Saturday’s Champions League Final brings us two of the wealthiest, most powerful clubs in the world for an end of season match-up that isn’t lacking for hype.
While Liverpool has run roughshod over the Champions League this year, and are the odds-on favorite, Real Madrid certainly can’t be counted out and are expected to, at the very least, make this a competitive match.
Not only should this be a closely contested match, but the odds are leaning towards a scoring-heavy match, with the odds on over 2.5 goals standing as the current favorite. This is in stark contrast to recent Champions League Finals, which have ended in shutouts in three of the past five years (with the two most recent years ending at 1-0).
While Liverpool has been next to impeccable throughout this season (tallying a final record of 28W, 8D, 2L), they’ve clearly slowed down a bit in recent matches, and the recent loss of Thiago to hamstring issues is only going to compound that issue.
On paper, they have a significant advantage over Real Madrid because of their early pressing style and far greater number of shots on goal per-game, but in a championship situation, they could conceivably play more conservatively and pick their spots to a greater degree than normal.
Because Real Madrid often takes over games late, the key factor for Liverpool will be to get ahead early and prevent Real Madrid from having majority possession time in the second half.
While Liverpool spent much of the early season shutting out opponents and never giving them significant opportunities to score, the Liverpool team that is going into Saturday’s contest has been less defensively sound in recent contests, and that could give Real Madrid opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
For Real Madrid, the key will be to stymie the Liverpool attack early, and try to take over late in the game once the Liverpool legs have tired. While the teams are almost exactly the same in terms of average age (with Liverpool at 27.2 years old and Real Madrid at 27.5 years old), Real Madrid has been more known recently for choosing their spots and playing a more conservative style than Liverpool.
Beyond that, Real Madrid had the opportunity to rest many of their key players recently, due to their domination of La Liga this season. Unfortunately for Liverpool, Man City was able to take the Premier League crown this year, and they had a far more difficult road in recent weeks in order to make it to the Champions League Final.
That said, Liverpool still rested some veterans and key players down the stretch, so stamina shouldn’t be as big of a factor as it may have been otherwise.
Liverpool vs. Real Madrid Betting Pick
For the official betting pick of the Champions League Final, I’ll be taking Liverpool to score first, available for -135 at BetMGM. The oddsmakers are clearly favoring this pick, and due to the closeness of this match-up, there isn’t a ton of value to be had on any specific bets (unless you were to zag when everyone else chose to zig), so we’ll be trusting in the Liverpool first half offense to get them on the board early.
Liverpool vs. Real Madrid Prediction
For Saturday’s Champions League Final, I’ll be taking Liverpool 3-1 over Real Madrid.