 2018: Real Madrid vs Liverpool live build-up and team news here with Rob Bagchi What is it? The wait is nearly over as Real Madrid and Liverpool compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match that will decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? It's today, so Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 2. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Champions League final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Eppan (Italy), 26/05/2018.- Germany's Jerome Boateng (L) attends a training session in Eppan, Italy, 26 May 2018. The German squad prepares for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2018 soccer championship in Russia at a training camp in Eppan, South Tyrol, until 07 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Roma, Rusia, Alemania, Italia) EFE/EPA/SASCHA STEINBACH
Eppan (Italy), 26/05/2018.- Germany's Jerome Boateng (L) attends a training session in Eppan, Italy, 26 May 2018. The German squad prepares for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2018 soccer championship in Russia at a training camp in Eppan, South Tyrol, until 07 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Roma, Rusia, Alemania, Italia) EFE/EPA/SASCHA STEINBACH
Eppan (Italy), 26/05/2018.- Germany's Jerome Boateng (L) attends a training session in Eppan, Italy, 26 May 2018. The German squad prepares for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2018 soccer championship in Russia at a training camp in Eppan, South Tyrol, until 07 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Roma, Rusia, Alemania, Italia) EFE/EPA/SASCHA STEINBACH
With just hours to go before Liverpool take on Real Madrid in this year's Champions League final, our esteemed team of football writers select their favourite moments of the this season's competition. Ronaldo's moment of magic: Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Cristiano Ronaldo's bicycle kick against Juventus was no hopeful spin in the air, but an almost mechanical gyration in which his body stayed remarkably straight. Usually players throw themselves like acrobats to perform overhead kicks - and curl their bodies - but Ronaldo was organised and linear in his movements. Adding lustre to the goal was that Real Madrid might have scored anyway, because Lucas Vasquez was in a heading position just behind Ronaldo's launch pad. But did anyone expect the megastar to leave the cross for a junior team-mate? Paul Hayward Salah announces his arrival: Porto v Liverpool, last 16 Mohamed Salah has created a European highlights reel of his own, but in the cauldron of Porto’s Estadio do Dragao we witnessed a player taking his game to another level in this season's Champions League. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 away win, but it was Salah’s poise after a James Milner shot struck the crossbar, juggling the ball in the six yard box to manoeuvre his way to what seemed – but was far from – the simplest tap-ins, that was the lingering memory of the evening. His away goal at Manchester City may have been more important, and similarly expertly executed, but this moment signified Salah and his team mates were ready to hit greater heights. Chris Bascombe Salah strikes to sink City: Manchester City v Liverpool, last 16 The Egyptian’s 39th goal of the season summed up the belief, composure and brilliance he has brought to Liverpool this season. They were on the ropes against Manchester City, despite their formidable first-leg advantage, but Salah’s goal killed off the comeback. The unerring assuredness he showed amid the maelstrom of flying bodies to dink his left-foot shot from a tight angle into the net was remarkable. Once again he was at the right place at the right time. Then there was the motionless celebration, arms out wide, before he was mobbed. Again it summed up the season he has had as Salah remained the calmest man in the stadium. Jason Burt How Mo Salah became the slowest-burning overnight sensation in English football history Oxlade-Chamberlain wonder-strike: Liverpool v Manchester City, quarter-final When the ball landed at Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s feet 30 yards from goal in the 20th minute of Liverpool’s tie with Manchester City at Anfield, nobody could have imagined what would happen next. Certainly not the Liverpool fan sitting in front of the press box who was imploring him to pass the ball to Salah, or Firmino, or anyone else. Because surely the Ox would only given possession away. But he didn’t do that. Instead he unleashed a magnificent, ferocious drive that arced away from Ederson in the City goal, sending the fans giddy with delight. And leaving the man in the stand exhibiting the kind of look of gleeful astonishment he can not have worn since he was nine years old and opened his Christmas present to discover he had, after all, been given exactly what he wanted. Jim White Manolas completes Roma's epic comeback: Roma v Barcelona, quarter-final While most fans chose to watch Manchester City's futile attempts to overturn a three-goal deficit to Liverpool, one of the great European comebacks was happening elsewhere. At the Stadio Olimpico, Roma beat Barcelona 3-0, and the scenes that met Kostas Manolas' 82nd minute tie-turner saw the kind of pure unbridled joy that is saved only for nights like this. Roma's players were as shocked as anyone that they had pulled this result off, and the entire bench rushed onto the field to celebrate, while supporters in the stands went fittingly ballistic. Alistair Tweedale Kostas Manolas' goal turned the tie against Barcelona Credit: AFP Mourinho's 'heritage' rant: Manchester United v Sevilla, last 16 Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sevilla was a stand-out moment for all the wrong reasons. United’s goalless draw away in the first leg, when Jose Mourinho’s side were flat and ultimately indebted to a stunning save from David De Gea to avert defeat, was not a good result. But few could have imagined United would deliver such a wretched display in the second leg that eventually gave way to Mourinho’s extraordinary “heritage” rant in which he attempted to blame everyone but himself for the shambles. James Ducker Ronaldo's moment of magic (again): Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Real Madrid have led a charmed life in their quest for a hat-trick of Champions League titles but have reached the final the hard way via a difficult draw and, with his overhead kick in the quarter-final first leg against Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal that will be remembered for decades. Children all over the world would have woken up the next day trying to replicate a skill that would have been the result of years of dedication. Jeremy Wilson How Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the most spectacular goals in Champions League history Ronaldo keeps his cool: Real Madrid v Juventus, quarter-final The overhead kick in the first leg was more spectacular, but everything about this tie-winning penalty was pure, unadulterated Ronaldo. He was forced to wait to take it due to the Juventus protests (and red card for Gianluigi Buffon), and he then had to endure their attempted provocation, but the ultimate killer was in his natural habitat. A kiss of the ball. A puff of the cheeks. A darting run up. Full power. Top corner. Game over. Shirt off. Job done. Sam Dean El Shaarawy begins with a bang: Roma vs Chelsea, group stage The mercurial Roma winger exasperates as often as he delights but his exquisite technique pardons his flamboyant profligacy. What was so great about his venomous, swerving half-volley from 20 yards after 38 seconds of Roma's home group tie was not only the impudence to lash it with the outside of his foot to flummox Thibaut Courtois but also his determination to beat Marcos Alonso to the lay-off. Not such a flake after all. Rob Bagchi How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final PSG's magnificent seven: PSG v Celtic, group stage As a fan of a Scottish non-Old Firm team, I watch Celtic's annual group stage wallopings with a mixture of sympathy, schadenfreude and concern about coefficients. The gulf between the Scottish champions and the actual good teams was as big as ever: beaten 5-0 at home by PSG, 3-0 in Munich and the crowning glory, 7-1 in Paris - having taken the lead in the first minute. Some Celtic folk, apparently without irony, moaned about wage bill disparities. Alan Tyers Messi's video-game brilliance: Barcelona v Chelsea, last 16 You know what he's about to do - you're watching highlights after all - but Lionel Messi is like a cheat player on a video game, attributes all at 99, running through people, hitting the top corner every time, firing low shots between the legs of Thibaut Courtois at the near post because in the split second he has to decide, that's what Messi opts for. The second goal in that 3-0 win, with Messi poking the ball past one defender at full speed, then another, then celebrating Ousmane Dembele's thunderbolt as though he'd scored it himself was nice, but his second goal, the third of the game, was ridiculous. They say when you're in a car crash everything happens in slow motion but I can only imagine what goes through the mind of a defender as Messi stops-starts-ducks-dives and nips past you. Before you even realise what's happened he's placed the shot perfectly between Courtois' legs again, it's 3-0 and Barcelona are through. JJ Bull Credit: Reuters Chiellini's heroics: Tottenham v Juventus, last 16 As Tottenham went desperately seeking an equaliser against Juventus at Wembley, Harry Kane steadied himself for a simple tap-in. But then out of nowhere, Giorgio Chiellini charged back and slid in to clear the ball away. The clearance was good, but the celebration was sensational as Gianluigi Buffon and Chiellini pressed their foreheads together and roared at one another approvingly. Chiellini then fist bumped Andrea Barzagli's hand and clapped his team-mates. We know Italians love defending, but this was something else. Charlie Eccleshare
Champions League moments 2017-18: Our writers make their picks
With just hours to go before Liverpool take on Real Madrid in this year's Champions League final, our esteemed team of football writers select their favourite moments of the this season's competition. Ronaldo's moment of magic: Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Cristiano Ronaldo's bicycle kick against Juventus was no hopeful spin in the air, but an almost mechanical gyration in which his body stayed remarkably straight. Usually players throw themselves like acrobats to perform overhead kicks - and curl their bodies - but Ronaldo was organised and linear in his movements. Adding lustre to the goal was that Real Madrid might have scored anyway, because Lucas Vasquez was in a heading position just behind Ronaldo's launch pad. But did anyone expect the megastar to leave the cross for a junior team-mate? Paul Hayward Salah announces his arrival: Porto v Liverpool, last 16 Mohamed Salah has created a European highlights reel of his own, but in the cauldron of Porto’s Estadio do Dragao we witnessed a player taking his game to another level in this season's Champions League. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 away win, but it was Salah’s poise after a James Milner shot struck the crossbar, juggling the ball in the six yard box to manoeuvre his way to what seemed – but was far from – the simplest tap-ins, that was the lingering memory of the evening. His away goal at Manchester City may have been more important, and similarly expertly executed, but this moment signified Salah and his team mates were ready to hit greater heights. Chris Bascombe Salah strikes to sink City: Manchester City v Liverpool, last 16 The Egyptian’s 39th goal of the season summed up the belief, composure and brilliance he has brought to Liverpool this season. They were on the ropes against Manchester City, despite their formidable first-leg advantage, but Salah’s goal killed off the comeback. The unerring assuredness he showed amid the maelstrom of flying bodies to dink his left-foot shot from a tight angle into the net was remarkable. Once again he was at the right place at the right time. Then there was the motionless celebration, arms out wide, before he was mobbed. Again it summed up the season he has had as Salah remained the calmest man in the stadium. Jason Burt How Mo Salah became the slowest-burning overnight sensation in English football history Oxlade-Chamberlain wonder-strike: Liverpool v Manchester City, quarter-final When the ball landed at Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s feet 30 yards from goal in the 20th minute of Liverpool’s tie with Manchester City at Anfield, nobody could have imagined what would happen next. Certainly not the Liverpool fan sitting in front of the press box who was imploring him to pass the ball to Salah, or Firmino, or anyone else. Because surely the Ox would only given possession away. But he didn’t do that. Instead he unleashed a magnificent, ferocious drive that arced away from Ederson in the City goal, sending the fans giddy with delight. And leaving the man in the stand exhibiting the kind of look of gleeful astonishment he can not have worn since he was nine years old and opened his Christmas present to discover he had, after all, been given exactly what he wanted. Jim White Manolas completes Roma's epic comeback: Roma v Barcelona, quarter-final While most fans chose to watch Manchester City's futile attempts to overturn a three-goal deficit to Liverpool, one of the great European comebacks was happening elsewhere. At the Stadio Olimpico, Roma beat Barcelona 3-0, and the scenes that met Kostas Manolas' 82nd minute tie-turner saw the kind of pure unbridled joy that is saved only for nights like this. Roma's players were as shocked as anyone that they had pulled this result off, and the entire bench rushed onto the field to celebrate, while supporters in the stands went fittingly ballistic. Alistair Tweedale Kostas Manolas' goal turned the tie against Barcelona Credit: AFP Mourinho's 'heritage' rant: Manchester United v Sevilla, last 16 Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sevilla was a stand-out moment for all the wrong reasons. United’s goalless draw away in the first leg, when Jose Mourinho’s side were flat and ultimately indebted to a stunning save from David De Gea to avert defeat, was not a good result. But few could have imagined United would deliver such a wretched display in the second leg that eventually gave way to Mourinho’s extraordinary “heritage” rant in which he attempted to blame everyone but himself for the shambles. James Ducker Ronaldo's moment of magic (again): Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Real Madrid have led a charmed life in their quest for a hat-trick of Champions League titles but have reached the final the hard way via a difficult draw and, with his overhead kick in the quarter-final first leg against Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal that will be remembered for decades. Children all over the world would have woken up the next day trying to replicate a skill that would have been the result of years of dedication. Jeremy Wilson How Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the most spectacular goals in Champions League history Ronaldo keeps his cool: Real Madrid v Juventus, quarter-final The overhead kick in the first leg was more spectacular, but everything about this tie-winning penalty was pure, unadulterated Ronaldo. He was forced to wait to take it due to the Juventus protests (and red card for Gianluigi Buffon), and he then had to endure their attempted provocation, but the ultimate killer was in his natural habitat. A kiss of the ball. A puff of the cheeks. A darting run up. Full power. Top corner. Game over. Shirt off. Job done. Sam Dean El Shaarawy begins with a bang: Roma vs Chelsea, group stage The mercurial Roma winger exasperates as often as he delights but his exquisite technique pardons his flamboyant profligacy. What was so great about his venomous, swerving half-volley from 20 yards after 38 seconds of Roma's home group tie was not only the impudence to lash it with the outside of his foot to flummox Thibaut Courtois but also his determination to beat Marcos Alonso to the lay-off. Not such a flake after all. Rob Bagchi How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final PSG's magnificent seven: PSG v Celtic, group stage As a fan of a Scottish non-Old Firm team, I watch Celtic's annual group stage wallopings with a mixture of sympathy, schadenfreude and concern about coefficients. The gulf between the Scottish champions and the actual good teams was as big as ever: beaten 5-0 at home by PSG, 3-0 in Munich and the crowning glory, 7-1 in Paris - having taken the lead in the first minute. Some Celtic folk, apparently without irony, moaned about wage bill disparities. Alan Tyers Messi's video-game brilliance: Barcelona v Chelsea, last 16 You know what he's about to do - you're watching highlights after all - but Lionel Messi is like a cheat player on a video game, attributes all at 99, running through people, hitting the top corner every time, firing low shots between the legs of Thibaut Courtois at the near post because in the split second he has to decide, that's what Messi opts for. The second goal in that 3-0 win, with Messi poking the ball past one defender at full speed, then another, then celebrating Ousmane Dembele's thunderbolt as though he'd scored it himself was nice, but his second goal, the third of the game, was ridiculous. They say when you're in a car crash everything happens in slow motion but I can only imagine what goes through the mind of a defender as Messi stops-starts-ducks-dives and nips past you. Before you even realise what's happened he's placed the shot perfectly between Courtois' legs again, it's 3-0 and Barcelona are through. JJ Bull Credit: Reuters Chiellini's heroics: Tottenham v Juventus, last 16 As Tottenham went desperately seeking an equaliser against Juventus at Wembley, Harry Kane steadied himself for a simple tap-in. But then out of nowhere, Giorgio Chiellini charged back and slid in to clear the ball away. The clearance was good, but the celebration was sensational as Gianluigi Buffon and Chiellini pressed their foreheads together and roared at one another approvingly. Chiellini then fist bumped Andrea Barzagli's hand and clapped his team-mates. We know Italians love defending, but this was something else. Charlie Eccleshare
With just hours to go before Liverpool take on Real Madrid in this year's Champions League final, our esteemed team of football writers select their favourite moments of the this season's competition. Ronaldo's moment of magic: Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Cristiano Ronaldo's bicycle kick against Juventus was no hopeful spin in the air, but an almost mechanical gyration in which his body stayed remarkably straight. Usually players throw themselves like acrobats to perform overhead kicks - and curl their bodies - but Ronaldo was organised and linear in his movements. Adding lustre to the goal was that Real Madrid might have scored anyway, because Lucas Vasquez was in a heading position just behind Ronaldo's launch pad. But did anyone expect the megastar to leave the cross for a junior team-mate? Paul Hayward Salah announces his arrival: Porto v Liverpool, last 16 Mohamed Salah has created a European highlights reel of his own, but in the cauldron of Porto’s Estadio do Dragao we witnessed a player taking his game to another level in this season's Champions League. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 away win, but it was Salah’s poise after a James Milner shot struck the crossbar, juggling the ball in the six yard box to manoeuvre his way to what seemed – but was far from – the simplest tap-ins, that was the lingering memory of the evening. His away goal at Manchester City may have been more important, and similarly expertly executed, but this moment signified Salah and his team mates were ready to hit greater heights. Chris Bascombe Salah strikes to sink City: Manchester City v Liverpool, last 16 The Egyptian’s 39th goal of the season summed up the belief, composure and brilliance he has brought to Liverpool this season. They were on the ropes against Manchester City, despite their formidable first-leg advantage, but Salah’s goal killed off the comeback. The unerring assuredness he showed amid the maelstrom of flying bodies to dink his left-foot shot from a tight angle into the net was remarkable. Once again he was at the right place at the right time. Then there was the motionless celebration, arms out wide, before he was mobbed. Again it summed up the season he has had as Salah remained the calmest man in the stadium. Jason Burt How Mo Salah became the slowest-burning overnight sensation in English football history Oxlade-Chamberlain wonder-strike: Liverpool v Manchester City, quarter-final When the ball landed at Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s feet 30 yards from goal in the 20th minute of Liverpool’s tie with Manchester City at Anfield, nobody could have imagined what would happen next. Certainly not the Liverpool fan sitting in front of the press box who was imploring him to pass the ball to Salah, or Firmino, or anyone else. Because surely the Ox would only given possession away. But he didn’t do that. Instead he unleashed a magnificent, ferocious drive that arced away from Ederson in the City goal, sending the fans giddy with delight. And leaving the man in the stand exhibiting the kind of look of gleeful astonishment he can not have worn since he was nine years old and opened his Christmas present to discover he had, after all, been given exactly what he wanted. Jim White Manolas completes Roma's epic comeback: Roma v Barcelona, quarter-final While most fans chose to watch Manchester City's futile attempts to overturn a three-goal deficit to Liverpool, one of the great European comebacks was happening elsewhere. At the Stadio Olimpico, Roma beat Barcelona 3-0, and the scenes that met Kostas Manolas' 82nd minute tie-turner saw the kind of pure unbridled joy that is saved only for nights like this. Roma's players were as shocked as anyone that they had pulled this result off, and the entire bench rushed onto the field to celebrate, while supporters in the stands went fittingly ballistic. Alistair Tweedale Kostas Manolas' goal turned the tie against Barcelona Credit: AFP Mourinho's 'heritage' rant: Manchester United v Sevilla, last 16 Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sevilla was a stand-out moment for all the wrong reasons. United’s goalless draw away in the first leg, when Jose Mourinho’s side were flat and ultimately indebted to a stunning save from David De Gea to avert defeat, was not a good result. But few could have imagined United would deliver such a wretched display in the second leg that eventually gave way to Mourinho’s extraordinary “heritage” rant in which he attempted to blame everyone but himself for the shambles. James Ducker Ronaldo's moment of magic (again): Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Real Madrid have led a charmed life in their quest for a hat-trick of Champions League titles but have reached the final the hard way via a difficult draw and, with his overhead kick in the quarter-final first leg against Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal that will be remembered for decades. Children all over the world would have woken up the next day trying to replicate a skill that would have been the result of years of dedication. Jeremy Wilson How Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the most spectacular goals in Champions League history Ronaldo keeps his cool: Real Madrid v Juventus, quarter-final The overhead kick in the first leg was more spectacular, but everything about this tie-winning penalty was pure, unadulterated Ronaldo. He was forced to wait to take it due to the Juventus protests (and red card for Gianluigi Buffon), and he then had to endure their attempted provocation, but the ultimate killer was in his natural habitat. A kiss of the ball. A puff of the cheeks. A darting run up. Full power. Top corner. Game over. Shirt off. Job done. Sam Dean El Shaarawy begins with a bang: Roma vs Chelsea, group stage The mercurial Roma winger exasperates as often as he delights but his exquisite technique pardons his flamboyant profligacy. What was so great about his venomous, swerving half-volley from 20 yards after 38 seconds of Roma's home group tie was not only the impudence to lash it with the outside of his foot to flummox Thibaut Courtois but also his determination to beat Marcos Alonso to the lay-off. Not such a flake after all. Rob Bagchi How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final PSG's magnificent seven: PSG v Celtic, group stage As a fan of a Scottish non-Old Firm team, I watch Celtic's annual group stage wallopings with a mixture of sympathy, schadenfreude and concern about coefficients. The gulf between the Scottish champions and the actual good teams was as big as ever: beaten 5-0 at home by PSG, 3-0 in Munich and the crowning glory, 7-1 in Paris - having taken the lead in the first minute. Some Celtic folk, apparently without irony, moaned about wage bill disparities. Alan Tyers Messi's video-game brilliance: Barcelona v Chelsea, last 16 You know what he's about to do - you're watching highlights after all - but Lionel Messi is like a cheat player on a video game, attributes all at 99, running through people, hitting the top corner every time, firing low shots between the legs of Thibaut Courtois at the near post because in the split second he has to decide, that's what Messi opts for. The second goal in that 3-0 win, with Messi poking the ball past one defender at full speed, then another, then celebrating Ousmane Dembele's thunderbolt as though he'd scored it himself was nice, but his second goal, the third of the game, was ridiculous. They say when you're in a car crash everything happens in slow motion but I can only imagine what goes through the mind of a defender as Messi stops-starts-ducks-dives and nips past you. Before you even realise what's happened he's placed the shot perfectly between Courtois' legs again, it's 3-0 and Barcelona are through. JJ Bull Credit: Reuters Chiellini's heroics: Tottenham v Juventus, last 16 As Tottenham went desperately seeking an equaliser against Juventus at Wembley, Harry Kane steadied himself for a simple tap-in. But then out of nowhere, Giorgio Chiellini charged back and slid in to clear the ball away. The clearance was good, but the celebration was sensational as Gianluigi Buffon and Chiellini pressed their foreheads together and roared at one another approvingly. Chiellini then fist bumped Andrea Barzagli's hand and clapped his team-mates. We know Italians love defending, but this was something else. Charlie Eccleshare
Champions League moments 2017-18: Our writers make their picks
With just hours to go before Liverpool take on Real Madrid in this year's Champions League final, our esteemed team of football writers select their favourite moments of the this season's competition. Ronaldo's moment of magic: Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Cristiano Ronaldo's bicycle kick against Juventus was no hopeful spin in the air, but an almost mechanical gyration in which his body stayed remarkably straight. Usually players throw themselves like acrobats to perform overhead kicks - and curl their bodies - but Ronaldo was organised and linear in his movements. Adding lustre to the goal was that Real Madrid might have scored anyway, because Lucas Vasquez was in a heading position just behind Ronaldo's launch pad. But did anyone expect the megastar to leave the cross for a junior team-mate? Paul Hayward Salah announces his arrival: Porto v Liverpool, last 16 Mohamed Salah has created a European highlights reel of his own, but in the cauldron of Porto’s Estadio do Dragao we witnessed a player taking his game to another level in this season's Champions League. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 away win, but it was Salah’s poise after a James Milner shot struck the crossbar, juggling the ball in the six yard box to manoeuvre his way to what seemed – but was far from – the simplest tap-ins, that was the lingering memory of the evening. His away goal at Manchester City may have been more important, and similarly expertly executed, but this moment signified Salah and his team mates were ready to hit greater heights. Chris Bascombe Salah strikes to sink City: Manchester City v Liverpool, last 16 The Egyptian’s 39th goal of the season summed up the belief, composure and brilliance he has brought to Liverpool this season. They were on the ropes against Manchester City, despite their formidable first-leg advantage, but Salah’s goal killed off the comeback. The unerring assuredness he showed amid the maelstrom of flying bodies to dink his left-foot shot from a tight angle into the net was remarkable. Once again he was at the right place at the right time. Then there was the motionless celebration, arms out wide, before he was mobbed. Again it summed up the season he has had as Salah remained the calmest man in the stadium. Jason Burt How Mo Salah became the slowest-burning overnight sensation in English football history Oxlade-Chamberlain wonder-strike: Liverpool v Manchester City, quarter-final When the ball landed at Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s feet 30 yards from goal in the 20th minute of Liverpool’s tie with Manchester City at Anfield, nobody could have imagined what would happen next. Certainly not the Liverpool fan sitting in front of the press box who was imploring him to pass the ball to Salah, or Firmino, or anyone else. Because surely the Ox would only given possession away. But he didn’t do that. Instead he unleashed a magnificent, ferocious drive that arced away from Ederson in the City goal, sending the fans giddy with delight. And leaving the man in the stand exhibiting the kind of look of gleeful astonishment he can not have worn since he was nine years old and opened his Christmas present to discover he had, after all, been given exactly what he wanted. Jim White Manolas completes Roma's epic comeback: Roma v Barcelona, quarter-final While most fans chose to watch Manchester City's futile attempts to overturn a three-goal deficit to Liverpool, one of the great European comebacks was happening elsewhere. At the Stadio Olimpico, Roma beat Barcelona 3-0, and the scenes that met Kostas Manolas' 82nd minute tie-turner saw the kind of pure unbridled joy that is saved only for nights like this. Roma's players were as shocked as anyone that they had pulled this result off, and the entire bench rushed onto the field to celebrate, while supporters in the stands went fittingly ballistic. Alistair Tweedale Kostas Manolas' goal turned the tie against Barcelona Credit: AFP Mourinho's 'heritage' rant: Manchester United v Sevilla, last 16 Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sevilla was a stand-out moment for all the wrong reasons. United’s goalless draw away in the first leg, when Jose Mourinho’s side were flat and ultimately indebted to a stunning save from David De Gea to avert defeat, was not a good result. But few could have imagined United would deliver such a wretched display in the second leg that eventually gave way to Mourinho’s extraordinary “heritage” rant in which he attempted to blame everyone but himself for the shambles. James Ducker Ronaldo's moment of magic (again): Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Real Madrid have led a charmed life in their quest for a hat-trick of Champions League titles but have reached the final the hard way via a difficult draw and, with his overhead kick in the quarter-final first leg against Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal that will be remembered for decades. Children all over the world would have woken up the next day trying to replicate a skill that would have been the result of years of dedication. Jeremy Wilson How Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the most spectacular goals in Champions League history Ronaldo keeps his cool: Real Madrid v Juventus, quarter-final The overhead kick in the first leg was more spectacular, but everything about this tie-winning penalty was pure, unadulterated Ronaldo. He was forced to wait to take it due to the Juventus protests (and red card for Gianluigi Buffon), and he then had to endure their attempted provocation, but the ultimate killer was in his natural habitat. A kiss of the ball. A puff of the cheeks. A darting run up. Full power. Top corner. Game over. Shirt off. Job done. Sam Dean El Shaarawy begins with a bang: Roma vs Chelsea, group stage The mercurial Roma winger exasperates as often as he delights but his exquisite technique pardons his flamboyant profligacy. What was so great about his venomous, swerving half-volley from 20 yards after 38 seconds of Roma's home group tie was not only the impudence to lash it with the outside of his foot to flummox Thibaut Courtois but also his determination to beat Marcos Alonso to the lay-off. Not such a flake after all. Rob Bagchi How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final PSG's magnificent seven: PSG v Celtic, group stage As a fan of a Scottish non-Old Firm team, I watch Celtic's annual group stage wallopings with a mixture of sympathy, schadenfreude and concern about coefficients. The gulf between the Scottish champions and the actual good teams was as big as ever: beaten 5-0 at home by PSG, 3-0 in Munich and the crowning glory, 7-1 in Paris - having taken the lead in the first minute. Some Celtic folk, apparently without irony, moaned about wage bill disparities. Alan Tyers Messi's video-game brilliance: Barcelona v Chelsea, last 16 You know what he's about to do - you're watching highlights after all - but Lionel Messi is like a cheat player on a video game, attributes all at 99, running through people, hitting the top corner every time, firing low shots between the legs of Thibaut Courtois at the near post because in the split second he has to decide, that's what Messi opts for. The second goal in that 3-0 win, with Messi poking the ball past one defender at full speed, then another, then celebrating Ousmane Dembele's thunderbolt as though he'd scored it himself was nice, but his second goal, the third of the game, was ridiculous. They say when you're in a car crash everything happens in slow motion but I can only imagine what goes through the mind of a defender as Messi stops-starts-ducks-dives and nips past you. Before you even realise what's happened he's placed the shot perfectly between Courtois' legs again, it's 3-0 and Barcelona are through. JJ Bull Credit: Reuters Chiellini's heroics: Tottenham v Juventus, last 16 As Tottenham went desperately seeking an equaliser against Juventus at Wembley, Harry Kane steadied himself for a simple tap-in. But then out of nowhere, Giorgio Chiellini charged back and slid in to clear the ball away. The clearance was good, but the celebration was sensational as Gianluigi Buffon and Chiellini pressed their foreheads together and roared at one another approvingly. Chiellini then fist bumped Andrea Barzagli's hand and clapped his team-mates. We know Italians love defending, but this was something else. Charlie Eccleshare
With just hours to go before Liverpool take on Real Madrid in this year's Champions League final, our esteemed team of football writers select their favourite moments of the this season's competition. Ronaldo's moment of magic: Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Cristiano Ronaldo's bicycle kick against Juventus was no hopeful spin in the air, but an almost mechanical gyration in which his body stayed remarkably straight. Usually players throw themselves like acrobats to perform overhead kicks - and curl their bodies - but Ronaldo was organised and linear in his movements. Adding lustre to the goal was that Real Madrid might have scored anyway, because Lucas Vasquez was in a heading position just behind Ronaldo's launch pad. But did anyone expect the megastar to leave the cross for a junior team-mate? Paul Hayward Salah announces his arrival: Porto v Liverpool, last 16 Mohamed Salah has created a European highlights reel of his own, but in the cauldron of Porto’s Estadio do Dragao we witnessed a player taking his game to another level in this season's Champions League. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 away win, but it was Salah’s poise after a James Milner shot struck the crossbar, juggling the ball in the six yard box to manoeuvre his way to what seemed – but was far from – the simplest tap-ins, that was the lingering memory of the evening. His away goal at Manchester City may have been more important, and similarly expertly executed, but this moment signified Salah and his team mates were ready to hit greater heights. Chris Bascombe Salah strikes to sink City: Manchester City v Liverpool, last 16 The Egyptian’s 39th goal of the season summed up the belief, composure and brilliance he has brought to Liverpool this season. They were on the ropes against Manchester City, despite their formidable first-leg advantage, but Salah’s goal killed off the comeback. The unerring assuredness he showed amid the maelstrom of flying bodies to dink his left-foot shot from a tight angle into the net was remarkable. Once again he was at the right place at the right time. Then there was the motionless celebration, arms out wide, before he was mobbed. Again it summed up the season he has had as Salah remained the calmest man in the stadium. Jason Burt How Mo Salah became the slowest-burning overnight sensation in English football history Oxlade-Chamberlain wonder-strike: Liverpool v Manchester City, quarter-final When the ball landed at Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s feet 30 yards from goal in the 20th minute of Liverpool’s tie with Manchester City at Anfield, nobody could have imagined what would happen next. Certainly not the Liverpool fan sitting in front of the press box who was imploring him to pass the ball to Salah, or Firmino, or anyone else. Because surely the Ox would only given possession away. But he didn’t do that. Instead he unleashed a magnificent, ferocious drive that arced away from Ederson in the City goal, sending the fans giddy with delight. And leaving the man in the stand exhibiting the kind of look of gleeful astonishment he can not have worn since he was nine years old and opened his Christmas present to discover he had, after all, been given exactly what he wanted. Jim White Manolas completes Roma's epic comeback: Roma v Barcelona, quarter-final While most fans chose to watch Manchester City's futile attempts to overturn a three-goal deficit to Liverpool, one of the great European comebacks was happening elsewhere. At the Stadio Olimpico, Roma beat Barcelona 3-0, and the scenes that met Kostas Manolas' 82nd minute tie-turner saw the kind of pure unbridled joy that is saved only for nights like this. Roma's players were as shocked as anyone that they had pulled this result off, and the entire bench rushed onto the field to celebrate, while supporters in the stands went fittingly ballistic. Alistair Tweedale Kostas Manolas' goal turned the tie against Barcelona Credit: AFP Mourinho's 'heritage' rant: Manchester United v Sevilla, last 16 Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sevilla was a stand-out moment for all the wrong reasons. United’s goalless draw away in the first leg, when Jose Mourinho’s side were flat and ultimately indebted to a stunning save from David De Gea to avert defeat, was not a good result. But few could have imagined United would deliver such a wretched display in the second leg that eventually gave way to Mourinho’s extraordinary “heritage” rant in which he attempted to blame everyone but himself for the shambles. James Ducker Ronaldo's moment of magic (again): Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Real Madrid have led a charmed life in their quest for a hat-trick of Champions League titles but have reached the final the hard way via a difficult draw and, with his overhead kick in the quarter-final first leg against Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal that will be remembered for decades. Children all over the world would have woken up the next day trying to replicate a skill that would have been the result of years of dedication. Jeremy Wilson How Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the most spectacular goals in Champions League history Ronaldo keeps his cool: Real Madrid v Juventus, quarter-final The overhead kick in the first leg was more spectacular, but everything about this tie-winning penalty was pure, unadulterated Ronaldo. He was forced to wait to take it due to the Juventus protests (and red card for Gianluigi Buffon), and he then had to endure their attempted provocation, but the ultimate killer was in his natural habitat. A kiss of the ball. A puff of the cheeks. A darting run up. Full power. Top corner. Game over. Shirt off. Job done. Sam Dean El Shaarawy begins with a bang: Roma vs Chelsea, group stage The mercurial Roma winger exasperates as often as he delights but his exquisite technique pardons his flamboyant profligacy. What was so great about his venomous, swerving half-volley from 20 yards after 38 seconds of Roma's home group tie was not only the impudence to lash it with the outside of his foot to flummox Thibaut Courtois but also his determination to beat Marcos Alonso to the lay-off. Not such a flake after all. Rob Bagchi How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final PSG's magnificent seven: PSG v Celtic, group stage As a fan of a Scottish non-Old Firm team, I watch Celtic's annual group stage wallopings with a mixture of sympathy, schadenfreude and concern about coefficients. The gulf between the Scottish champions and the actual good teams was as big as ever: beaten 5-0 at home by PSG, 3-0 in Munich and the crowning glory, 7-1 in Paris - having taken the lead in the first minute. Some Celtic folk, apparently without irony, moaned about wage bill disparities. Alan Tyers Messi's video-game brilliance: Barcelona v Chelsea, last 16 You know what he's about to do - you're watching highlights after all - but Lionel Messi is like a cheat player on a video game, attributes all at 99, running through people, hitting the top corner every time, firing low shots between the legs of Thibaut Courtois at the near post because in the split second he has to decide, that's what Messi opts for. The second goal in that 3-0 win, with Messi poking the ball past one defender at full speed, then another, then celebrating Ousmane Dembele's thunderbolt as though he'd scored it himself was nice, but his second goal, the third of the game, was ridiculous. They say when you're in a car crash everything happens in slow motion but I can only imagine what goes through the mind of a defender as Messi stops-starts-ducks-dives and nips past you. Before you even realise what's happened he's placed the shot perfectly between Courtois' legs again, it's 3-0 and Barcelona are through. JJ Bull Credit: Reuters Chiellini's heroics: Tottenham v Juventus, last 16 As Tottenham went desperately seeking an equaliser against Juventus at Wembley, Harry Kane steadied himself for a simple tap-in. But then out of nowhere, Giorgio Chiellini charged back and slid in to clear the ball away. The clearance was good, but the celebration was sensational as Gianluigi Buffon and Chiellini pressed their foreheads together and roared at one another approvingly. Chiellini then fist bumped Andrea Barzagli's hand and clapped his team-mates. We know Italians love defending, but this was something else. Charlie Eccleshare
Champions League moments 2017-18: Our writers make their picks
With just hours to go before Liverpool take on Real Madrid in this year's Champions League final, our esteemed team of football writers select their favourite moments of the this season's competition. Ronaldo's moment of magic: Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Cristiano Ronaldo's bicycle kick against Juventus was no hopeful spin in the air, but an almost mechanical gyration in which his body stayed remarkably straight. Usually players throw themselves like acrobats to perform overhead kicks - and curl their bodies - but Ronaldo was organised and linear in his movements. Adding lustre to the goal was that Real Madrid might have scored anyway, because Lucas Vasquez was in a heading position just behind Ronaldo's launch pad. But did anyone expect the megastar to leave the cross for a junior team-mate? Paul Hayward Salah announces his arrival: Porto v Liverpool, last 16 Mohamed Salah has created a European highlights reel of his own, but in the cauldron of Porto’s Estadio do Dragao we witnessed a player taking his game to another level in this season's Champions League. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 away win, but it was Salah’s poise after a James Milner shot struck the crossbar, juggling the ball in the six yard box to manoeuvre his way to what seemed – but was far from – the simplest tap-ins, that was the lingering memory of the evening. His away goal at Manchester City may have been more important, and similarly expertly executed, but this moment signified Salah and his team mates were ready to hit greater heights. Chris Bascombe Salah strikes to sink City: Manchester City v Liverpool, last 16 The Egyptian’s 39th goal of the season summed up the belief, composure and brilliance he has brought to Liverpool this season. They were on the ropes against Manchester City, despite their formidable first-leg advantage, but Salah’s goal killed off the comeback. The unerring assuredness he showed amid the maelstrom of flying bodies to dink his left-foot shot from a tight angle into the net was remarkable. Once again he was at the right place at the right time. Then there was the motionless celebration, arms out wide, before he was mobbed. Again it summed up the season he has had as Salah remained the calmest man in the stadium. Jason Burt How Mo Salah became the slowest-burning overnight sensation in English football history Oxlade-Chamberlain wonder-strike: Liverpool v Manchester City, quarter-final When the ball landed at Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s feet 30 yards from goal in the 20th minute of Liverpool’s tie with Manchester City at Anfield, nobody could have imagined what would happen next. Certainly not the Liverpool fan sitting in front of the press box who was imploring him to pass the ball to Salah, or Firmino, or anyone else. Because surely the Ox would only given possession away. But he didn’t do that. Instead he unleashed a magnificent, ferocious drive that arced away from Ederson in the City goal, sending the fans giddy with delight. And leaving the man in the stand exhibiting the kind of look of gleeful astonishment he can not have worn since he was nine years old and opened his Christmas present to discover he had, after all, been given exactly what he wanted. Jim White Manolas completes Roma's epic comeback: Roma v Barcelona, quarter-final While most fans chose to watch Manchester City's futile attempts to overturn a three-goal deficit to Liverpool, one of the great European comebacks was happening elsewhere. At the Stadio Olimpico, Roma beat Barcelona 3-0, and the scenes that met Kostas Manolas' 82nd minute tie-turner saw the kind of pure unbridled joy that is saved only for nights like this. Roma's players were as shocked as anyone that they had pulled this result off, and the entire bench rushed onto the field to celebrate, while supporters in the stands went fittingly ballistic. Alistair Tweedale Kostas Manolas' goal turned the tie against Barcelona Credit: AFP Mourinho's 'heritage' rant: Manchester United v Sevilla, last 16 Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sevilla was a stand-out moment for all the wrong reasons. United’s goalless draw away in the first leg, when Jose Mourinho’s side were flat and ultimately indebted to a stunning save from David De Gea to avert defeat, was not a good result. But few could have imagined United would deliver such a wretched display in the second leg that eventually gave way to Mourinho’s extraordinary “heritage” rant in which he attempted to blame everyone but himself for the shambles. James Ducker Ronaldo's moment of magic (again): Juventus v Real Madrid, quarter-final Real Madrid have led a charmed life in their quest for a hat-trick of Champions League titles but have reached the final the hard way via a difficult draw and, with his overhead kick in the quarter-final first leg against Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal that will be remembered for decades. Children all over the world would have woken up the next day trying to replicate a skill that would have been the result of years of dedication. Jeremy Wilson How Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the most spectacular goals in Champions League history Ronaldo keeps his cool: Real Madrid v Juventus, quarter-final The overhead kick in the first leg was more spectacular, but everything about this tie-winning penalty was pure, unadulterated Ronaldo. He was forced to wait to take it due to the Juventus protests (and red card for Gianluigi Buffon), and he then had to endure their attempted provocation, but the ultimate killer was in his natural habitat. A kiss of the ball. A puff of the cheeks. A darting run up. Full power. Top corner. Game over. Shirt off. Job done. Sam Dean El Shaarawy begins with a bang: Roma vs Chelsea, group stage The mercurial Roma winger exasperates as often as he delights but his exquisite technique pardons his flamboyant profligacy. What was so great about his venomous, swerving half-volley from 20 yards after 38 seconds of Roma's home group tie was not only the impudence to lash it with the outside of his foot to flummox Thibaut Courtois but also his determination to beat Marcos Alonso to the lay-off. Not such a flake after all. Rob Bagchi How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final PSG's magnificent seven: PSG v Celtic, group stage As a fan of a Scottish non-Old Firm team, I watch Celtic's annual group stage wallopings with a mixture of sympathy, schadenfreude and concern about coefficients. The gulf between the Scottish champions and the actual good teams was as big as ever: beaten 5-0 at home by PSG, 3-0 in Munich and the crowning glory, 7-1 in Paris - having taken the lead in the first minute. Some Celtic folk, apparently without irony, moaned about wage bill disparities. Alan Tyers Messi's video-game brilliance: Barcelona v Chelsea, last 16 You know what he's about to do - you're watching highlights after all - but Lionel Messi is like a cheat player on a video game, attributes all at 99, running through people, hitting the top corner every time, firing low shots between the legs of Thibaut Courtois at the near post because in the split second he has to decide, that's what Messi opts for. The second goal in that 3-0 win, with Messi poking the ball past one defender at full speed, then another, then celebrating Ousmane Dembele's thunderbolt as though he'd scored it himself was nice, but his second goal, the third of the game, was ridiculous. They say when you're in a car crash everything happens in slow motion but I can only imagine what goes through the mind of a defender as Messi stops-starts-ducks-dives and nips past you. Before you even realise what's happened he's placed the shot perfectly between Courtois' legs again, it's 3-0 and Barcelona are through. JJ Bull Credit: Reuters Chiellini's heroics: Tottenham v Juventus, last 16 As Tottenham went desperately seeking an equaliser against Juventus at Wembley, Harry Kane steadied himself for a simple tap-in. But then out of nowhere, Giorgio Chiellini charged back and slid in to clear the ball away. The clearance was good, but the celebration was sensational as Gianluigi Buffon and Chiellini pressed their foreheads together and roared at one another approvingly. Chiellini then fist bumped Andrea Barzagli's hand and clapped his team-mates. We know Italians love defending, but this was something else. Charlie Eccleshare
Mohamed Salah toubled Marcelo when they met in Real Madrid's win over Roma in 2016
Mohamed Salah toubled Marcelo when they met in Real Madrid's win over Roma in 2016
Mohamed Salah toubled Marcelo when they met in Real Madrid's win over Roma in 2016
Mohamed Salah toubled Marcelo when they met in Real Madrid's win over Roma in 2016 (AFP Photo/JAVIER SORIANO)
Mohamed Salah toubled Marcelo when they met in Real Madrid's win over Roma in 2016
Mohamed Salah toubled Marcelo when they met in Real Madrid's win over Roma in 2016 (AFP Photo/JAVIER SORIANO)
Jurgen Klopp has declared that Liverpool are back among Europe’s elite because of the “big-balls football” played in their exceptional run to the Champions League final. The comment was a true Klopp-ism. On the eve of facing Real Madrid here, the Liverpool manager was at his inspirational, charismatic best. He hailed the “outstanding power” that came from the bond between his team and the fans and spoke passionately about how Liverpool were “different” from other clubs – which is why he made the “100 per cent” emotional response to join them in October 2015. Winning a sixth European Cup – and denying Real a 13th, and a third in a row – was, however, not ­required to bring Liverpool back to being a superpower again. “I don’t think we need that moment to ­restore it,” Klopp argued. “I think it is obvious we are back. That is absolutely [obvious]. “To qualify for a final, it shows that you are back. To win it? You need a little bit of luck and stuff like that is involved. But we are back. First and foremost. Even if you win, you cannot stop. If you lose, you cannot stop. I really like the way we are as a club, as a team.” This season’s feats, therefore, are the start of something now that Liverpool have momentum. “Yes, 100 per cent,” Klopp said. “We feel in a good place. Not in a place to rest or whatever. No. Not at all. This is ­really a good place to use.” Champions League final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool That place brings expectancy of doing well next season and history shows that reaching Champions League finals is often followed by more appearances. Of the previous 10 finals, four clubs have been involved three times each, and three have been there twice. “What I said to the boys before the semi-final was that I don’t think we are the last time here,” Klopp said. “I don’t think that. I didn’t want to take the pressure off them or whatever, I only think we are a club and a team next year that could be here again, far in the competition. That’s what I said.” Not that Klopp, attempting to win a European final at his third ­attempt, is unaware of the importance of seizing this incredible opportunity. “We are Liverpool. And that is what we will really live in that moment,” he said. “We are Liverpool. We are different. We have been different the whole campaign and we want to be different again in that final. We have a chance. That is all.” That sense of being different was expanded upon. “I don’t know exactly why I think it constantly but we are Liverpool. It is like it is,” Klopp said. “That’s why we are in the final, not because we are the best team in the competition and everybody thought before the season, ‘Yeah, Liverpool and we will see’. It was exactly the other way around. The boys played this kind of football that was different.” He then clicked his fingers three times to emphasise that Liverpool had done it “again and again” ­during their exhilarating campaign. “We had so many game-changing moments. Unbelievable. We showed them [to the players] from time to time after the game because nobody really thinks about them,” Klopp added, before detailing three moments: against Porto, Sevilla and, even, against Maribor in the group stages when the ball was won back through endeavour and belief. “These moments, and we had them 500 times, and we need them again,” he said. “You need these game-changing moments. Not waiting for something, not hoping for something, no, change the game in the moments you can change it.” It was illuminating that all three examples described by Klopp involved Mohamed Salah; and not one involved him actually scoring a goal. Having defeated Porto, Manchester City and Roma in the knockout stages, and being the competition’s highest scorers with a record 46 goals, Liverpool undoubtedly deserve to be here. Liverpool have enjoyed a sensational Champions League campaign Credit: Getty Images “The home games were like, ‘Wow, what’s that?’” Klopp said. “It was kind of a new level in the Champions League in these games. It was not that we are so much better, but it was so different, so brave, it was big-balls football. I really loved it. The power we had against City, for example, was like, ‘What’s that?’ They were better in all the other parts of the game, they played until they were in our six-yard box but, when we were in possession, it was massive.” And now Liverpool have to “do it all over again” against the holders, with all their experience, know-how and big names. “We have to defend with all we have,” Klopp said. “Let them do a cross and you need the fire workers [fighters] in the box. Avoid all crosses, avoid all shots, avoid all passes … I know the pressure will come, but in this moment I only feel the opportunity.” So, Liverpool must take that ­opportunity. The crowd, even in a neutral venue, with tickets criminally limited and logistics cruelly tough, will play their part, especially those in Liverpool red. “Outstanding power, that creates an outstanding power,” Klopp ­enthused. “It’s difficult to describe but fantastic to be involved in. That’s really big. Atmosphere in a club like Liverpool makes a difference. This club is used to it, the crowd is used to having influence, they want it. When I came in, it was a little more that they had influence but they didn’t want to use it, it was now ‘you start to deliver before we start to perform’. “That was a little bit the situation. Now it is like both batteries are recharged, both can perform and that makes it really special. It’s big.” Unsurprisingly, the emotional pull for Klopp was significant. “I don’t know why I was so attracted, but when I got the call, I knew my break would be finished,” he said of taking the Liverpool job three years ago, five months after leaving Borussia Dortmund. “It’s not that I have read books about different clubs so I can give an explanation and say ‘that is the club that attracted me most’ or ‘they are in the most difficult situation, maybe I can help them the most’. It wasn’t this. It was only a feeling. And that feeling, obviously, was right. This club gives you the power, the players, the teams that you can win big things from time to time.” It does not come any bigger than this. That time is now.
Jurgen Klopp: 'Big-balls football' has made Liverpool a superclub again
Jurgen Klopp has declared that Liverpool are back among Europe’s elite because of the “big-balls football” played in their exceptional run to the Champions League final. The comment was a true Klopp-ism. On the eve of facing Real Madrid here, the Liverpool manager was at his inspirational, charismatic best. He hailed the “outstanding power” that came from the bond between his team and the fans and spoke passionately about how Liverpool were “different” from other clubs – which is why he made the “100 per cent” emotional response to join them in October 2015. Winning a sixth European Cup – and denying Real a 13th, and a third in a row – was, however, not ­required to bring Liverpool back to being a superpower again. “I don’t think we need that moment to ­restore it,” Klopp argued. “I think it is obvious we are back. That is absolutely [obvious]. “To qualify for a final, it shows that you are back. To win it? You need a little bit of luck and stuff like that is involved. But we are back. First and foremost. Even if you win, you cannot stop. If you lose, you cannot stop. I really like the way we are as a club, as a team.” This season’s feats, therefore, are the start of something now that Liverpool have momentum. “Yes, 100 per cent,” Klopp said. “We feel in a good place. Not in a place to rest or whatever. No. Not at all. This is ­really a good place to use.” Champions League final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool That place brings expectancy of doing well next season and history shows that reaching Champions League finals is often followed by more appearances. Of the previous 10 finals, four clubs have been involved three times each, and three have been there twice. “What I said to the boys before the semi-final was that I don’t think we are the last time here,” Klopp said. “I don’t think that. I didn’t want to take the pressure off them or whatever, I only think we are a club and a team next year that could be here again, far in the competition. That’s what I said.” Not that Klopp, attempting to win a European final at his third ­attempt, is unaware of the importance of seizing this incredible opportunity. “We are Liverpool. And that is what we will really live in that moment,” he said. “We are Liverpool. We are different. We have been different the whole campaign and we want to be different again in that final. We have a chance. That is all.” That sense of being different was expanded upon. “I don’t know exactly why I think it constantly but we are Liverpool. It is like it is,” Klopp said. “That’s why we are in the final, not because we are the best team in the competition and everybody thought before the season, ‘Yeah, Liverpool and we will see’. It was exactly the other way around. The boys played this kind of football that was different.” He then clicked his fingers three times to emphasise that Liverpool had done it “again and again” ­during their exhilarating campaign. “We had so many game-changing moments. Unbelievable. We showed them [to the players] from time to time after the game because nobody really thinks about them,” Klopp added, before detailing three moments: against Porto, Sevilla and, even, against Maribor in the group stages when the ball was won back through endeavour and belief. “These moments, and we had them 500 times, and we need them again,” he said. “You need these game-changing moments. Not waiting for something, not hoping for something, no, change the game in the moments you can change it.” It was illuminating that all three examples described by Klopp involved Mohamed Salah; and not one involved him actually scoring a goal. Having defeated Porto, Manchester City and Roma in the knockout stages, and being the competition’s highest scorers with a record 46 goals, Liverpool undoubtedly deserve to be here. Liverpool have enjoyed a sensational Champions League campaign Credit: Getty Images “The home games were like, ‘Wow, what’s that?’” Klopp said. “It was kind of a new level in the Champions League in these games. It was not that we are so much better, but it was so different, so brave, it was big-balls football. I really loved it. The power we had against City, for example, was like, ‘What’s that?’ They were better in all the other parts of the game, they played until they were in our six-yard box but, when we were in possession, it was massive.” And now Liverpool have to “do it all over again” against the holders, with all their experience, know-how and big names. “We have to defend with all we have,” Klopp said. “Let them do a cross and you need the fire workers [fighters] in the box. Avoid all crosses, avoid all shots, avoid all passes … I know the pressure will come, but in this moment I only feel the opportunity.” So, Liverpool must take that ­opportunity. The crowd, even in a neutral venue, with tickets criminally limited and logistics cruelly tough, will play their part, especially those in Liverpool red. “Outstanding power, that creates an outstanding power,” Klopp ­enthused. “It’s difficult to describe but fantastic to be involved in. That’s really big. Atmosphere in a club like Liverpool makes a difference. This club is used to it, the crowd is used to having influence, they want it. When I came in, it was a little more that they had influence but they didn’t want to use it, it was now ‘you start to deliver before we start to perform’. “That was a little bit the situation. Now it is like both batteries are recharged, both can perform and that makes it really special. It’s big.” Unsurprisingly, the emotional pull for Klopp was significant. “I don’t know why I was so attracted, but when I got the call, I knew my break would be finished,” he said of taking the Liverpool job three years ago, five months after leaving Borussia Dortmund. “It’s not that I have read books about different clubs so I can give an explanation and say ‘that is the club that attracted me most’ or ‘they are in the most difficult situation, maybe I can help them the most’. It wasn’t this. It was only a feeling. And that feeling, obviously, was right. This club gives you the power, the players, the teams that you can win big things from time to time.” It does not come any bigger than this. That time is now.
Jurgen Klopp has declared that Liverpool are back among Europe’s elite because of the “big-balls football” played in their exceptional run to the Champions League final. The comment was a true Klopp-ism. On the eve of facing Real Madrid here, the Liverpool manager was at his inspirational, charismatic best. He hailed the “outstanding power” that came from the bond between his team and the fans and spoke passionately about how Liverpool were “different” from other clubs – which is why he made the “100 per cent” emotional response to join them in October 2015. Winning a sixth European Cup – and denying Real a 13th, and a third in a row – was, however, not ­required to bring Liverpool back to being a superpower again. “I don’t think we need that moment to ­restore it,” Klopp argued. “I think it is obvious we are back. That is absolutely [obvious]. “To qualify for a final, it shows that you are back. To win it? You need a little bit of luck and stuff like that is involved. But we are back. First and foremost. Even if you win, you cannot stop. If you lose, you cannot stop. I really like the way we are as a club, as a team.” This season’s feats, therefore, are the start of something now that Liverpool have momentum. “Yes, 100 per cent,” Klopp said. “We feel in a good place. Not in a place to rest or whatever. No. Not at all. This is ­really a good place to use.” Champions League final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool That place brings expectancy of doing well next season and history shows that reaching Champions League finals is often followed by more appearances. Of the previous 10 finals, four clubs have been involved three times each, and three have been there twice. “What I said to the boys before the semi-final was that I don’t think we are the last time here,” Klopp said. “I don’t think that. I didn’t want to take the pressure off them or whatever, I only think we are a club and a team next year that could be here again, far in the competition. That’s what I said.” Not that Klopp, attempting to win a European final at his third ­attempt, is unaware of the importance of seizing this incredible opportunity. “We are Liverpool. And that is what we will really live in that moment,” he said. “We are Liverpool. We are different. We have been different the whole campaign and we want to be different again in that final. We have a chance. That is all.” That sense of being different was expanded upon. “I don’t know exactly why I think it constantly but we are Liverpool. It is like it is,” Klopp said. “That’s why we are in the final, not because we are the best team in the competition and everybody thought before the season, ‘Yeah, Liverpool and we will see’. It was exactly the other way around. The boys played this kind of football that was different.” He then clicked his fingers three times to emphasise that Liverpool had done it “again and again” ­during their exhilarating campaign. “We had so many game-changing moments. Unbelievable. We showed them [to the players] from time to time after the game because nobody really thinks about them,” Klopp added, before detailing three moments: against Porto, Sevilla and, even, against Maribor in the group stages when the ball was won back through endeavour and belief. “These moments, and we had them 500 times, and we need them again,” he said. “You need these game-changing moments. Not waiting for something, not hoping for something, no, change the game in the moments you can change it.” It was illuminating that all three examples described by Klopp involved Mohamed Salah; and not one involved him actually scoring a goal. Having defeated Porto, Manchester City and Roma in the knockout stages, and being the competition’s highest scorers with a record 46 goals, Liverpool undoubtedly deserve to be here. Liverpool have enjoyed a sensational Champions League campaign Credit: Getty Images “The home games were like, ‘Wow, what’s that?’” Klopp said. “It was kind of a new level in the Champions League in these games. It was not that we are so much better, but it was so different, so brave, it was big-balls football. I really loved it. The power we had against City, for example, was like, ‘What’s that?’ They were better in all the other parts of the game, they played until they were in our six-yard box but, when we were in possession, it was massive.” And now Liverpool have to “do it all over again” against the holders, with all their experience, know-how and big names. “We have to defend with all we have,” Klopp said. “Let them do a cross and you need the fire workers [fighters] in the box. Avoid all crosses, avoid all shots, avoid all passes … I know the pressure will come, but in this moment I only feel the opportunity.” So, Liverpool must take that ­opportunity. The crowd, even in a neutral venue, with tickets criminally limited and logistics cruelly tough, will play their part, especially those in Liverpool red. “Outstanding power, that creates an outstanding power,” Klopp ­enthused. “It’s difficult to describe but fantastic to be involved in. That’s really big. Atmosphere in a club like Liverpool makes a difference. This club is used to it, the crowd is used to having influence, they want it. When I came in, it was a little more that they had influence but they didn’t want to use it, it was now ‘you start to deliver before we start to perform’. “That was a little bit the situation. Now it is like both batteries are recharged, both can perform and that makes it really special. It’s big.” Unsurprisingly, the emotional pull for Klopp was significant. “I don’t know why I was so attracted, but when I got the call, I knew my break would be finished,” he said of taking the Liverpool job three years ago, five months after leaving Borussia Dortmund. “It’s not that I have read books about different clubs so I can give an explanation and say ‘that is the club that attracted me most’ or ‘they are in the most difficult situation, maybe I can help them the most’. It wasn’t this. It was only a feeling. And that feeling, obviously, was right. This club gives you the power, the players, the teams that you can win big things from time to time.” It does not come any bigger than this. That time is now.
Jurgen Klopp: 'Big-balls football' has made Liverpool a superclub again
Jurgen Klopp has declared that Liverpool are back among Europe’s elite because of the “big-balls football” played in their exceptional run to the Champions League final. The comment was a true Klopp-ism. On the eve of facing Real Madrid here, the Liverpool manager was at his inspirational, charismatic best. He hailed the “outstanding power” that came from the bond between his team and the fans and spoke passionately about how Liverpool were “different” from other clubs – which is why he made the “100 per cent” emotional response to join them in October 2015. Winning a sixth European Cup – and denying Real a 13th, and a third in a row – was, however, not ­required to bring Liverpool back to being a superpower again. “I don’t think we need that moment to ­restore it,” Klopp argued. “I think it is obvious we are back. That is absolutely [obvious]. “To qualify for a final, it shows that you are back. To win it? You need a little bit of luck and stuff like that is involved. But we are back. First and foremost. Even if you win, you cannot stop. If you lose, you cannot stop. I really like the way we are as a club, as a team.” This season’s feats, therefore, are the start of something now that Liverpool have momentum. “Yes, 100 per cent,” Klopp said. “We feel in a good place. Not in a place to rest or whatever. No. Not at all. This is ­really a good place to use.” Champions League final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool That place brings expectancy of doing well next season and history shows that reaching Champions League finals is often followed by more appearances. Of the previous 10 finals, four clubs have been involved three times each, and three have been there twice. “What I said to the boys before the semi-final was that I don’t think we are the last time here,” Klopp said. “I don’t think that. I didn’t want to take the pressure off them or whatever, I only think we are a club and a team next year that could be here again, far in the competition. That’s what I said.” Not that Klopp, attempting to win a European final at his third ­attempt, is unaware of the importance of seizing this incredible opportunity. “We are Liverpool. And that is what we will really live in that moment,” he said. “We are Liverpool. We are different. We have been different the whole campaign and we want to be different again in that final. We have a chance. That is all.” That sense of being different was expanded upon. “I don’t know exactly why I think it constantly but we are Liverpool. It is like it is,” Klopp said. “That’s why we are in the final, not because we are the best team in the competition and everybody thought before the season, ‘Yeah, Liverpool and we will see’. It was exactly the other way around. The boys played this kind of football that was different.” He then clicked his fingers three times to emphasise that Liverpool had done it “again and again” ­during their exhilarating campaign. “We had so many game-changing moments. Unbelievable. We showed them [to the players] from time to time after the game because nobody really thinks about them,” Klopp added, before detailing three moments: against Porto, Sevilla and, even, against Maribor in the group stages when the ball was won back through endeavour and belief. “These moments, and we had them 500 times, and we need them again,” he said. “You need these game-changing moments. Not waiting for something, not hoping for something, no, change the game in the moments you can change it.” It was illuminating that all three examples described by Klopp involved Mohamed Salah; and not one involved him actually scoring a goal. Having defeated Porto, Manchester City and Roma in the knockout stages, and being the competition’s highest scorers with a record 46 goals, Liverpool undoubtedly deserve to be here. Liverpool have enjoyed a sensational Champions League campaign Credit: Getty Images “The home games were like, ‘Wow, what’s that?’” Klopp said. “It was kind of a new level in the Champions League in these games. It was not that we are so much better, but it was so different, so brave, it was big-balls football. I really loved it. The power we had against City, for example, was like, ‘What’s that?’ They were better in all the other parts of the game, they played until they were in our six-yard box but, when we were in possession, it was massive.” And now Liverpool have to “do it all over again” against the holders, with all their experience, know-how and big names. “We have to defend with all we have,” Klopp said. “Let them do a cross and you need the fire workers [fighters] in the box. Avoid all crosses, avoid all shots, avoid all passes … I know the pressure will come, but in this moment I only feel the opportunity.” So, Liverpool must take that ­opportunity. The crowd, even in a neutral venue, with tickets criminally limited and logistics cruelly tough, will play their part, especially those in Liverpool red. “Outstanding power, that creates an outstanding power,” Klopp ­enthused. “It’s difficult to describe but fantastic to be involved in. That’s really big. Atmosphere in a club like Liverpool makes a difference. This club is used to it, the crowd is used to having influence, they want it. When I came in, it was a little more that they had influence but they didn’t want to use it, it was now ‘you start to deliver before we start to perform’. “That was a little bit the situation. Now it is like both batteries are recharged, both can perform and that makes it really special. It’s big.” Unsurprisingly, the emotional pull for Klopp was significant. “I don’t know why I was so attracted, but when I got the call, I knew my break would be finished,” he said of taking the Liverpool job three years ago, five months after leaving Borussia Dortmund. “It’s not that I have read books about different clubs so I can give an explanation and say ‘that is the club that attracted me most’ or ‘they are in the most difficult situation, maybe I can help them the most’. It wasn’t this. It was only a feeling. And that feeling, obviously, was right. This club gives you the power, the players, the teams that you can win big things from time to time.” It does not come any bigger than this. That time is now.
Unai Emery has received an early boost to his Arsenal career after majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agreed to release an extra £20million in transfer funds. Arsenal had set a £50m restriction on their transfer budget, discounting money made on sales, but Telegraph Sport understands that figure has now increased to around £70m. It is understood that Kroenke himself gave the green light to provide Emery with a bigger budget than initially expected in a bid to help Arsenal’s new head coach as much as possible. Arsenal will still need to bring significant money in through sales to be able to compete with their rivals in this summer’s transfer market, but the extra cash has been welcomed by Emery. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will work closely with Emery on transfers under Arsenal’s new set-up and the pair have already started to identify targets. Unai Emery is known to be an admirer of Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini Credit: Getty Images Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose contract contains a £26m release clause, is admired by Emery along with Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet, who has been strongly linked with Juventus. Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu had been targeted by Mislinat and Arsenal before Emery’s appointment, as was Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Emery claimed he only intends to make small changes to his squad before the start of next season, but Arsenal particularly want to strengthen their defence and midfield. The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla manager has also promised to use Arsenal’s young players and, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Emery is already a fan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. “What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” said Gazidis. “If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has particularly impressed Arsenal's new head coach Credit: Reuters “He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. “Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic. “There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. “What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”
Arsenal increase summer transfer budget to £70m in early boost for Unai Emery
Unai Emery has received an early boost to his Arsenal career after majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agreed to release an extra £20million in transfer funds. Arsenal had set a £50m restriction on their transfer budget, discounting money made on sales, but Telegraph Sport understands that figure has now increased to around £70m. It is understood that Kroenke himself gave the green light to provide Emery with a bigger budget than initially expected in a bid to help Arsenal’s new head coach as much as possible. Arsenal will still need to bring significant money in through sales to be able to compete with their rivals in this summer’s transfer market, but the extra cash has been welcomed by Emery. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will work closely with Emery on transfers under Arsenal’s new set-up and the pair have already started to identify targets. Unai Emery is known to be an admirer of Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini Credit: Getty Images Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose contract contains a £26m release clause, is admired by Emery along with Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet, who has been strongly linked with Juventus. Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu had been targeted by Mislinat and Arsenal before Emery’s appointment, as was Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Emery claimed he only intends to make small changes to his squad before the start of next season, but Arsenal particularly want to strengthen their defence and midfield. The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla manager has also promised to use Arsenal’s young players and, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Emery is already a fan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. “What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” said Gazidis. “If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has particularly impressed Arsenal's new head coach Credit: Reuters “He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. “Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic. “There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. “What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”
Unai Emery has received an early boost to his Arsenal career after majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agreed to release an extra £20million in transfer funds. But Emery’s first signing may well be a free transfer, with the Gunners working on a deal for right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner. The 34-year-old will be a free agent when his Juventus contract expires and Arsenal believe he could bring some much-needed leadership to the squad, as well as relieving the workload on Hector Bellerin. Arsenal had set a £50m restriction on their transfer budget, discounting money made on sales, but Telegraph Sport understands that figure has now increased to around £70m. It is understood that Kroenke himself gave the green light to provide Emery with a bigger budget than initially expected in a bid to help Arsenal’s new head coach as much as possible. Unai Emery is known to be an admirer of Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini Credit: Getty Images Arsenal will still need to bring significant money in through sales to be able to compete with their rivals in this summer’s transfer market, but the extra cash has been welcomed by Emery. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will work closely with Emery on transfers under Arsenal’s new set-up and the pair have already started to identify targets. As well as Lichtsteiner, Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose contract contains a £26m release clause, is admired by Emery along with Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet, who has been strongly linked with Juventus. Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu had been targeted by Mislinat and Arsenal before Emery’s appointment, as was Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Emery claimed he only intends to make small changes to his squad before the start of next season, but Arsenal particularly want to strengthen their defence and midfield. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has particularly impressed Arsenal's new head coach Credit: Reuters The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla manager has also promised to use Arsenal’s young players and, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Emery is already a fan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. “What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” said Gazidis. “If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. “He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. “Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic. “There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. “What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”
Unai Emery given increased Arsenal summer transfer budget - but first signing could be free agent Stephan Lichtsteiner
Unai Emery has received an early boost to his Arsenal career after majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agreed to release an extra £20million in transfer funds. But Emery’s first signing may well be a free transfer, with the Gunners working on a deal for right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner. The 34-year-old will be a free agent when his Juventus contract expires and Arsenal believe he could bring some much-needed leadership to the squad, as well as relieving the workload on Hector Bellerin. Arsenal had set a £50m restriction on their transfer budget, discounting money made on sales, but Telegraph Sport understands that figure has now increased to around £70m. It is understood that Kroenke himself gave the green light to provide Emery with a bigger budget than initially expected in a bid to help Arsenal’s new head coach as much as possible. Unai Emery is known to be an admirer of Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini Credit: Getty Images Arsenal will still need to bring significant money in through sales to be able to compete with their rivals in this summer’s transfer market, but the extra cash has been welcomed by Emery. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will work closely with Emery on transfers under Arsenal’s new set-up and the pair have already started to identify targets. As well as Lichtsteiner, Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose contract contains a £26m release clause, is admired by Emery along with Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet, who has been strongly linked with Juventus. Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu had been targeted by Mislinat and Arsenal before Emery’s appointment, as was Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Emery claimed he only intends to make small changes to his squad before the start of next season, but Arsenal particularly want to strengthen their defence and midfield. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has particularly impressed Arsenal's new head coach Credit: Reuters The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla manager has also promised to use Arsenal’s young players and, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Emery is already a fan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. “What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” said Gazidis. “If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. “He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. “Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic. “There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. “What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”
Unai Emery has received an early boost to his Arsenal career after majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agreed to release an extra £20million in transfer funds. But Emery’s first signing may well be a free transfer, with the Gunners working on a deal for right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner. The 34-year-old will be a free agent when his Juventus contract expires and Arsenal believe he could bring some much-needed leadership to the squad, as well as relieving the workload on Hector Bellerin. Arsenal had set a £50m restriction on their transfer budget, discounting money made on sales, but Telegraph Sport understands that figure has now increased to around £70m. It is understood that Kroenke himself gave the green light to provide Emery with a bigger budget than initially expected in a bid to help Arsenal’s new head coach as much as possible. Unai Emery is known to be an admirer of Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini Credit: Getty Images Arsenal will still need to bring significant money in through sales to be able to compete with their rivals in this summer’s transfer market, but the extra cash has been welcomed by Emery. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will work closely with Emery on transfers under Arsenal’s new set-up and the pair have already started to identify targets. As well as Lichtsteiner, Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose contract contains a £26m release clause, is admired by Emery along with Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet, who has been strongly linked with Juventus. Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu had been targeted by Mislinat and Arsenal before Emery’s appointment, as was Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Emery claimed he only intends to make small changes to his squad before the start of next season, but Arsenal particularly want to strengthen their defence and midfield. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has particularly impressed Arsenal's new head coach Credit: Reuters The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla manager has also promised to use Arsenal’s young players and, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Emery is already a fan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. “What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” said Gazidis. “If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. “He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. “Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic. “There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. “What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”
Unai Emery given increased Arsenal summer transfer budget - but first signing could be free agent Stephan Lichtsteiner
Unai Emery has received an early boost to his Arsenal career after majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agreed to release an extra £20million in transfer funds. But Emery’s first signing may well be a free transfer, with the Gunners working on a deal for right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner. The 34-year-old will be a free agent when his Juventus contract expires and Arsenal believe he could bring some much-needed leadership to the squad, as well as relieving the workload on Hector Bellerin. Arsenal had set a £50m restriction on their transfer budget, discounting money made on sales, but Telegraph Sport understands that figure has now increased to around £70m. It is understood that Kroenke himself gave the green light to provide Emery with a bigger budget than initially expected in a bid to help Arsenal’s new head coach as much as possible. Unai Emery is known to be an admirer of Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini Credit: Getty Images Arsenal will still need to bring significant money in through sales to be able to compete with their rivals in this summer’s transfer market, but the extra cash has been welcomed by Emery. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will work closely with Emery on transfers under Arsenal’s new set-up and the pair have already started to identify targets. As well as Lichtsteiner, Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose contract contains a £26m release clause, is admired by Emery along with Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet, who has been strongly linked with Juventus. Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu had been targeted by Mislinat and Arsenal before Emery’s appointment, as was Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Emery claimed he only intends to make small changes to his squad before the start of next season, but Arsenal particularly want to strengthen their defence and midfield. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has particularly impressed Arsenal's new head coach Credit: Reuters The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla manager has also promised to use Arsenal’s young players and, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Emery is already a fan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. “What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” said Gazidis. “If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. “He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. “Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic. “There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. “What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”
Unai Emery has received an early boost to his Arsenal career after majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agreed to release an extra £20million in transfer funds. But Emery’s first signing may well be a free transfer, with the Gunners working on a deal for right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner. The 34-year-old will be a free agent when his Juventus contract expires and Arsenal believe he could bring some much-needed leadership to the squad, as well as relieving the workload on Hector Bellerin. Arsenal had set a £50m restriction on their transfer budget, discounting money made on sales, but Telegraph Sport understands that figure has now increased to around £70m. It is understood that Kroenke himself gave the green light to provide Emery with a bigger budget than initially expected in a bid to help Arsenal’s new head coach as much as possible. Unai Emery is known to be an admirer of Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini Credit: Getty Images Arsenal will still need to bring significant money in through sales to be able to compete with their rivals in this summer’s transfer market, but the extra cash has been welcomed by Emery. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will work closely with Emery on transfers under Arsenal’s new set-up and the pair have already started to identify targets. As well as Lichtsteiner, Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose contract contains a £26m release clause, is admired by Emery along with Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet, who has been strongly linked with Juventus. Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu had been targeted by Mislinat and Arsenal before Emery’s appointment, as was Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Emery claimed he only intends to make small changes to his squad before the start of next season, but Arsenal particularly want to strengthen their defence and midfield. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has particularly impressed Arsenal's new head coach Credit: Reuters The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla manager has also promised to use Arsenal’s young players and, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Emery is already a fan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. “What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” said Gazidis. “If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. “He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. “Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic. “There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. “What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”
Unai Emery given increased Arsenal summer transfer budget - but first signing could be free agent Stephan Lichtsteiner
Unai Emery has received an early boost to his Arsenal career after majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agreed to release an extra £20million in transfer funds. But Emery’s first signing may well be a free transfer, with the Gunners working on a deal for right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner. The 34-year-old will be a free agent when his Juventus contract expires and Arsenal believe he could bring some much-needed leadership to the squad, as well as relieving the workload on Hector Bellerin. Arsenal had set a £50m restriction on their transfer budget, discounting money made on sales, but Telegraph Sport understands that figure has now increased to around £70m. It is understood that Kroenke himself gave the green light to provide Emery with a bigger budget than initially expected in a bid to help Arsenal’s new head coach as much as possible. Unai Emery is known to be an admirer of Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini Credit: Getty Images Arsenal will still need to bring significant money in through sales to be able to compete with their rivals in this summer’s transfer market, but the extra cash has been welcomed by Emery. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will work closely with Emery on transfers under Arsenal’s new set-up and the pair have already started to identify targets. As well as Lichtsteiner, Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose contract contains a £26m release clause, is admired by Emery along with Sampdoria’s Dennis Praet, who has been strongly linked with Juventus. Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu had been targeted by Mislinat and Arsenal before Emery’s appointment, as was Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Emery claimed he only intends to make small changes to his squad before the start of next season, but Arsenal particularly want to strengthen their defence and midfield. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has particularly impressed Arsenal's new head coach Credit: Reuters The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla manager has also promised to use Arsenal’s young players and, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Emery is already a fan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. “What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” said Gazidis. “If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. “He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. “Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic. “There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. “What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”
I need only talk about the venue and the memories come pouring back. Istanbul. Say the word at Anfield and that is enough. It is the same for Paris and Rome. To some they conjure images of landmarks from Europe’s greatest cities. For Liverpool supporters these locations are inseparable from the pictures of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard lifting the European Cup. I played 737 games for Liverpool. No matter where I go, supporters ask about one. My career – and that of each of my teammates on that glorious evening in the Ataturk Stadium - is defined by victory over AC Milan in 2005. Everything I aspired to be as a footballer was geared towards preparing me for that moment. Everything I aspired to after was about maintaining the standard that helped achieve that ambition. The reputation of those of us who won that night is bonded for eternity. Many years ago I watched a documentary about the British and Irish Lions touring South Africa in 1997. Sir Ian McGeechan was speaking to his squad before the second Test, and the words he delivered resonate when I think of the Champions League final. Carragher (L) celebrates Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 Credit: Getty Images “There are days like this. Many players never have it,” he said. “It is special. These are the days you never believe will come again. As you meet each other in the street in 30 years time, there will just be a look. No words. Just a look. You’ll know how special some days in your lives are.” It sounded like he was quoting my favourite Beatles song: "There are places I remember all my life. I know I'll often stop and think about them." My Liverpool teammates from 2005 came to understand ‘the look’ as McGeechan described it. We understand the uniqueness of the experience that ties us. Those Liverpool players walking out in Kiev are not just on the threshold of legendary status – which is so valuable to the club and their careers - but forming that same connection which they will cherish beyond their playing days. Win, and they will have books written, documentaries produced and museum exhibitions curated. They will enjoy reunions celebrating their triumph, and the performances against Porto, Manchester City and Roma that took them there. It may sound a cliché, but it is true. Lives will change. The current Liverpool team is on the cusp of greatness Credit: Getty Images Lose, and the memories fade, as they did after I lost the final in Athens in 2007. We beat Barcelona and Chelsea that year. No-one ever mentions it. Athens is just a place to go and visit the Parthenon. Whatever the result in Kiev, I can recall from my own experience what will be said on Sunday morning. “This is just the start. We must build on this,” is the message of the winners. “We can’t forget what we achieved to get here. We will recover and try again,” is the consoling wisdom for those defeated. These will be words devoid of meaning. Forget the past. Ignore the consequences for the future. This is it. Here and now. It is not about starting a new era for those players, or continuing a ‘five-year plan’. Win the European Cup and the world holds you in a higher regard. It cannot and will not get any better than the feeling of holding that beautiful trophy for the first time. You are elevated to global status. My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level. Everything changed for Liverpool's players after the 'Miracle of Istanbul' Credit: Getty Images I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career - where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final. I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me. Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did. The nature of our victory led many to say it was a fluke, but in subsequent years key members of that side – Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and myself – played in another final, semi-final and quarter-final. The game itself was freakish, but the standard of our performance to win was not. We became better players, and a much-improved team after 2005. The Liverpool side that lost to AC Milan in 2007 was superior to that which won the competition, but we never experienced the emotion of Istanbul again. The four years between 2005 and 2009 were my most consistent as a footballer, in part because of the belief I took from winning the Champions League, but also because having seen my reputation soar in Europe I was even more determined not to let it slip. I do not like the word ‘arrogant’ but when you hear managers talk about this in a football sense, this is what they mean – knowing you have played well under the greatest pressure and you will do so again. This is why players will often tell you winning that first trophy breeds more success. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool There will be players in Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room today going through a similar transformation.If you interviewed Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dejan Lovren a year ago, and asked if they regarded themselves as peers of Real Madrid, what would the reaction be? A humble response, I would bet. Yes, they would have spoken of their ambitions and belief in their ability, but getting to the level of the two-time Champions League winners at the end of this season? They would have cautioned about expecting too much, too soon. Any other response would have been mocked. Look where Liverpool have recruited some of their players: Hull, Sunderland, Southampton and Mainz. They must have doubted they would ever play in such a fixture. What will those Liverpool players say if they win this game? They will want more of the same and demand more from themselves. My fear is they are facing a side well-established on this pedestal, with the greatest understanding of how to win at all costs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are ‘beasts’ of the modern game, in the best sense of the word. I have confidence the Liverpool players will perform because they have already done so under the highest pressure. Player-for-player, this Liverpool team is better than that which won in Istanbul. It has fewer weaknesses. Yet I maintain the true star of this Liverpool team is the manager. Like his players, Klopp will be consumed by getting over the line. He has been there before and suffered. This is his third European final. Liverpool are in their fifth in 17 years. Some clubs and managers never experience one, but winning isn’t everything - it is the only thing. It is not only the reputation of players that is irreversibly enhanced by lifting the Champions League. This is also true of managers. Klopp will join Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez as an Anfield immortal if he succeeds. To join the elite ranks of ‘super-coaches’ he must add the European Cup to his CV. There has been a prolonged build-up this game. The players and manager will be sick of talking about it. If they win, everything changes. They will be talking about it for forever. My hope is those players will need only state a single word to start the conversation.
The Champions League changed my life - it can do the same for this Liverpool team
I need only talk about the venue and the memories come pouring back. Istanbul. Say the word at Anfield and that is enough. It is the same for Paris and Rome. To some they conjure images of landmarks from Europe’s greatest cities. For Liverpool supporters these locations are inseparable from the pictures of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard lifting the European Cup. I played 737 games for Liverpool. No matter where I go, supporters ask about one. My career – and that of each of my teammates on that glorious evening in the Ataturk Stadium - is defined by victory over AC Milan in 2005. Everything I aspired to be as a footballer was geared towards preparing me for that moment. Everything I aspired to after was about maintaining the standard that helped achieve that ambition. The reputation of those of us who won that night is bonded for eternity. Many years ago I watched a documentary about the British and Irish Lions touring South Africa in 1997. Sir Ian McGeechan was speaking to his squad before the second Test, and the words he delivered resonate when I think of the Champions League final. Carragher (L) celebrates Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 Credit: Getty Images “There are days like this. Many players never have it,” he said. “It is special. These are the days you never believe will come again. As you meet each other in the street in 30 years time, there will just be a look. No words. Just a look. You’ll know how special some days in your lives are.” It sounded like he was quoting my favourite Beatles song: "There are places I remember all my life. I know I'll often stop and think about them." My Liverpool teammates from 2005 came to understand ‘the look’ as McGeechan described it. We understand the uniqueness of the experience that ties us. Those Liverpool players walking out in Kiev are not just on the threshold of legendary status – which is so valuable to the club and their careers - but forming that same connection which they will cherish beyond their playing days. Win, and they will have books written, documentaries produced and museum exhibitions curated. They will enjoy reunions celebrating their triumph, and the performances against Porto, Manchester City and Roma that took them there. It may sound a cliché, but it is true. Lives will change. The current Liverpool team is on the cusp of greatness Credit: Getty Images Lose, and the memories fade, as they did after I lost the final in Athens in 2007. We beat Barcelona and Chelsea that year. No-one ever mentions it. Athens is just a place to go and visit the Parthenon. Whatever the result in Kiev, I can recall from my own experience what will be said on Sunday morning. “This is just the start. We must build on this,” is the message of the winners. “We can’t forget what we achieved to get here. We will recover and try again,” is the consoling wisdom for those defeated. These will be words devoid of meaning. Forget the past. Ignore the consequences for the future. This is it. Here and now. It is not about starting a new era for those players, or continuing a ‘five-year plan’. Win the European Cup and the world holds you in a higher regard. It cannot and will not get any better than the feeling of holding that beautiful trophy for the first time. You are elevated to global status. My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level. Everything changed for Liverpool's players after the 'Miracle of Istanbul' Credit: Getty Images I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career - where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final. I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me. Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did. The nature of our victory led many to say it was a fluke, but in subsequent years key members of that side – Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and myself – played in another final, semi-final and quarter-final. The game itself was freakish, but the standard of our performance to win was not. We became better players, and a much-improved team after 2005. The Liverpool side that lost to AC Milan in 2007 was superior to that which won the competition, but we never experienced the emotion of Istanbul again. The four years between 2005 and 2009 were my most consistent as a footballer, in part because of the belief I took from winning the Champions League, but also because having seen my reputation soar in Europe I was even more determined not to let it slip. I do not like the word ‘arrogant’ but when you hear managers talk about this in a football sense, this is what they mean – knowing you have played well under the greatest pressure and you will do so again. This is why players will often tell you winning that first trophy breeds more success. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool There will be players in Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room today going through a similar transformation.If you interviewed Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dejan Lovren a year ago, and asked if they regarded themselves as peers of Real Madrid, what would the reaction be? A humble response, I would bet. Yes, they would have spoken of their ambitions and belief in their ability, but getting to the level of the two-time Champions League winners at the end of this season? They would have cautioned about expecting too much, too soon. Any other response would have been mocked. Look where Liverpool have recruited some of their players: Hull, Sunderland, Southampton and Mainz. They must have doubted they would ever play in such a fixture. What will those Liverpool players say if they win this game? They will want more of the same and demand more from themselves. My fear is they are facing a side well-established on this pedestal, with the greatest understanding of how to win at all costs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are ‘beasts’ of the modern game, in the best sense of the word. I have confidence the Liverpool players will perform because they have already done so under the highest pressure. Player-for-player, this Liverpool team is better than that which won in Istanbul. It has fewer weaknesses. Yet I maintain the true star of this Liverpool team is the manager. Like his players, Klopp will be consumed by getting over the line. He has been there before and suffered. This is his third European final. Liverpool are in their fifth in 17 years. Some clubs and managers never experience one, but winning isn’t everything - it is the only thing. It is not only the reputation of players that is irreversibly enhanced by lifting the Champions League. This is also true of managers. Klopp will join Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez as an Anfield immortal if he succeeds. To join the elite ranks of ‘super-coaches’ he must add the European Cup to his CV. There has been a prolonged build-up this game. The players and manager will be sick of talking about it. If they win, everything changes. They will be talking about it for forever. My hope is those players will need only state a single word to start the conversation.
I need only talk about the venue and the memories come pouring back. Istanbul. Say the word at Anfield and that is enough. It is the same for Paris and Rome. To some they conjure images of landmarks from Europe’s greatest cities. For Liverpool supporters these locations are inseparable from the pictures of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard lifting the European Cup. I played 737 games for Liverpool. No matter where I go, supporters ask about one. My career – and that of each of my teammates on that glorious evening in the Ataturk Stadium - is defined by victory over AC Milan in 2005. Everything I aspired to be as a footballer was geared towards preparing me for that moment. Everything I aspired to after was about maintaining the standard that helped achieve that ambition. The reputation of those of us who won that night is bonded for eternity. Many years ago I watched a documentary about the British and Irish Lions touring South Africa in 1997. Sir Ian McGeechan was speaking to his squad before the second Test, and the words he delivered resonate when I think of the Champions League final. Carragher (L) celebrates Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 Credit: Getty Images “There are days like this. Many players never have it,” he said. “It is special. These are the days you never believe will come again. As you meet each other in the street in 30 years time, there will just be a look. No words. Just a look. You’ll know how special some days in your lives are.” It sounded like he was quoting my favourite Beatles song: "There are places I remember all my life. I know I'll often stop and think about them." My Liverpool teammates from 2005 came to understand ‘the look’ as McGeechan described it. We understand the uniqueness of the experience that ties us. Those Liverpool players walking out in Kiev are not just on the threshold of legendary status – which is so valuable to the club and their careers - but forming that same connection which they will cherish beyond their playing days. Win, and they will have books written, documentaries produced and museum exhibitions curated. They will enjoy reunions celebrating their triumph, and the performances against Porto, Manchester City and Roma that took them there. It may sound a cliché, but it is true. Lives will change. The current Liverpool team is on the cusp of greatness Credit: Getty Images Lose, and the memories fade, as they did after I lost the final in Athens in 2007. We beat Barcelona and Chelsea that year. No-one ever mentions it. Athens is just a place to go and visit the Parthenon. Whatever the result in Kiev, I can recall from my own experience what will be said on Sunday morning. “This is just the start. We must build on this,” is the message of the winners. “We can’t forget what we achieved to get here. We will recover and try again,” is the consoling wisdom for those defeated. These will be words devoid of meaning. Forget the past. Ignore the consequences for the future. This is it. Here and now. It is not about starting a new era for those players, or continuing a ‘five-year plan’. Win the European Cup and the world holds you in a higher regard. It cannot and will not get any better than the feeling of holding that beautiful trophy for the first time. You are elevated to global status. My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level. Everything changed for Liverpool's players after the 'Miracle of Istanbul' Credit: Getty Images I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career - where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final. I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me. Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did. The nature of our victory led many to say it was a fluke, but in subsequent years key members of that side – Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and myself – played in another final, semi-final and quarter-final. The game itself was freakish, but the standard of our performance to win was not. We became better players, and a much-improved team after 2005. The Liverpool side that lost to AC Milan in 2007 was superior to that which won the competition, but we never experienced the emotion of Istanbul again. The four years between 2005 and 2009 were my most consistent as a footballer, in part because of the belief I took from winning the Champions League, but also because having seen my reputation soar in Europe I was even more determined not to let it slip. I do not like the word ‘arrogant’ but when you hear managers talk about this in a football sense, this is what they mean – knowing you have played well under the greatest pressure and you will do so again. This is why players will often tell you winning that first trophy breeds more success. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool There will be players in Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room today going through a similar transformation.If you interviewed Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dejan Lovren a year ago, and asked if they regarded themselves as peers of Real Madrid, what would the reaction be? A humble response, I would bet. Yes, they would have spoken of their ambitions and belief in their ability, but getting to the level of the two-time Champions League winners at the end of this season? They would have cautioned about expecting too much, too soon. Any other response would have been mocked. Look where Liverpool have recruited some of their players: Hull, Sunderland, Southampton and Mainz. They must have doubted they would ever play in such a fixture. What will those Liverpool players say if they win this game? They will want more of the same and demand more from themselves. My fear is they are facing a side well-established on this pedestal, with the greatest understanding of how to win at all costs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are ‘beasts’ of the modern game, in the best sense of the word. I have confidence the Liverpool players will perform because they have already done so under the highest pressure. Player-for-player, this Liverpool team is better than that which won in Istanbul. It has fewer weaknesses. Yet I maintain the true star of this Liverpool team is the manager. Like his players, Klopp will be consumed by getting over the line. He has been there before and suffered. This is his third European final. Liverpool are in their fifth in 17 years. Some clubs and managers never experience one, but winning isn’t everything - it is the only thing. It is not only the reputation of players that is irreversibly enhanced by lifting the Champions League. This is also true of managers. Klopp will join Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez as an Anfield immortal if he succeeds. To join the elite ranks of ‘super-coaches’ he must add the European Cup to his CV. There has been a prolonged build-up this game. The players and manager will be sick of talking about it. If they win, everything changes. They will be talking about it for forever. My hope is those players will need only state a single word to start the conversation.
The Champions League changed my life - it can do the same for this Liverpool team
I need only talk about the venue and the memories come pouring back. Istanbul. Say the word at Anfield and that is enough. It is the same for Paris and Rome. To some they conjure images of landmarks from Europe’s greatest cities. For Liverpool supporters these locations are inseparable from the pictures of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard lifting the European Cup. I played 737 games for Liverpool. No matter where I go, supporters ask about one. My career – and that of each of my teammates on that glorious evening in the Ataturk Stadium - is defined by victory over AC Milan in 2005. Everything I aspired to be as a footballer was geared towards preparing me for that moment. Everything I aspired to after was about maintaining the standard that helped achieve that ambition. The reputation of those of us who won that night is bonded for eternity. Many years ago I watched a documentary about the British and Irish Lions touring South Africa in 1997. Sir Ian McGeechan was speaking to his squad before the second Test, and the words he delivered resonate when I think of the Champions League final. Carragher (L) celebrates Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 Credit: Getty Images “There are days like this. Many players never have it,” he said. “It is special. These are the days you never believe will come again. As you meet each other in the street in 30 years time, there will just be a look. No words. Just a look. You’ll know how special some days in your lives are.” It sounded like he was quoting my favourite Beatles song: "There are places I remember all my life. I know I'll often stop and think about them." My Liverpool teammates from 2005 came to understand ‘the look’ as McGeechan described it. We understand the uniqueness of the experience that ties us. Those Liverpool players walking out in Kiev are not just on the threshold of legendary status – which is so valuable to the club and their careers - but forming that same connection which they will cherish beyond their playing days. Win, and they will have books written, documentaries produced and museum exhibitions curated. They will enjoy reunions celebrating their triumph, and the performances against Porto, Manchester City and Roma that took them there. It may sound a cliché, but it is true. Lives will change. The current Liverpool team is on the cusp of greatness Credit: Getty Images Lose, and the memories fade, as they did after I lost the final in Athens in 2007. We beat Barcelona and Chelsea that year. No-one ever mentions it. Athens is just a place to go and visit the Parthenon. Whatever the result in Kiev, I can recall from my own experience what will be said on Sunday morning. “This is just the start. We must build on this,” is the message of the winners. “We can’t forget what we achieved to get here. We will recover and try again,” is the consoling wisdom for those defeated. These will be words devoid of meaning. Forget the past. Ignore the consequences for the future. This is it. Here and now. It is not about starting a new era for those players, or continuing a ‘five-year plan’. Win the European Cup and the world holds you in a higher regard. It cannot and will not get any better than the feeling of holding that beautiful trophy for the first time. You are elevated to global status. My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level. Everything changed for Liverpool's players after the 'Miracle of Istanbul' Credit: Getty Images I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career - where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final. I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me. Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did. The nature of our victory led many to say it was a fluke, but in subsequent years key members of that side – Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and myself – played in another final, semi-final and quarter-final. The game itself was freakish, but the standard of our performance to win was not. We became better players, and a much-improved team after 2005. The Liverpool side that lost to AC Milan in 2007 was superior to that which won the competition, but we never experienced the emotion of Istanbul again. The four years between 2005 and 2009 were my most consistent as a footballer, in part because of the belief I took from winning the Champions League, but also because having seen my reputation soar in Europe I was even more determined not to let it slip. I do not like the word ‘arrogant’ but when you hear managers talk about this in a football sense, this is what they mean – knowing you have played well under the greatest pressure and you will do so again. This is why players will often tell you winning that first trophy breeds more success. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool There will be players in Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room today going through a similar transformation.If you interviewed Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dejan Lovren a year ago, and asked if they regarded themselves as peers of Real Madrid, what would the reaction be? A humble response, I would bet. Yes, they would have spoken of their ambitions and belief in their ability, but getting to the level of the two-time Champions League winners at the end of this season? They would have cautioned about expecting too much, too soon. Any other response would have been mocked. Look where Liverpool have recruited some of their players: Hull, Sunderland, Southampton and Mainz. They must have doubted they would ever play in such a fixture. What will those Liverpool players say if they win this game? They will want more of the same and demand more from themselves. My fear is they are facing a side well-established on this pedestal, with the greatest understanding of how to win at all costs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are ‘beasts’ of the modern game, in the best sense of the word. I have confidence the Liverpool players will perform because they have already done so under the highest pressure. Player-for-player, this Liverpool team is better than that which won in Istanbul. It has fewer weaknesses. Yet I maintain the true star of this Liverpool team is the manager. Like his players, Klopp will be consumed by getting over the line. He has been there before and suffered. This is his third European final. Liverpool are in their fifth in 17 years. Some clubs and managers never experience one, but winning isn’t everything - it is the only thing. It is not only the reputation of players that is irreversibly enhanced by lifting the Champions League. This is also true of managers. Klopp will join Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez as an Anfield immortal if he succeeds. To join the elite ranks of ‘super-coaches’ he must add the European Cup to his CV. There has been a prolonged build-up this game. The players and manager will be sick of talking about it. If they win, everything changes. They will be talking about it for forever. My hope is those players will need only state a single word to start the conversation.
I need only talk about the venue and the memories come pouring back. Istanbul. Say the word at Anfield and that is enough. It is the same for Paris and Rome. To some they conjure images of landmarks from Europe’s greatest cities. For Liverpool supporters these locations are inseparable from the pictures of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard lifting the European Cup. I played 737 games for Liverpool. No matter where I go, supporters ask about one. My career – and that of each of my teammates on that glorious evening in the Ataturk Stadium - is defined by victory over AC Milan in 2005. Everything I aspired to be as a footballer was geared towards preparing me for that moment. Everything I aspired to after was about maintaining the standard that helped achieve that ambition. The reputation of those of us who won that night is bonded for eternity. Many years ago I watched a documentary about the British and Irish Lions touring South Africa in 1997. Sir Ian McGeechan was speaking to his squad before the second Test, and the words he delivered resonate when I think of the Champions League final. Carragher (L) celebrates Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 Credit: Getty Images “There are days like this. Many players never have it,” he said. “It is special. These are the days you never believe will come again. As you meet each other in the street in 30 years time, there will just be a look. No words. Just a look. You’ll know how special some days in your lives are.” It sounded like he was quoting my favourite Beatles song: "There are places I remember all my life. I know I'll often stop and think about them." My Liverpool teammates from 2005 came to understand ‘the look’ as McGeechan described it. We understand the uniqueness of the experience that ties us. Those Liverpool players walking out in Kiev are not just on the threshold of legendary status – which is so valuable to the club and their careers - but forming that same connection which they will cherish beyond their playing days. Win, and they will have books written, documentaries produced and museum exhibitions curated. They will enjoy reunions celebrating their triumph, and the performances against Porto, Manchester City and Roma that took them there. It may sound a cliché, but it is true. Lives will change. The current Liverpool team is on the cusp of greatness Credit: Getty Images Lose, and the memories fade, as they did after I lost the final in Athens in 2007. We beat Barcelona and Chelsea that year. No-one ever mentions it. Athens is just a place to go and visit the Parthenon. Whatever the result in Kiev, I can recall from my own experience what will be said on Sunday morning. “This is just the start. We must build on this,” is the message of the winners. “We can’t forget what we achieved to get here. We will recover and try again,” is the consoling wisdom for those defeated. These will be words devoid of meaning. Forget the past. Ignore the consequences for the future. This is it. Here and now. It is not about starting a new era for those players, or continuing a ‘five-year plan’. Win the European Cup and the world holds you in a higher regard. It cannot and will not get any better than the feeling of holding that beautiful trophy for the first time. You are elevated to global status. My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level. Everything changed for Liverpool's players after the 'Miracle of Istanbul' Credit: Getty Images I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career - where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final. I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me. Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did. The nature of our victory led many to say it was a fluke, but in subsequent years key members of that side – Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and myself – played in another final, semi-final and quarter-final. The game itself was freakish, but the standard of our performance to win was not. We became better players, and a much-improved team after 2005. The Liverpool side that lost to AC Milan in 2007 was superior to that which won the competition, but we never experienced the emotion of Istanbul again. The four years between 2005 and 2009 were my most consistent as a footballer, in part because of the belief I took from winning the Champions League, but also because having seen my reputation soar in Europe I was even more determined not to let it slip. I do not like the word ‘arrogant’ but when you hear managers talk about this in a football sense, this is what they mean – knowing you have played well under the greatest pressure and you will do so again. This is why players will often tell you winning that first trophy breeds more success. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool There will be players in Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room today going through a similar transformation.If you interviewed Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dejan Lovren a year ago, and asked if they regarded themselves as peers of Real Madrid, what would the reaction be? A humble response, I would bet. Yes, they would have spoken of their ambitions and belief in their ability, but getting to the level of the two-time Champions League winners at the end of this season? They would have cautioned about expecting too much, too soon. Any other response would have been mocked. Look where Liverpool have recruited some of their players: Hull, Sunderland, Southampton and Mainz. They must have doubted they would ever play in such a fixture. What will those Liverpool players say if they win this game? They will want more of the same and demand more from themselves. My fear is they are facing a side well-established on this pedestal, with the greatest understanding of how to win at all costs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are ‘beasts’ of the modern game, in the best sense of the word. I have confidence the Liverpool players will perform because they have already done so under the highest pressure. Player-for-player, this Liverpool team is better than that which won in Istanbul. It has fewer weaknesses. Yet I maintain the true star of this Liverpool team is the manager. Like his players, Klopp will be consumed by getting over the line. He has been there before and suffered. This is his third European final. Liverpool are in their fifth in 17 years. Some clubs and managers never experience one, but winning isn’t everything - it is the only thing. It is not only the reputation of players that is irreversibly enhanced by lifting the Champions League. This is also true of managers. Klopp will join Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez as an Anfield immortal if he succeeds. To join the elite ranks of ‘super-coaches’ he must add the European Cup to his CV. There has been a prolonged build-up this game. The players and manager will be sick of talking about it. If they win, everything changes. They will be talking about it for forever. My hope is those players will need only state a single word to start the conversation.
The Champions League changed my life - it can do the same for this Liverpool team
I need only talk about the venue and the memories come pouring back. Istanbul. Say the word at Anfield and that is enough. It is the same for Paris and Rome. To some they conjure images of landmarks from Europe’s greatest cities. For Liverpool supporters these locations are inseparable from the pictures of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard lifting the European Cup. I played 737 games for Liverpool. No matter where I go, supporters ask about one. My career – and that of each of my teammates on that glorious evening in the Ataturk Stadium - is defined by victory over AC Milan in 2005. Everything I aspired to be as a footballer was geared towards preparing me for that moment. Everything I aspired to after was about maintaining the standard that helped achieve that ambition. The reputation of those of us who won that night is bonded for eternity. Many years ago I watched a documentary about the British and Irish Lions touring South Africa in 1997. Sir Ian McGeechan was speaking to his squad before the second Test, and the words he delivered resonate when I think of the Champions League final. Carragher (L) celebrates Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 Credit: Getty Images “There are days like this. Many players never have it,” he said. “It is special. These are the days you never believe will come again. As you meet each other in the street in 30 years time, there will just be a look. No words. Just a look. You’ll know how special some days in your lives are.” It sounded like he was quoting my favourite Beatles song: "There are places I remember all my life. I know I'll often stop and think about them." My Liverpool teammates from 2005 came to understand ‘the look’ as McGeechan described it. We understand the uniqueness of the experience that ties us. Those Liverpool players walking out in Kiev are not just on the threshold of legendary status – which is so valuable to the club and their careers - but forming that same connection which they will cherish beyond their playing days. Win, and they will have books written, documentaries produced and museum exhibitions curated. They will enjoy reunions celebrating their triumph, and the performances against Porto, Manchester City and Roma that took them there. It may sound a cliché, but it is true. Lives will change. The current Liverpool team is on the cusp of greatness Credit: Getty Images Lose, and the memories fade, as they did after I lost the final in Athens in 2007. We beat Barcelona and Chelsea that year. No-one ever mentions it. Athens is just a place to go and visit the Parthenon. Whatever the result in Kiev, I can recall from my own experience what will be said on Sunday morning. “This is just the start. We must build on this,” is the message of the winners. “We can’t forget what we achieved to get here. We will recover and try again,” is the consoling wisdom for those defeated. These will be words devoid of meaning. Forget the past. Ignore the consequences for the future. This is it. Here and now. It is not about starting a new era for those players, or continuing a ‘five-year plan’. Win the European Cup and the world holds you in a higher regard. It cannot and will not get any better than the feeling of holding that beautiful trophy for the first time. You are elevated to global status. My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level. Everything changed for Liverpool's players after the 'Miracle of Istanbul' Credit: Getty Images I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career - where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final. I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me. Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did. The nature of our victory led many to say it was a fluke, but in subsequent years key members of that side – Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and myself – played in another final, semi-final and quarter-final. The game itself was freakish, but the standard of our performance to win was not. We became better players, and a much-improved team after 2005. The Liverpool side that lost to AC Milan in 2007 was superior to that which won the competition, but we never experienced the emotion of Istanbul again. The four years between 2005 and 2009 were my most consistent as a footballer, in part because of the belief I took from winning the Champions League, but also because having seen my reputation soar in Europe I was even more determined not to let it slip. I do not like the word ‘arrogant’ but when you hear managers talk about this in a football sense, this is what they mean – knowing you have played well under the greatest pressure and you will do so again. This is why players will often tell you winning that first trophy breeds more success. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool There will be players in Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room today going through a similar transformation.If you interviewed Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dejan Lovren a year ago, and asked if they regarded themselves as peers of Real Madrid, what would the reaction be? A humble response, I would bet. Yes, they would have spoken of their ambitions and belief in their ability, but getting to the level of the two-time Champions League winners at the end of this season? They would have cautioned about expecting too much, too soon. Any other response would have been mocked. Look where Liverpool have recruited some of their players: Hull, Sunderland, Southampton and Mainz. They must have doubted they would ever play in such a fixture. What will those Liverpool players say if they win this game? They will want more of the same and demand more from themselves. My fear is they are facing a side well-established on this pedestal, with the greatest understanding of how to win at all costs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are ‘beasts’ of the modern game, in the best sense of the word. I have confidence the Liverpool players will perform because they have already done so under the highest pressure. Player-for-player, this Liverpool team is better than that which won in Istanbul. It has fewer weaknesses. Yet I maintain the true star of this Liverpool team is the manager. Like his players, Klopp will be consumed by getting over the line. He has been there before and suffered. This is his third European final. Liverpool are in their fifth in 17 years. Some clubs and managers never experience one, but winning isn’t everything - it is the only thing. It is not only the reputation of players that is irreversibly enhanced by lifting the Champions League. This is also true of managers. Klopp will join Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez as an Anfield immortal if he succeeds. To join the elite ranks of ‘super-coaches’ he must add the European Cup to his CV. There has been a prolonged build-up this game. The players and manager will be sick of talking about it. If they win, everything changes. They will be talking about it for forever. My hope is those players will need only state a single word to start the conversation.
I need only talk about the venue and the memories come pouring back. Istanbul. Say the word at Anfield and that is enough. It is the same for Paris and Rome. To some they conjure images of landmarks from Europe’s greatest cities. For Liverpool supporters these locations are inseparable from the pictures of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard lifting the European Cup. I played 737 games for Liverpool. No matter where I go, supporters ask about one. My career – and that of each of my teammates on that glorious evening in the Ataturk Stadium - is defined by victory over AC Milan in 2005. Everything I aspired to be as a footballer was geared towards preparing me for that moment. Everything I aspired to after was about maintaining the standard that helped achieve that ambition. The reputation of those of us who won that night is bonded for eternity. Many years ago I watched a documentary about the British and Irish Lions touring South Africa in 1997. Sir Ian McGeechan was speaking to his squad before the second Test, and the words he delivered resonate when I think of the Champions League final. Carragher (L) celebrates Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 Credit: Getty Images “There are days like this. Many players never have it,” he said. “It is special. These are the days you never believe will come again. As you meet each other in the street in 30 years time, there will just be a look. No words. Just a look. You’ll know how special some days in your lives are.” It sounded like he was quoting my favourite Beatles song: "There are places I remember all my life. I know I'll often stop and think about them." My Liverpool teammates from 2005 came to understand ‘the look’ as McGeechan described it. We understand the uniqueness of the experience that ties us. Those Liverpool players walking out in Kiev are not just on the threshold of legendary status – which is so valuable to the club and their careers - but forming that same connection which they will cherish beyond their playing days. Win, and they will have books written, documentaries produced and museum exhibitions curated. They will enjoy reunions celebrating their triumph, and the performances against Porto, Manchester City and Roma that took them there. It may sound a cliché, but it is true. Lives will change. The current Liverpool team is on the cusp of greatness Credit: Getty Images Lose, and the memories fade, as they did after I lost the final in Athens in 2007. We beat Barcelona and Chelsea that year. No-one ever mentions it. Athens is just a place to go and visit the Parthenon. Whatever the result in Kiev, I can recall from my own experience what will be said on Sunday morning. “This is just the start. We must build on this,” is the message of the winners. “We can’t forget what we achieved to get here. We will recover and try again,” is the consoling wisdom for those defeated. These will be words devoid of meaning. Forget the past. Ignore the consequences for the future. This is it. Here and now. It is not about starting a new era for those players, or continuing a ‘five-year plan’. Win the European Cup and the world holds you in a higher regard. It cannot and will not get any better than the feeling of holding that beautiful trophy for the first time. You are elevated to global status. My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level. Everything changed for Liverpool's players after the 'Miracle of Istanbul' Credit: Getty Images I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career - where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final. I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me. Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did. The nature of our victory led many to say it was a fluke, but in subsequent years key members of that side – Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and myself – played in another final, semi-final and quarter-final. The game itself was freakish, but the standard of our performance to win was not. We became better players, and a much-improved team after 2005. The Liverpool side that lost to AC Milan in 2007 was superior to that which won the competition, but we never experienced the emotion of Istanbul again. The four years between 2005 and 2009 were my most consistent as a footballer, in part because of the belief I took from winning the Champions League, but also because having seen my reputation soar in Europe I was even more determined not to let it slip. I do not like the word ‘arrogant’ but when you hear managers talk about this in a football sense, this is what they mean – knowing you have played well under the greatest pressure and you will do so again. This is why players will often tell you winning that first trophy breeds more success. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool There will be players in Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room today going through a similar transformation.If you interviewed Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dejan Lovren a year ago, and asked if they regarded themselves as peers of Real Madrid, what would the reaction be? A humble response, I would bet. Yes, they would have spoken of their ambitions and belief in their ability, but getting to the level of the two-time Champions League winners at the end of this season? They would have cautioned about expecting too much, too soon. Any other response would have been mocked. Look where Liverpool have recruited some of their players: Hull, Sunderland, Southampton and Mainz. They must have doubted they would ever play in such a fixture. What will those Liverpool players say if they win this game? They will want more of the same and demand more from themselves. My fear is they are facing a side well-established on this pedestal, with the greatest understanding of how to win at all costs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are ‘beasts’ of the modern game, in the best sense of the word. I have confidence the Liverpool players will perform because they have already done so under the highest pressure. Player-for-player, this Liverpool team is better than that which won in Istanbul. It has fewer weaknesses. Yet I maintain the true star of this Liverpool team is the manager. Like his players, Klopp will be consumed by getting over the line. He has been there before and suffered. This is his third European final. Liverpool are in their fifth in 17 years. Some clubs and managers never experience one, but winning isn’t everything - it is the only thing. It is not only the reputation of players that is irreversibly enhanced by lifting the Champions League. This is also true of managers. Klopp will join Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez as an Anfield immortal if he succeeds. To join the elite ranks of ‘super-coaches’ he must add the European Cup to his CV. There has been a prolonged build-up this game. The players and manager will be sick of talking about it. If they win, everything changes. They will be talking about it for forever. My hope is those players will need only state a single word to start the conversation.
The Champions League changed my life - it can do the same for this Liverpool team
I need only talk about the venue and the memories come pouring back. Istanbul. Say the word at Anfield and that is enough. It is the same for Paris and Rome. To some they conjure images of landmarks from Europe’s greatest cities. For Liverpool supporters these locations are inseparable from the pictures of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard lifting the European Cup. I played 737 games for Liverpool. No matter where I go, supporters ask about one. My career – and that of each of my teammates on that glorious evening in the Ataturk Stadium - is defined by victory over AC Milan in 2005. Everything I aspired to be as a footballer was geared towards preparing me for that moment. Everything I aspired to after was about maintaining the standard that helped achieve that ambition. The reputation of those of us who won that night is bonded for eternity. Many years ago I watched a documentary about the British and Irish Lions touring South Africa in 1997. Sir Ian McGeechan was speaking to his squad before the second Test, and the words he delivered resonate when I think of the Champions League final. Carragher (L) celebrates Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 Credit: Getty Images “There are days like this. Many players never have it,” he said. “It is special. These are the days you never believe will come again. As you meet each other in the street in 30 years time, there will just be a look. No words. Just a look. You’ll know how special some days in your lives are.” It sounded like he was quoting my favourite Beatles song: "There are places I remember all my life. I know I'll often stop and think about them." My Liverpool teammates from 2005 came to understand ‘the look’ as McGeechan described it. We understand the uniqueness of the experience that ties us. Those Liverpool players walking out in Kiev are not just on the threshold of legendary status – which is so valuable to the club and their careers - but forming that same connection which they will cherish beyond their playing days. Win, and they will have books written, documentaries produced and museum exhibitions curated. They will enjoy reunions celebrating their triumph, and the performances against Porto, Manchester City and Roma that took them there. It may sound a cliché, but it is true. Lives will change. The current Liverpool team is on the cusp of greatness Credit: Getty Images Lose, and the memories fade, as they did after I lost the final in Athens in 2007. We beat Barcelona and Chelsea that year. No-one ever mentions it. Athens is just a place to go and visit the Parthenon. Whatever the result in Kiev, I can recall from my own experience what will be said on Sunday morning. “This is just the start. We must build on this,” is the message of the winners. “We can’t forget what we achieved to get here. We will recover and try again,” is the consoling wisdom for those defeated. These will be words devoid of meaning. Forget the past. Ignore the consequences for the future. This is it. Here and now. It is not about starting a new era for those players, or continuing a ‘five-year plan’. Win the European Cup and the world holds you in a higher regard. It cannot and will not get any better than the feeling of holding that beautiful trophy for the first time. You are elevated to global status. My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level. Everything changed for Liverpool's players after the 'Miracle of Istanbul' Credit: Getty Images I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career - where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final. I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me. Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did. The nature of our victory led many to say it was a fluke, but in subsequent years key members of that side – Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and myself – played in another final, semi-final and quarter-final. The game itself was freakish, but the standard of our performance to win was not. We became better players, and a much-improved team after 2005. The Liverpool side that lost to AC Milan in 2007 was superior to that which won the competition, but we never experienced the emotion of Istanbul again. The four years between 2005 and 2009 were my most consistent as a footballer, in part because of the belief I took from winning the Champions League, but also because having seen my reputation soar in Europe I was even more determined not to let it slip. I do not like the word ‘arrogant’ but when you hear managers talk about this in a football sense, this is what they mean – knowing you have played well under the greatest pressure and you will do so again. This is why players will often tell you winning that first trophy breeds more success. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool There will be players in Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room today going through a similar transformation.If you interviewed Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dejan Lovren a year ago, and asked if they regarded themselves as peers of Real Madrid, what would the reaction be? A humble response, I would bet. Yes, they would have spoken of their ambitions and belief in their ability, but getting to the level of the two-time Champions League winners at the end of this season? They would have cautioned about expecting too much, too soon. Any other response would have been mocked. Look where Liverpool have recruited some of their players: Hull, Sunderland, Southampton and Mainz. They must have doubted they would ever play in such a fixture. What will those Liverpool players say if they win this game? They will want more of the same and demand more from themselves. My fear is they are facing a side well-established on this pedestal, with the greatest understanding of how to win at all costs. Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are ‘beasts’ of the modern game, in the best sense of the word. I have confidence the Liverpool players will perform because they have already done so under the highest pressure. Player-for-player, this Liverpool team is better than that which won in Istanbul. It has fewer weaknesses. Yet I maintain the true star of this Liverpool team is the manager. Like his players, Klopp will be consumed by getting over the line. He has been there before and suffered. This is his third European final. Liverpool are in their fifth in 17 years. Some clubs and managers never experience one, but winning isn’t everything - it is the only thing. It is not only the reputation of players that is irreversibly enhanced by lifting the Champions League. This is also true of managers. Klopp will join Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez as an Anfield immortal if he succeeds. To join the elite ranks of ‘super-coaches’ he must add the European Cup to his CV. There has been a prolonged build-up this game. The players and manager will be sick of talking about it. If they win, everything changes. They will be talking about it for forever. My hope is those players will need only state a single word to start the conversation.
Real Madrid and Liverpool gear up for a mega finale of the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League to be held in Kiev. Real overcame Bayern Munich in the semis as the Reds saw off a gritty AS Roma outfit. With plenty at stake for both clubs, it would be a crunch battle. Here is the pre-match report in numbers.
UEFA Champions League final- The numbers game
Real Madrid and Liverpool gear up for a mega finale of the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League to be held in Kiev. Real overcame Bayern Munich in the semis as the Reds saw off a gritty AS Roma outfit. With plenty at stake for both clubs, it would be a crunch battle. Here is the pre-match report in numbers.
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's position for Real Madrid in attacking phases of play Marcelo's delivery from wide areas and link-up play are excellent but the inevitable consequence of taking risks in these advanced areas means if Real Madrid lose the ball, they are in a spot of trouble. Against Liverpool's rapid attack, make that double. And if you include Mo Salah... even worse. An interception, tackle or recovery then a ball over the top could put Liverpool's front three away and with space to attack a Real Madrid defence desperately trying to get back into shape. Real Madrid gif 2 Here's an example of this exact scenario from Bayern Munich's opening goal in the first leg of the semi-final. The Allianz erupts! Joshua Kimmich hammers Bayern into the lead! �� What an assist from James Rodriguez �� pic.twitter.com/DyoD0oYl2U— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 25, 2018 It isn't as if Real aren't aware of the possibility but Marcelo is so good in attack that it makes sense to allow him forward. Midfielders must cover the space he leaves. Strikers vs Dejan Lovren Virgil van Dijk has been a brilliant signing for Liverpool and commands the area, bringing confidence to a sometimes ropey looking back four. He's especially adept in the air but Real Madrid will know there is gold to be found by putting high balls into the box - Lorius Karius doesn't inspire confidence and Dejan Lovren even occasionally misreads the flight of the ball. Here he is completely missing a header to give Harry Kane a free run on goal, as a high profile example. Roma's first goal in the semi-final first leg is worryingly similar. A pass from Radja Nainggolan is aimed towards Edin Dzeko's run. Van Dijk steps up, Lovren covers - for a high ball over the top, this doesn't really make defensive sense. Andy Robertson should be the defensive line guide that Lovren relies on but, scared by Dzeko's presence, he's broken the offside trap. Alexander-Arnold sprints back to help out. Dzeko is played onside, Lovren misjudges the flight of the ball completely. Dzeko scores. Real put in a lot of crosses too and have scored 20 goals from set pieces this season. Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale are all excellent in the air and the slightest of hesitation from a centre-back could be crucial. Van Dijk will likely be tasked with taking care of Ronaldo but if Zidane does go with a three striker system, that leaves Lovren to contend with Bale. The end of an era If Liverpool win, it will be considered the end of an era for this Real Madrid side, a team who should be considered up there with the very best. Winning the Champions League twice in a row is an incredible feat and it should not be forgotten that despite domestic disappointment they are a frightening opponent. Real have some of the best individual players in the world in each position and although Zidane has done well to find the balance, and without taking away from his achievements - which could not have been done by any other human at the time - his best trick as manager was to command the dressing room, give them a sensible structure and then let the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos and Modric lead the way. They will be as prepared and motivated as Liverpool can hope to be but all of that could be for nothing if Salah finds a tiny bit of space and produces magic, Mane breaks the offside trap and the rest of the supporting cast presses Real into making nervous early mistakes, like rapid water breaking through a dam. This game really could go either way but in finals, the team who makes the fewest mistakes is the one who usually wins. Real Madrid are nothing if not professional, experienced and confident and though it is not normal for a team to reach the Champions League final three years in a row, with the standards that Zidane and Ronaldo have set, anything less than victory seems unthinkable. If there were one team they would have hoped to avoid at this final stage though, it would almost certainly be Klopp's Liverpool. How to watch tomorrow's Champions League final on TV
How Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in Champions League Final: The tactics Jurgen Klopp must employ to take down Ronaldo & Co
The Chaaaaampions! And as the rousing Champions League theme peaks and dissipates, the Liverpool and Real Madrid players will hear only the roar of the crowd and the sound of their own thumping hearts. This is the big game. Real Madrid have experience of it - amazing, recent experience - after winning their previous two finals. It's experience and class vs explosive attack and momentum. How should Liverpool approach the game? Jurgen Klopp's record in finals isn't great but even having lost his last five in a row, it's unthinkable he'd revert from the 4-3-3, high-pressing, relentlessly attacking football that has taken Liverpool to Kiev. Real Madrid have been shaky this season and a little unsure of themselves, but there remains a constant - this is Real Madrid. What does Klopp do? Let's take a look. How the teams will line up Liverpool will almost certainly set up in a 4-3-3, employ a high press and close down Real Madrid to force a mistake and look to capitalise on it. It works against everyone. The Gegenpress will be on full display and if they get it right, this group of players could quickly unsettle and destroy a defence which has regularly been breached by relative La Liga minnows over the course of the season. The three strikers will take up central attacking positions and width will be provided by Andrew Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, with one of the three central midfielders breaking forward to join attacks while the other two keep the balance. Real Madrid's usual Champions League setup is a 4-4-2 diamond, the same that Zinedine Zidane's managerial mentor Carlo Ancelotti likes most and - coincidentally - the same that Liverpool overcame in that win in Istanbul. Zidane's 4-4-2 diamond formation, the tactical setup which has liberated Isco This formation does a few things for Real. First of all, it gets the most possible out of Isco in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. He does not tend to do much defensively and by having freedom to move around the pitch he ends up everywhere, linking passes and bringing others into the game, as well as popping up in space near the opponent's box to play a final pass or score himself. It also allows Cristiano Ronaldo to start as a central striker and move out to the channels if he wants to, as opposed to starting as a wide player and having to move inside. Thus, he becomes a focal point for attacks and spends his time trying to get on the end of things rather than help construct the build-up play. However, Zidane will be nervous about the threat Liverpool pose on the counter-attack and could well decide to opt for a familiar looking 4-3-3, employ a deep defensive line and look to attack on the counter with a bit more of a safety net. Zidane's 4-3-3 at Real Madrid. This relies on Bale and Ronaldo defending their respective flanks, something they tend not to do. Ronaldo has developed into more of a central striker too, meaning the left wing especially is unprotected in defensive phases of play. The other massive advantage of setting up like this is that Gareth Bale can play. Capable of scoring out of nowhere, his aerial threat, especially combined with Ronaldo's on the left, could be the undoing of Liverpool's defence, who are still vulnerable from set pieces. Liverpool must utilise their quick counter-attacks The key to Liverpool beating this Real Madrid team is attacking with that same energy, momentum and ferocity that battered Man City and Roma. Nerves could hinder certain players, but if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are ready to pounce and the ball is delivered to them quickly, few teams can cope with the fluid movement and creative whirlwind that comes their way. Their opening goal in the first leg against Man City is a perfect example of what this team is capable of. Anfield erupts! ��⚪️ Mo Salah nets in front of the Kop and it's first blood to Liverpool! �� pic.twitter.com/0oIczhhgE2— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 A set piece is won in the air by the defence and as soon as possession is turned over, Liverpool sprint to get into their attacking shape. James Milner spots the forward run and immediately plays a direct forward pass. Man City have to race back to deal with the danger, with their centre-backs left high up the pitch. Salah moves inside, Firmino takes the ball into the box and forces a shot, the deflection of which lands with Salah. He stays cool and finishes. By leaving Salah and Firmino high up the pitch like this, Liverpool are able to break rapidly - it's defending by attacking, forcing teams to send fewer forwards up the pitch for fear of what might happen at the other end. Real Madrid will have a lot of the ball and will certainly attack and create chances to score, but the way they play leaves them open to counter-attacks. Liverpool must get the balance right but it is surely worth taking the risk of having those quick forwards in advanced positions even when having to defend against waves of pressure. Vertical play (or 'get the ball up the pitch, stupid!') Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can control a game with the ball but aren't particularly intimidating defensively. Liverpool click into attack mode as soon as they have the chance to do so and where some teams like to pass the ball to feet and work their way up the pitch in control of possession, Liverpool run. It's vertical play as opposed to horizontal sideways passing, and is a key component of Klopp's style of play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a huge loss for the final. His ability to break the lines of defence with a burst of pace helps the team play at that high-tempo, revving to full speed from a near-standing start at times. WHAT. A. HIT! �� Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with an absolute screamer! Liverpool 2-0 Man City �� pic.twitter.com/W21fO3v9lc— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain's relentlessly energetic chasing of the ball in midfield is something else the team will miss and while Georginio Wijnaldum is excellent at the attacking part of this role, he doesn't offer quite as much in his all-round game. Liverpool's second goal in the 2-1 second leg win over City is the kind of thing they'll need to do again. Wijnaldum has the ball, Milner is the obvious option. City shift over to block the passing lane... but Wijnaldum is using him as a decoy. He stops and instead plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the ball on, sprints beyond the midfield line and has runners ahead of him. The next ball is a superb pass played between the centre-backs, ahead of Salah's run. Oxlade-Chamberlain threads a pass ahead of Salah Mane sprints onto Salah's pass, ends up going past Nicolas Otamendi and down in the box after this, and Salah dinks the ball over the goalkeeper from the resulting rammy in the box. Wijnaldum must put a real shift in to replicate Oxlade-Chamberlain's role against Real Madrid, and ensure he looks forward to constantly put Liverpool on the front foot. Real Madrid's defence must not be allowed to get back into shape before Liverpool are in their final third. This is the most likely way Klopp's team will score. Runs in behind Zidane is no fool and will drill into his players the need to watch for runners in behind the defence, another reason he may well go with a deep defensive line (Roma's suicidal high line caused their undoing), in a 4-3-3. Even the best players can suffer lapses in concentration and Real Madrid were guilty of this in their final La Liga game of the season, drawing 2-2 with Villarreal having led 2-0. The first goal was a brilliant finish from inside the box by Roger Martinez but the second was entirely avoidable, and something we've seen too often during the season. Rodri Hernandez is allowed time in front of the Real Madrid midfield. Real are in a 4-4-2 shape, which you can't really see above, and Bale at left wing has spotted that Samu Castillejo is making a forward run. Rather than track him, Bale points it out to a teammate. Raphael Varane points out a forward wandering between the lines instead of stepping up to get tight too. It's poor defensive organisation - players seeing things without actually doing anything about it. Castillejo rounds the goalkeeper to score Castillejo runs in behind and controls the chipped pass with one touch, goes around the goalkeeper and scores. The most basic of balls over the top confuses the back four and the game ends in a draw. Firmino, Salah and Mane are superb at making these sorts of forward runs in behind. How to take advantage of Marcelo Marcelo is considered one of the best left-backs in the world, which is both correct and odd since he spends the majority of games as a left winger. A naturally skilful, technical player, Marcelo creates and provides a genuine threat on the left of Real Madrid's attack. "Madrid have no weakness", Klopp said in a recent interview. "Football is not that easy that you say Marcelo stays upfront and Salah stays there and plays against Ramos - that's not how football works". But it can be done! Marcelo regularly takes up the wide left forward's po