This is Liverpool’s third Champions League final in five seasons, having followed their 3-1 loss to Real in Kyiv by beating Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid a year later, and they are widely regarded as slight favorites at the Stade de France to become the kings of Europe for the seventh time.
It would put them level with AC Milan, with only Saturday’s opponents winning the trophy more often, and it would allow the Anfield club to end the campaign with a treble after winning the English League Cup and the FA Cup.
“Winning trophies, there’s no better feeling,” Liverpool’s Andy Robertson admitted this week.
For a long time an unprecedented treble was in the works, but Klopp’s side narrowly failed in the Premier League, finishing one point behind Manchester City.
“Without the Champions League it would be a great season. With the Champions League it would be a fantastic season,” Klopp said.
2008 champions Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra look into their crystal ball to predict the final 🔮 😁Now it’s up to you… https://t.co/8pkuE0zXgO
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) 1653573289000
It’s already been a memorable couple of years for Klopp’s side after their defeat in Kyiv, when Mohamed Salah was forced into injury in the first half, Lorius Karius endured a nightmare in goal and Gareth Bale’s brilliance won the trophy for Real.
“I think it’s time for revenge,” admitted recently Salah, author of 31 goals this season.
Liverpool look well placed given their reinforcement since 2018, mainly in goal with the arrival of Alisson, while Thiago Alcantara has stood out in midfield.
The problem is, you could be forgiven for thinking Real’s name is on the cup, as it has literally been so many times before.
With Liverpool beating Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal in the round of 16, it’s easy to forget now that Carlo Ancelotti’s Real side lost at home to Sheriff Tiraspol in the group stage, such was their extraordinary run ever since.
Paris is ready 👌#UCLfinal https://t.co/wBiXgvzuVg
—Liverpool FC (@LFC) 1653570120000
They trailed 2-0 on aggregate against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 before a Karim Benzema hat-trick in 17 second-half minutes in the second leg saw them through.
Against Chelsea in the quarter-finals, they scored late at home in the second leg to force extra time before Benzema secured their winner.
The best was booked for the semi-final against Manchester City when they entered the 90th minute of the second leg needing two goals just to force extra time. They duly got them and Benzema then hit the winner.
The 34-year-old Frenchman now leads Madrid to the final in his home country after a campaign in which he scored 44 goals, including 15 in Europe and 27 in their run for the Spanish title.
Benzema will surely be nailed to the Ballon d’Or if his club triumph in Paris, where victory would also help Real fans overcome Kylian Mbappe’s decision to snub them.
Madrid are chasing their fifth Champions League in nine seasons, a run that began when they beat Atletico Madrid in Lisbon in 2014.
Benzema was part of this squad, as was Luka Modric, while Ancelotti was the coach in his first term.
The Italian veteran can now become the first manager to win the Champions League four times, having also triumphed with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007.
This latest victory came against Liverpool and was revenge for the Anfield club’s victory over Ancelotti’s Milan in Istanbul in 2005.
“To play a final with them is something special. They have won six Champions Leagues, and if they reach seven they would equal Milan, so I have extra motivation to win this final,” smiled Ancelotti, who had a stint as boss of local rivals Liverpool Everton before returning to Madrid.
It will be the third final between the clubs, who also met in Paris in 1981, then the English won thanks to Alan Kennedy’s goal at the Parc des Princes.
This final was not supposed to be played here, but Paris intervened after UEFA deprived Saint Petersburg of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A crowd of 80,000 will fill the Stade de France, with 20,000 fans from each team officially in attendance.
However, around 40,000 more Liverpool fans are expected to travel to Paris without tickets, and around seven thousand police will be on duty as part of a massive security operation.