Real Madrid Narrowly Beat Leipzig In Champions League Clash

Real Madrid’s players celebrate at the end of the UEFA Champions League, Group F, first leg football match between Real Madrid and RB Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 14, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Late strikes from Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio’s allowed Real Madrid to maintain their 100 per cent start to the Champions League campaign with a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig.

It threatened to be a frustrating night for the record 14-time winners and reigning champions until Valverde finally provided the breakthrough, continuing his fine recent form and celebrating emphatically in front of a relieved Santiago Bernabeu after netting in the 80th minute.

Substitute Asensio then slammed home the second in stoppage time after Toni Kroos pulled a short free-kick back to the edge of the box. That wrapped up the win and kept Madrid top of Group F on six points, ahead of Shakhtar Donestsk on four.

Leipzig had tested Thibaut Courtois early on when Christopher Nkunku broke down the right flank and squeezed off a shot from a tight angle. At the other end Rodrygo dragged a strike wide of the near post.

The Brazilian forward, playing as a false nine in the absence of injured talisman Karim Benzema, was chosen over Eden Hazard and Asensio for the role after impressing against Real Mallorca last weekend in La Liga.

There were half-chances at both ends for Timo Werner and Eduardo Camavinga, before the best opportunity of the first half fell to Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger, who steered a header well wide of goal from a dangerous position in the box.

Luka Modric tumbled under heavy pressure in the area shortly before the break but his appeals were waved away, to the chagrin of Madrid’s increasingly frustrated fans.

After netting 16 goals in their last five games, home supporters expected more creativity and coach Carlo Ancelotti took action by sending on Asensio for midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

The forward was whistled by some sectors of the Bernabeu after he had shown his frustration at not being given more game time this season on the side of the pitch during the win over Mallorca.

The hosts’ angst grew when Vinicius, the scorer of last season’s Champions League final winning goal against Liverpool, was denied by Peter Gulasci from close range after Valverde had barrelled into the area in typically intense fashion.

Madrid broke the deadlock when Uruguayan midfielder Valverde, deployed on the right of the attack to great effect, cut inside and curled home with his weaker left foot.

It was his third goal in six games, following strikes against Celta Vigo and Mallorca, with the 24-year-old continuing to show why he is preferred in the position.

Asensio also staked his claim with his late contribution to offer Ancelotti and his detractors in the stands food for thought.

Man Utd Agree To Sign Real Madrid Midfielder Casemiro

Real Madrid's Brazilian midfielder Casemiro celebrates with the trophy after the UEFA Super Cup football match between Real Madrid vs Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki, on August 10, 2022. Real Madrid won the match 2-0. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)
Real Madrid’s Brazilian midfielder Casemiro celebrates with the trophy after the UEFA Super Cup football match between Real Madrid vs Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki, on August 10, 2022. Real Madrid won the match 2-0. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Manchester United said on Friday they have agreed to sign Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro in a deal worth up to a reported £60 million ($70 million).

United manager Erik ten Hag has been desperate to land a defensive midfielder since taking charge at Old Trafford and has finally settled for Casemiro after failing to sign Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong.

Troubled United, who sit bottom of the Premier League after embarrassing defeats against Brighton and Brentford, are set to pay an initial £50 million.

The overall fee would rise by another £10 million if certain clauses in the contract are met.

Casemiro has been offered a four-year contract with the option of a further 12-month extension, with the transfer subject to the agreement of personal terms.

The 30-year-old joined Real from Sao Paulo in 2013 and has been a key figure in midfield for the Spanish club, winning five Champions League titles.

“Manchester United is delighted to announce that the club has reached agreement with Real Madrid for the transfer of Casemiro,” a statement from United said.

“The transfer is subject to the agreement of personal terms, UK visa requirements and a medical.”

Ten Hag refused to discuss the transfer at his press conference earlier on Friday, but Real boss Carlo Ancelotti was more forthcoming when speaking to the media in Spain.

“I’ve discussed it with him this morning. He wants to try a new challenge, a new opportunity,” Ancelotti said.

“The club understand it. With all he’s done for this club and the person he is, we have to respect it.

“If he doesn’t stay, we’ll have an enormous sense of gratitude to him for all he’s done. We have replacements within the squad.”

Real Madrid said they will hold a “tribute and farewell” to Casemiro on Monday which will be attended by the club’s president, Florentino Perez.

In a statement, the Spanish giants called him “one of the most transcendental players in one of the most significant and successful periods in our history.”

“Real Madrid are and always will be his home, and we wish him and all his family the best of luck in this new chapter of his life,” it added.

Casemiro played alongside current United stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane in the Spanish capital.

His arrival will fill a void in Ten Hag’s midfield after his prolonged pursuit of De Jong ended in failure.

Casemiro’s wealth of experience and success at the highest level will make him a certain starter instead of either Fred or Scott McTominay in central midfield.

He is unlikely to be available for United’s next match against arch rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Monday.

Instead, Casemiro’s debut could come at Southampton in the Premier League on August 27.

Ronaldo Blasts ‘Lies’ Over Man Utd Future

Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo (L) reacts after conceding their first goal during the English Premier League football match between Brentford and Manchester United at Brentford Community Stadium in London on August 13, 2022. (Photo by Ian Kington / AFP)

 

 

Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at the “lies” surrounding reports about his future at Manchester United.

The Portugal forward missed United’s pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia due to personal reasons as speculation swirled over whether he would be leaving Old Trafford.

It has been reported Ronaldo wants to play Champions League football, but United maintains the 37-year-old is not for sale and remains an integral part of the plans of new boss Erik ten Hag.

The former Real Madrid star played the full 90 minutes of United’s 4-0 defeat at Brentford on Saturday, which left them bottom of the Premier League.

In a reply to a fan account on Instagram that referred to a report linking the United frontman to Atletico Madrid, Ronaldo said fans would “know the truth” in a couple of weeks, adding: “The media is telling lies.”

“I have a notebook and in the last few months of the 100 news I made, only five were right. Imagine how it is. Stick with that tip.”

Manchester United will seek to kickstart their Premier League campaign when they host fierce rivals, Liverpool, on Monday.

United’s owners, the Glazer family, have come under fire following the team’s terrible start.

Former United defender Gary Neville has warned the club could finish in the bottom half of the Premier League if they do not address their “horror story” recruitment strategy.

Manchester United supporters’ group ‘The 1958’ is planning a protest march outside Old Trafford against the club’s owners ahead of the Liverpool match.

In a statement, the group said the ownership was “systematically starving and killing the greatest football institution in world football, for greed”.

“We appreciate emotions are running high,” it added. “We must keep it legal, we must keep it peaceful…. Bring the heat, bring the noise, bring the passion. Let’s show the Glazer family that this time it will not blow over.”

Billionaire Elon Musk sparked a social media frenzy on Tuesday evening when he raised the prospect of buying United from the Glazer family.

The Tesla CEO made the comment in a tweet, then later clarified his position by saying he had no intention of buying a sports team and that it had been a “long-running joke”.

Real Madrid Beat Eintracht Frankfurt To Win UEFA Super Cup

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema (2nd L) celebrates scoring the 2-0 goal with his team-mates during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Real Madrid vs Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki, on August 10, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and a fifth UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.

While Frankfurt were dangerous, particularly in the first half, Madrid’s experience and individual quality saw them through, as it did so often in their victorious 2021-22 Champions League campaign.

Frankfurt had the best of the early stages, with Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois forced into a stunning anticipation save when one-on-one with Daichi Kamada in the 14th minute.

Madrid almost got their first, when Benzema released Vinicius to curl past Kevin Trapp in the penalty box, only for Tuta to clear the ball off the line.

With Madrid dominating possession, Frankfurt mounted several counter-attacks until Madrid launched a counter of their own in the 37th minute.

A diving Trapp got his fingertips to a goal-bound shot by Vinicius, pushing the ball out for a corner.

From the ensuing play, Benzema linked with Casemiro just next to the right post.

The Brazilian sucked in several Frankfurt defenders and a diving Trapp, before heading back to an unmarked Alaba who scored from close range.

After the goal, Madrid stepped it up a gear and should have gone 2-0 up, with Benzema uncharacteristically dragging the ball wide with the goal begging in the 41st minute.

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Vinicius, Benzema Connect 

Madrid’s quality became more obvious in the second half, with Trapp saving a deflected Vinicius shot in the 54th minute and Casemiro hitting the crossbar with 61 minutes gone.

Borussia Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff had a chance saved just minutes later before Vinicius and Benzema combined to put Madrid 2-0 up.

Vinicius skated down the left before slicing the ball back seemingly unsighted for the Frenchman to hammer home from the edge of the box.

Frankfurt fought hard in the closing stages but Madrid were able to dominate the game to win their fifth Super Cup from eight attempts.

The clash, in Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium, was the first time these two sides had met in a European decider since 1960 when Madrid dismantled Frankfurt 7-3 through four goals to Ferenc Puskas and three to Alfredo di Stefano in the European Cup final.

The match also highlighted the growing gap between the Champions League and Europa League competitions, with Madrid being the ninth Champions League team to win the competition in the past 10 years.

Only city rivals Atletico Madrid have won the Super Cup when qualifying via a Europa League win in the past decade, having done so by beating Real in the 2018 edition.

In the 10 years before, Champions League and Europa League participants won five Super Cups each.

Frankfurt joined Hamburg (1977 and 1983), Dortmund (1997), and Bremen (1992) as losing Super Cup finalists from Germany, with only Bayern Munich (2013 and 2020) having won the showpiece event.

AFP

Benzema, Asensio On Target As Real Madrid Down Juventus In Friendly

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the international friendly football match between Real Madrid and Juventus at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on July 30, 2022. Robyn Beck / AFP

 

Karim Benzema converted an early penalty and Marco Asensio added a second-half insurance goal as Real Madrid beat Juventus 2-0 in a pre-season friendly at California’s Rose Bowl on Saturday.

With his eye on Real Madrid’s European Super Cup clash with Eintracht Frankfurt in 10 days, coach Carlo Ancelotti started the same lineup that beat Liverpool in the Champions League final in May.

They produced the first victory of Real Madrid’s United States tour, after a 1-0 loss to La Liga rivals Barcelona in Las Vegas and a 2-2 draw against Mexico’s Club America in San Francisco.

Spectators were still trickling into the stands when French star Benzema had a goal disallowed just eight seconds into the contest, Uruguay’s Federico Valverde’s through ball catching him offside.

Eden Hazard #7 of Real Madrid is fouled by Glieson Bremer #3 of Juventus during the second half of their friendly soccer match at the Rose Bowl on July 30, 2022 in Pasadena, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP

 

Juventus had their best chance of the match in the 13th minute, but Leonardo Bonucci’s direct free kick hit the crossbar.

Benzema opened the scoring with a penalty in the 19th, crisply firing into the bottom left corner after Juventus’ Danilo brought down fellow Brazilian Vinicius Junior with a sloppy move in the penalty area.

Pressing hard to put the match to bed after the interval, Real Madrid were thwarted by Juventus goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who denied a sharply angled shot by Daniel Carvajal before soaring to stop a long-range left-footed blast from Benzema in the 62nd minute.

Two minutes later, Benzema was among the departing players as Ancelotti made nine substitutions.

He received an ecstatic cheer from the largely pro-Real crowd of 93,702 at the Rose Bowl, the picturesque stadium tucked into the foothills northeast of Los Angeles that was the venue for the 1994 World Cup final.

Asensio was among the substitutes and quickly made an impression, sweeping a cross from the left by Jesus Vallejo into the net with his left foot.

It was enough to seal the win in a match in which Juventus barely tested Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

AFP

Mbappe Wanted To Know If I Would Join PSG, Says Tchouameni

French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni holds a press conference during his official presentation as new player of Real Madrid CF at the Ciudad Real Madrid in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid, on June 14, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Real Madrid’s new signing Aurelien Tchouameni said Kylian Mbappe asked if he would sign for Paris Saint-Germain, as the 22-year-old was unveiled at Madrid’s training ground on Tuesday.

Madrid won the race to sign Tchouameni, one of the world’s most highly-rated midfielders, from Monaco in a deal worth around 100 million euros.

His arrival comes after Mbappe rejected Real Madrid to sign a three-year contract at PSG. Madrid have also signed Antonio Rudiger this summer, the defender joining from Chelsea on a free transfer.

“Kylian decided to stay at PSG and he already knew I was going to leave Monaco at the end of the season,” Tchouameni said in a press conference, after being introduced by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

“He wanted to know if I would go to PSG but I told him Real Madrid was my first choice and he understood that completely, he was very happy for me.”

Tchouameni has signed a six-year contract at Real Madrid after being linked with several of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Liverpool and Chelsea in the Premier League.

“As soon as Madrid arrived, I didn’t hesitate,” he said.

“I want to leave my mark on football and the best club for this is Real Madrid. It’s the best decision for me.”

He said Real Madrid’s sensational comebacks in the Champions League against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City helped him make up his mind.

Madrid beat Liverpool in the final to win the club’s 14th European Cup.

“It’s true that when I watched those games I wrote to my agent and told him, ‘please do everything possible to get me to Real Madrid’,” Tchouameni said.

After breaking into the first team at Bordeaux, Tchouameni joined Monaco in 2020 and was a key player last season as they finished third in Ligue 1, behind PSG and Marseille. He was also named Young Player of the Season at the end of the 2020/21 season.

With 12 caps for France, Tchouameni will be hoping to secure his place in the starting line-up for the World Cup in Qatar in November and he said former Real Madrid star and coach Zinedine Zidane as one of his idols.

Madrid have long-relied on Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro in midfield but all three are now in their thirties, with Tchouameni viewed as a possible successor to Casemiro.

“Since I was little I have played with two midfielders and in a 4-3-3 my position would be as a number six, but I can play as an eight as well, I can play in both positions,” he said.

Perez said Tchouameni is “one of the best midfielders in the world”. He added: “At 22 years old you were able to choose your club and you have chosen this one.”

UEFA To Investigate Champions League Final Chaos

Liverpool FC's supporters light flares near Place de la Nation in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid. Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP
Liverpool FC’s supporters light flares near Place de la Nation in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid.
Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP

 

UEFA announced on Monday it was opening an “independent report” into the security chaos before the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris.

European football’s governing body said the report would “examine decision making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final”.

UEFA have appointed Portuguese politician Tiago Brandao Rodrigues to oversee the report on a pro bono basis on the completion of which they will decide upon a course of action.

READ ALSO: Kano Pillars Extend Unbeaten Run At Handball Premier League

“Evidence will be gathered from all relevant parties,” UEFA said.

“The findings of the independent report will be made public,” it promised.

Brandao Rodrigues has served as Portuguese Minister of Education, was a member of the World Anti-doping Agency and was Portugal’s Olympic attaché during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

France on Monday blamed “massive” ticket fraud for the chaotic scenes that marred the Champions League final on Saturday which saw Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0.

But the French government has faced a barrage of criticism from press and politicians in Britain over the policing of the match.

Real Madrid Defy Champions League Odds But What Next For Ageing Team?

 

Real Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo lifts the The Champions League trophy after Madrid ‘s victory in the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Real Madrid may be the most successful club in Champions League history but they defied the odds all along their way to victory in this season’s final against Liverpool. The question now is how long they can continue to do so with their current team.

The Spanish champions’ build-up to Saturday’s match was overshadowed by Kylian Mbappe’s decision to turn down a move to Madrid and stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

That snub from the player Real hoped to build their next team around suggests the future looks uncertain.

For now Real can revel in winning their fifth Champions League in nine seasons, and a record-extending 14th European Cup overall, after a solitary Vinicius Junior goal decided the contest at the Stade de France.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were seen as the favourites heading to Paris, but then again Real were not expected to beat PSG, Chelsea or Manchester City on their way to the final.

A campaign that started inauspiciously, with Moldovan outsiders Sheriff Tiraspol beating Real at the Santiago Bernabeu in the group stage, has ended in familiar fashion.

Real have now won on each of their last eight appearances in the final of Europe’s elite club competition since they lost 1-0 to Liverpool in Paris in 1981.

“This Cup has been the most difficult to win, definitely. I think the fact that nobody thought we could win it helped us,” said coach Carlo Ancelotti, who was also in charge when Real won the trophy in 2014.

READ ALSO: Real Madrid Beat Liverpool To Win 2021/2022 Champions League

“I have to say that it is easier to win the Champions League with Madrid than another team.

“For all that has happened down the years, given the history and the support we have. The structure of the club makes it special.”

Ancelotti has now won four Champions Leagues as a coach, more than any other coach and the same number as Casemiro and Toni Kroos have managed with Real.

Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal have played in all five of Real’s final victories going back to 2014, while Marcelo, Gareth Bale and Isco featured in four before being unused substitutes on Saturday.

A team written off as too old and no longer good enough at the very highest level has won La Liga and beaten the top three in this season’s Premier League, the French champions and last season’s Italian champions en route to European glory.

“Coaching this team is easy,” admitted Ancelotti. But will Paris prove to be their last dance?

– ‘Mbappe is forgotten’ –

Modric will be 37 in September but is set to sign on for another season, while Benzema is 34.

Marcelo is the same age as the Frenchman and out of contract along with Bale and Isco, while 32-year-old Toni Kroos is heading into the last year of his deal.

Once the celebrations have died down, Madrid must plan to defend their European crown without the prized signature of Mbappe.

“Mbappe is forgotten,” Real president Florentino Perez told broadcaster Movistar+ after Saturday’s final. “Real will keep working to attract the best players.”

Saturday’s match-winner, the 21-year-old Brazilian Vinicius Junior, is such a formidable talent that they may indeed be just fine without Mbappe, while Eder Militao and Fede Valverde are not yet at their peak and Eduardo Camavinga is still a teenager.

Real are also still capable of competing economically with the giants of the Premier League and PSG.

They had the second-highest revenues in world football last season, just behind Manchester City, according to Deloitte’s Football Money League.

A study by analysts Football Benchmark last week ranked them as Europe’s most valuable club.

Yet Real were in favour of a breakaway Super League because of the threat posed to Europe’s traditional elite, in particular by PSG and Manchester City, who are both owned by Gulf states.

Those clubs have secured the services of the two most exciting young players in world football in Mbappe and Erling Haaland respectively.

Neither has yet got their hands on the Champions League and they will not give up until they get there.

Next season may be very different but Real –- with the weight of history behind them -– will not relinquish their crown easily.

FULL LIST: Recent UEFA Champions League Winners


The UEFA Champions League trophy is displayed prior to the start of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Recent winners of the UEFA Champions League after Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the 2021-22 final in Paris on Saturday:

2021-22: Real Madrid (ESP)

2020-21: Chelsea (ENG)

2019-20: Bayern Munich (GER)

2018-19: Liverpool (ENG)

2017-18: Real Madrid (ESP)

2016-17: Real Madrid (ESP)

2015-16: Real Madrid (ESP)

2014-15: Barcelona (ESP)

2013-14: Real Madrid (ESP)

2012-13: Bayern Munich (GER)

2011-12: Chelsea (ENG)

2010-11: Barcelona (ESP)

2009-10: Inter Milan (ITA)

2008-09: Barcelona (ESP)

2007-08: Manchester United (ENG)

READ ALSO: Real Madrid Beat Liverpool To Win 2021/2022 Champions League

Most European Cup/Champions League wins per club

Real Madrid (ESP) — 14 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

AC Milan (ITA) — 7 (1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007)

Liverpool (ENG) — 6 (1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005, 2019)

Bayern Munich (GER) — 6 (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013, 2020)

Barcelona (ESP) — 5 (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015)

Ajax (NED) — 4 (1971, 1972, 1973, 1995)

 

AFP

Tens Of Thousands Of Liverpool Fans Turn Paris Red

A Liverpool FC’s supporter walks past a Liverpool FC’s banner in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid. (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

 

 

 

Up to 60,000 Liverpool supporters, most without tickets, thronged Paris on Saturday, turning avenues and cafe terraces red in their team’s colours ahead of the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

With each club allocated space for just 20,000 supporters in the Stade de France, tens of thousands of the travelling fans were without tickets.

The atmosphere was more of that of a festival with only around a dozen arrests for minor infractions.

The ticketless red-shirted Liverpool supporters packed into a fanzone — with a capacity for 44,000 fans — set up in the east of the city where the match will be shown on giant screens later.

They jumped up and down, chanting: “Allez, Allez, we’ve conquered all of Europe, from Paris down to Turkey.”

They were greeted to an appearance on stage by club legend Kenny Dalglish, who scored the winning goal in the 1978 final.

 

Liverpool FC’s supporters gather near a kebab restaurant in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid. (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

 

“What a wonderful way to finish the season, lifting the European Cup,” Dalglish told the crowd which stretched back along a tree-lined avenue.

Many of the supporters had travelled to France on Thursday.

“Look by yourself, we’ve taken over all of Paris!” Rohan Sood, 22, from London, told AFP.

He wasn’t going to let the absence of a ticket spoil his day.

“It’s a crazy atmosphere everywhere we go we see Reds. Even without tickets it’s worth it so much.”

“Sun, cold beers, all our friends, a nice big screen, what else do we need? Thank you Paris for the warm welcome,” said Henry Coyle, 52, a Liverpool fan from Belfast in Northern Ireland.

 

Liverpool FC’s supporters gather in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid. (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

 

There were tough decisions to be made for the Carter family, as only their eldest son had managed to obtain a ticket for the match.

His mother Lucy, a 47-year-old doctor, said her other child and her husband had come along anyway.

“For me the warm-up, all the songs is definitely the best part. I find the game too nervy for me!”, she said.

Lucy Betteridge, 15, gave a succinct assessment of the match ahead.

“Our biggest hope tonight is Tiago’s feet and what we fear the most are Benzema’s.”

 

Liverpool FC’s supporters gather in Paris on May 28, 2022, prior to the Champions League football match final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid. (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

 

– ‘A golden moon’ –
Richie Stuart from Liverpool and his friends had invested 125 euros ($134) in plastic buckets and bags of ice to keep 70 bottles of beer cold until the final whistle.

He said he was hoping that atmosphere remained good-natured as the day wore on.

“Fingers crossed, because the sun, the alcohol and a defeat, and it can turn very bad very quickly,” he said.

Tomas Piatraszkiewicz, 43, who lives in Bournemouth on England’s south coast, said he had no choice but to come to Paris once his beloved Reds had qualified for the final.

“I’ve always supported Liverpool, it’s a club with a spirit, there is a Liverpool way of doing things. We’re now in a golden moon with the club. Jurgen Klopp is the best manager in the world for me and a good person,” he said.

Ten kilometres away, supporters of Real Madrid were soaking up the pre-match atmosphere in a separate fanzone — with enough space for 6,000 — reserved for supporters of their team near the Stade de France.

Although they were a smaller group than Liverpool’s travelling army, they were just as enthusiastic.

Mariano Brasal, a 66-year-old retired baker, and his son Diego, 33, only arrived in Paris on Saturday morning.

They have happy memories of attending the 2017 final in Cardiff together when Real beat Juventus.

 

Former Liverpool Scottish football player Kenny Dalglish lays a wreath of flowers behind one of the goal, in front of Liverpool’s supporters, in memory of the 39 fans, who died at the Heysel stadium 37 years ago, prior to the start of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022 (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

“I hope today it will be the same way,” Diego said. “I am very calm but maybe later when the match begins I’ll be nervous.”

Adelina Lete, who has supported Real for three decades, was overjoyed to be attending her third Champions League final.

She explained that during the season she drives her son 300 kilometres from their home in Navarre in northern Spain to watch Real’s home matches.

“It’s just my son and me today,” she said. She was hoping for a big game for her two favourite players, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, “who always give everything for the team”.

Liverpool And Real Madrid Ready For Mouth-Watering Champions League Final

 

 

 

Liverpool and Real Madrid meet in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp’s side aiming to end the season with a trophy treble while the Spanish giants will look to Karim Benzema to inspire them to a 14th European Cup victory.

A crowd of 80,000 will be inside the Stade de France for the 9:00pm (1900 GMT) kickoff, as Liverpool and Real compete for European club football’s most prestigious prize for the second time in five years.

The final promises to be a fitting climax to the European season, with Liverpool looking to win a second Champions League in four seasons just days after they narrowly lost out to Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

They have already won the English League Cup and FA Cup.

“If you are a football person you know what my boys did so far this season was exceptional,” Klopp said on Friday.

“But we all know you are judged by the colour of the medal after a game.

“I’m more than happy and proud of what we did so far, it’s really special. I will feel better if we win the game and that’s all that I am concerned about,” Klopp added.

The German has been boosted by the news that Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara are fit to play.

Both start in midfield for the Reds, while Luis Diaz joins Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in attack.

This final is only being played in Paris after Saint-Petersburg was stripped of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Up to 60,000 Liverpool supporters have travelled to the French capital, most without tickets.

With only 20,000 supporters from each club allowed to attend the final, tens of thousands of Liverpool fans packed into a fanzone set up in the east of the city, turning a tree-lined avenue into a sea of red.

“Look by yourself, we’ve taken over all of Paris!” Rohan Sood, 22, from London, told AFP.

– Bitter memories of 2018 –
Liverpool can win their seventh European Cup, which would take them level with AC Milan and leave only Real with more victories.

The Anfield club have bitter memories of losing 3-1 to Real in Kyiv in 2018, when Salah went off injured in the first half following a challenge by the now-departed Sergio Ramos.

Gareth Bale scored twice for the Spaniards and errors by goalkeeper Loris Karius undermined Liverpool’s challenge.

Madrid are looking to win their fifth Champions League in nine seasons and, ominously, have won on all of their last seven final appearances.

While Liverpool saw off Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal in the knockout rounds, Carlo Ancelotti’s Real produced a series of memorable comebacks to beat Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and then Manchester City.

“It is a great success for all of us to be here. We know very well the demands at this club, the history, but for us to get here is huge,” said Ancelotti.

“We are convinced that the season has already been very, very good but now we are very close to getting the big one.”

– Eyes on Benzema –
Liverpool look to have the stronger side on paper, with Alisson in goal, Virgil van Dijk marshalling their defence and Salah and Mane leading their attack.

Yet Real are pinning their hopes on Benzema, the 34-year-old Frenchman who has 15 goals in the competition this season.

He has scored 44 times altogether this season to lead Real to the Spanish title and is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.

“He is for sure one of the best players in the world, probably the best forward in the world, and I’m sure the most underestimated player maybe in history,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told AFP on Friday.

Ancelotti said of Benzema: “He has more personality and leadership on and off the field now but what has not changed is his quality and he remains as humble as ever.”

The only change to the Real team from their semi-final second leg against City is the return of David Alaba for Nacho Fernandez in central defence.

Ancelotti can become the first coach to win the Champions League four times, having also triumphed with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007 and with Madrid in his first spell in 2014 — he is currently level on three wins with Zinedine Zidane and Bob Paisley.

This will be the third final between the clubs, who also met in Paris in 1981, when the English side triumphed thanks to Alan Kennedy’s goal at the Parc des Princes.

Real Madrid Beat Liverpool To Win 2021/2022 Champions League

Real Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo lifts the The Champions League trophy after Madrid ‘s victory in the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Vinicius Junior scored the only goal of the game as Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris to become kings of Europe for a record-extending 14th time after a night marred by problems outside the ground that led to the kick-off being delayed by over half an hour.

Brazilian winger Vinicius turned in Fede Valverde’s enticing low cross in the 59th minute at the Stade de France and Liverpool could not find an equaliser as Jurgen Klopp’s side lost to the Spanish giants in a Champions League final for the second time in five seasons.

The Anfield side will wonder what might have been had the outstanding Thibaut Courtois not pushed Sadio Mane’s shot onto the inside of a post when they were on top in the first half, as they fell short of a trophy treble.

Real Madrid's French striker Karim Benzema celebrates his team's victory of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
Real Madrid’s French striker Karim Benzema celebrates his team’s victory of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Winners of the English League Cup and FA Cup this season, they just missed out to Manchester City for the Premier League title and were denied a victory here which would have put them level with AC Milan on seven European Cups.

Instead Real have a fifth Champions League in nine seasons to go with their Spanish title, as Carlo Ancelotti becomes the first coach to win European club football’s greatest prize for a fourth time.

Ancelotti was also in charge of Real when they won the 2014 final having also triumphed with AC Milan in 2003 and in 2007, the latter victory coming against Liverpool.

Delayed kick-off

The match kicked off 35 minutes later than the planned 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) start in the French capital after chaos at entrances to the stadium led to fans being unable to get to their seats.

UEFA said it was “sympathetic” towards those affected and put the huge build-ups of supporters at gates down to “thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles”.

Tear gas was also fired by police as a small number of people could be seen trying to scale fences around the perimeter of the groud.

The final was only moved to the French capital after Saint-Petersburg was stripped of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The delayed kick-off may have been responsible for the slow start to the game itself, as it took 16 minutes before there was an incident of note, Mohamed Salah turning a low Trent Alexander-Arnold cross towards goal only for Courtois to save.

Liverpool's Guinean midfielder Naby Keita (R) and Real Madrid's French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP
Liverpool’s Guinean midfielder Naby Keita (R) and Real Madrid’s French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022.
JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Liverpool were seen as favourites to avenge their loss to the Spanish giants in the 2018 final in Kyiv and they began to take control of the game.

Mane came agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the 21st minute as he skipped his way into a shooting position inside the box only for Courtois to tip his net-bound shot onto his right-hand post.

Klopp’s side, with Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara starting in midfield after overcoming fitness worries, were on top but could not turn their superiority into a lead.

Outstanding Courtois

Real, meanwhile, created almost nothing in the first half with Karim Benzema quiet, but their captain briefly thought he had got the breakthrough two minutes before the interval.

The Frenchman prodded home after the ball broke back to him inside the area but the offside flag was raised.

The decision to disallow the goal was upheld after a lengthy VAR check, despite Fabinho deflecting Valverde’s touch through to Benzema.

Yet Ancelotti’s side kept their nerve and were rewarded with the goal as the hour mark approached.

Real Madrid's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (C) makes a save during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Real Madrid’s Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (C) makes a save during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Valverde drove forward down the right before firing a low ball across the face of goal for Vinicius to turn it in at the far post past his Brazilian national team colleague Alisson.

Just like in 2018, Real had drawn first blood, but this time there was no need for them to send on Gareth Bale in order to ensure victory.

Courtois was superb, flying to his right to keep out a Salah curler before two saves in quick succession late on.

First the Belgian got down low when substitute Diogo Jota deflected Salah’s effort towards goal, and then he produced a strong arm to turn a Salah strike behind.

It was Real Madrid’s night.

 

AFP