After yet another thrilling campaign we finally have our two finalists for the 2022 Champions League Final. Real Madrid will meet Liverpool at the Stade De France in Paris on May 28th to crown the winners of this year’s tournament (TV schedule).
Previewing the 2022 Champions League Final
Liverpool’s Road To The Final
Liverpool were handed a relatively tough draw in the group stages having to meet Italian giant AC Milan, reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid and Portuguese Primiera Liga champions Porto. That makes it all the more impressive then that they managed to come out of the group with maximum points, scoring 17 and conceding just 6.
They were not spared in the round of 16 however when they squared off with last season’s Serie A champions Inter Milan. The Reds squeezed past The Nerazzurri winning 2-1 across both legs after a nervy second leg where Inter won 1-0.
The quarter finals saw them drawn against Benfica, although Benfica were no pushovers and they still had to make sure they did a professional job, seeing the Portuguese side off 6-4 on aggregate.
They last played Villareal who were playing way above expectations and once again nearly handed a shock to the six-time European Champions. After winning the first leg 2-0, Liverpool went 0-2 down before their comeback, in which they scored three goals in 13 minutes to win the leg 3-2 and secure their place in Paris.
Real Madrid’s Road To The Final
Real Madrid on the other hand were handed a slightly easier draw in the group stages. Their toughest opponents on paper were Italian giants Inter with Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol and Ukranian underdogs Shaktar Donetsk rounding out the group.
They started strong, seeing off Inter 1-0 before being stunned when Sheriff Tiraspol recorded a historic 2-1 victory over Los Blancos at the Santiago Bernabéu. This seemed to wake them up however, going on to win all remaining group games and conceding just once more.
They then went on one of the most thrilling runs to the final in recent memory. After losing 1-0 to PSG in the first leg of the round of 16, Real again went 0-1 down in the second and looked doomed to bow out of the competition. However, a goal from Karim Benzema in the 61st followed by a quickfire double in the 76th and 77th minute completed his hattrick and saw Real qualify for the quarter final.
It was there that they came up against current holders Chelsea. After stunning them to win 3-1 in the first leg, another edge of your seat game in leg two saw them knock the defending champions out in extra time. They then faced a semi-final trip to tournament favourites Man City, losing an exhilarating encounter 4-3.
It was time for Real to pull of another upset and they did just that, with substitute Rodrygo scoring in the 89th and 91st minute to cancel out Riyad Mahrez’s opener and take the game into extra time. An early Benezma penalty was enough to see them through to their 4th final in 7 years.
Real and Liverpool’s most famous recent meeting is the 2018 final, where a couple of wonderstrikes from Gareth Bale sunk the hearts of scousers everywhere.
Liverpool will be out for a measure of revenge for that final in 2018 that has long stuck in the minds of The Kop, with Champions League Final odds listing them as +100 favourites.
Karim Benzema also scored in that match and his form heading into the final is nothing short of outstanding, topping the Champions League scoring chart with 14 goals. His performances have been integral to Madrid’s campaigns in both the Champions league and their title wining La Liga campaign.
Liverpool’s key player is no surprise to anybody. Salah currently tops the Premier League goalscoring and assists table with an incredible 22 and 13 respectively. The Egyptian won the Football Writers Association (FWA), Footballer of the Year award earlier this month and will be relied on heavily for this match.
Perhaps one of the most exciting things about this game however is the chess match set to ensue between managers Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp. What is most fascinating about Ancelloti’s side is the way he has had them adapt different styles of play between the league and in Europe. Despite dominating teams in La Liga, the Italian has often found his side as the underdog in Europe this year. This is accented best by the fact that their average possession of 62.2% in the league drops considerably to 52.2% in Europe.
Klopp on the other hand is a pioneer of the gegenpress. His tiring pressing style, committing players high up the pitch, has suffocated teams for the last few years, sharing dominance in the league with Man City. There is no doubt they have the ability to undo a Madrid defence which has conceded 11 goals in the knockout stages. However, whilst Klopp’s methods are tried and tested, this may still work in Ancelotti’s favour, with Madrid showing to be so treacherous on the counter this campaign.
This is certain to be a thrilling encounter between two giants of football and is not to be missed.