Liverpool’s season will be a disappointment if they lose to Real Madrid
Fans have inertially called Liverpool the favorite for the final match, but those who are wiser have refrained from making predictions against Real Madrid, who have already been escorted out of the Champions League three times before clashes with PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City. However, the white magic of Ancelotti and Karim Benzema propelled Madrid into the final.
This is Real Madrid’s fifth final in eight years. Of course, I would not say that for the Madrid side it is an ordinary event, especially since the last time they played in the decisive match of the Champions League four years ago and have had time to miss it, for the first time in 20 years they reached the final without the direct participation of Zidane and Ronaldo, the recognized ambassadors of the tournament. Still, Real Madrid have the habit of playing and winning in such matches, and you can’t take the words out of their mouths.
Ancelotti does not deceive himself when he says that there is less pressure now than in 2014. Firstly, back then we were going after the long-awaited Desima and had no right to make a mistake. Second, there wasn’t that much team experience. Thirdly, no one was betting on Real and demanded to win the Champions League, this season was supposed to be a transitional one. Fourthly, winning the Spanish championship and the Super Cup is already a lot. Even with a loss to Liverpool, it would be a successful campaign for Madrid.
Maximum pressure on Liverpool. The result of the final will determine the evaluation of the whole season
The Reds have a different situation, the result of the Champions League final separates Liverpool from Luzernpool (or Neverpool, if that sounds better) in the 2021/22 season. It’s not about evaluating the coaching staff and team, there are about zero complaints and plenty of compliments for them. But in the history will remain the titles, and Jurgen Klopp’s team has exactly two of them so far – the FA Cup and the English League Cup.
You have to agree that two local cups will look like a consolation prize against the background of missed victories in the APL and the Champions League. In the last round of the championship, Steven Gerrard slipped again, only this time under someone else’s feet. “City” made a vigorous comeback in the game against Aston Villa and deprived Liverpool of the hopes of the first place, and with it the opportunity to make this season the greatest in the history of the club. The Quadruple doesn’t add up in any way.
But it is still possible to assemble a kind of treble of cup victories, success in the Champions League will write this season in gold letters in the annals of Liverpool, but without victory in Saint Denis the bitterness of the lost titles will outweigh the joy of the victories gained. Jurgen Klopp’s men could become the most successful team of the European season at the end of the final in Paris, or they could acquire the status of kings among the underdogs by missing out on two major titles.
The climax will happen in the 63rd match of the season for Liverpool
Along with the worries about the excessive pressure on the Reds, there’s a more pressing question: will they have enough strength? The final in Paris will be Liverpool’s 63rd game of the season, while for Real Madrid it will be their 56th. In addition, since May 4 (the day of the victory over City in the return semi-final), the “Slivos” purposefully prepared for the final of the Champions League, because the championship in La Liga has been formalized ahead of schedule. Pintus held a mini training camp, Ancelotti chose the squad for the matches of the last rounds depending on the physical condition of the players, their need for game energy.
Liverpool played five super-tense games over a similar period – the final four rounds of the Premier League and the FA Cup final. Jurgen Klopp’s team has nine grueling months of soccer marathon behind them, with a surge in May that did not culminate in an APL victory. Klopp often talks about the excessive strain of the English calendar, and in the event of a loss in the final, he will surely mention that factor. The opponent is objectively fresher, while Liverpool will play their 16th match in 56 days, and in fact Jordan Henderson, even after the victory over Wolverhampton in the last round of the Premier League, tiredly said:
We gave absolutely everything.
It is not in Liverpool’s interest to drag out the final. “The Reds need to win in 90 minutes
In addition to the above, it is worth recalling that the teams played in the championships with different numbers of substitutions allowed: Ancelotti in the 38 tours of La Liga could change five men per game, while Klopp in the same 38 rounds of the APL had only three substitutions. Liverpool’s accumulated fatigue is definitely greater, and that could play a crucial role in the final. Like it or not, the teams are in unequal conditions before the Champions League final because of the internal rules of their leagues and because of the way they did in other tournaments. However, this is absolutely normal.
And we are talking about a team that has lost only 3 out of the previous 62 matches of the season, in each case losing by one goal (West Ham, Leicester and Inter). “Liverpool has already broken club records for the number of goals scored in a season (147) and victories (46). Jurgen Klopp has actively struggled with a tight schedule, using rotation: 36 players appeared in the Reds’ jersey for official matches, with a total of 113 changes to the starting line-up in the Premier League (only Chelsea have more – 129). Virgil van Dijk was the only field player to play more than 80% of the playing time (82%).
But even with so much care in keeping key players fresh, the final will be a serious test of will and endurance for Liverpool. Parallels can be drawn between this Champions League final and the final of the 2018/19 season. Back then, Liverpool were also one point behind City in the APL, but delighted the fans with an international victory. Except that the opponents were another English club, Tottenham, and after Salah’s super-quick goal from the penalty spot, the game slipped into a clinch and hung on the ropes time and time again.
Potentially successful scenarios for Liverpool in today’s final also involve a quick or at least the first goal, but Real Madrid, unlike Tottenham, will not hesitate to respond even if they lose the lead as the game progresses (which is very likely). Ancelotti’s team has been rebounding in all previous stages of the playoffs. “Liverpool needs a plan to win within 90 minutes, because extra time is Madrid’s territory because of their freshness and ability to mobilize their best qualities in critical moments.