Football News

LIVE: UEFA Champions League 2018 Final, Real Madrid Vs Liverpool

Written By Narayan R | Mumbai | Published:

And it's time to say goodbye, at least till the FIFA World Cup. 

FULL TIME | Real Madrid have won the UEFA Champions League for the third consecutive time. The Spanish side bat Liverpool 3-1, with Gareth Bale scoring two, coming off the bench, and Benzema scoring another. Sadio Mane scored the only goal for Liverpool.

90 + 2' | A fan comes onto the pitch, and the match is stopped for a brief period. Ronaldo is disgruntled, as he was through on goal.

90' | Madrid fans are singing 'Champione Champione, Ole Ole Ole'. Three minutes of extra time!

89' | Big Benz is replaced for the final few minutes by Marco Asensio. Loud cheers from the fans for both the players. 

87' | Ronaldo has been poor, but Madrid haven't been affected by it. Bale and Benzema have saved the day, it seems.

86' | Back to back corners as Madrid look to kill the time. 

85' | What a challenge from Lovren. Bale gets away and is set to be one on one with Karius, but Lovren saves the day.

83' | Emre Can is waiting to come on. And he enters, replacing James Milner. GOAL! Shocker from Karius. Bale is given space on the right side, and he takes a shot. The ball was straight at the goalkeeper, but his weak punch lets the ball creep inside the goal. Game over surely!

81' | What a cross from Bale from the outside of his left foot. Benzema hits it first time, but Karius keeps it out.

80' | Now Madrid trying to bring calm by stringing a couple of passes together. 'Keep the ball' is the call.

78' | It's all Liverpool as they go chasing for the equalizer. Ronaldo and Benzema the only two up for Real Madrid. 

76' | Lallana is penalised for a handball. On the other hand, Ronaldo's poor day continues, as he fails to get past Henderson.

74' | What a challenge from Robertson. Ronaldo was almost one on one with the goalkeeper, but the full back makes an stunning last ditch tackle.

73' | It's now Liverpool keeping the ball against Madrid countering. The English side ask for a penalty after the ball hits Casemiro's arm. Referee waves it on.

70' | OFF THE POST! Great effort from Mane from outside the area, but unluckily it hits the post. 

68' | That goal has knocked the stuffing out of Liverpool. They were playing with energy after the equalizer by Mane, but the Bale stunner has just stunned them. 

66' | Madrid pass around, slowing the tempo. Good thinking!

65' | Call that as an impact. Less than five minutes after coming off the bench, Bale has produced arguably the goal of the season.

64' | Madrid have switched to a 4-4-3, with Ronaldo on the left side, and Bale on the right. GOAL! What a goal from Bale. A cross from the right foot by Marcelo, and Bale scores an overhead kick which could match Ronaldo's effort against Juventus. SIMPLY STUNNING! 

61' | Corner for Madrid, as Karius makes a good save off Isco's shot. That is the Spaniard's last piece of action, as Gareth Bale replaces him.

60' | The game has finally headed into the second gear. Both the team are showing aggression and a will to attack.

57' | Brilliant piece of defending from Lovren, who times a perfect challenge on Ronaldo to snuff out a potential danger.

55'| GOAL! Liverpool equalize! Corner taken by Milner from the right hand side. Lovren wins the initial header and hits it back towards the goal. Mane is there to tuck it in. Game on!

53' | Liverpool can argue all they want, but the truth is, it was a blunder from Karius. Benzema though, seemed offside, so two reasons to grumble.

51' | GOAL! Benzema scores as Karius puts his head down in shame. The goalkeeper has the ball in his hand. He tries to pass it to his teammate, but Benzema intercepts, and puts it in the goal. Controversial, but Real Madrid don't care.

50' | Madrid's midfielders are doing the job, but Ronaldo and Benzema aren't providing them the kind of support needed.

48' | Off the bar! Isco on the edge of the box get the ball after Liverpool lose the ball in their half. A great chance for the Spaniard.

47' | The second half start slowly, as both the sides keep possession. No attacking effort till now.

And we're back on!

Ronaldo knows how it feels to get injured in a UEFA final. 

HALF TIME | A forgettable half in terms of goalmouth action. Both the teams have struggled to create any real opportunity. Liverpool enjoyed the early possession, but couldn't do much with it. Madrid ended the half stronger, and had a goal ruled out for offside. In between, injuries to Salah and Carvajal have put gloom on their fans. What will happen in second half, we will find out after 15 mins!

45+2' | Corner for Madrid heading into the 2nd minute of extra time. But the delivery from Kroos is poor. 

45' | Good cross from Benzema, and Nacho has a first time effort at goal. But it hits the side netting. Madrid now creating chances. 3 minutes added on!

43' | BENZEMA SCORES! But no, he's called for offside! A great cross from Isco, and Ronaldo hits a header on goal. Great save from Karius as the rebound is put in the goal by Benzema, but is ruled out!

41' | Poor pass from Ronaldo as he makes an error in the pass when Madrid were on attack.

40' | Big Benz loses the ball as Madrid try to attack. The Frenchman has had absolutely no impact. A forgettable night till now!

38' | It's Madrid with the possession, but no real attacking threat. Ronaldo and Benzema have been spectators, as the Liverpool fans whistle.

36' | An injury concern now for Madrid. Carvajal is down, and looks to be in real pain. Oh boy! Now looks set to be substituted. Nacho set to replace him.

34' | Casemiro does a brilliant job to win the ball from Mane, and then win the foul. Madrid are now content with keeping the ball. 

32' | The injury has forced a reshuffle in Liverpool setup. Mane and Firmino are playing like two centre forwards. A four-man midfield now.

30' | Adam Lallana is getting ready to come. He is set to replace Salah, who is unable to continue. Huge Huge blow for Liverpool.

29' | Corner for Liverpool, won by Mane on the right side. Milner swings it in, but a foul is called against Navas. SALAH IS DOWN AGAIN, IN TEARS!

27' | The Egyptian is back up, much to the happiness of Liverpool fans. And now, he's back into the field.

26' | It doesn't look good for Liverpool's star-man, who fell down on his shoulder following a tussle with Ramos. This isn't good for Liverpool.

25' | Ronaldo seems miffed by what's happening around. Isco runs into trouble, but is saved by the referee's whistle. Salah is down!

23' | First effort on the goal, as Alexander-Arnold hits a low shot, but it is well saved by Navas. Good play from Liverpool nevertheless.

22' | A foul from Milner gets Carvajal rolling on the floor. A long ball nearly caught out Madrid's defence, but Ramos saves the day.

20' | It's all gone quiet now on the pitch. Both the teams struggling to get going.

18' | Corner for Liverpool after an shocking pass from Carvajal. The resulting corner is headed just over the bar by Van Dijk.

17' | Madrid with the possession in the opposing half, but unable to do much as Carvajal misplaces another pass.

15' | First attempt on goal by Ronaldo. He gets space down the right, runs at the defence, and gets a shot at the goal. But it's over the bar. 

14' | It's all Liverpool at the moment. Kroos' misplaced a pass, and just summed up the first 14 minutes for Real.

12' | Madrid are just keeping the ball for the moment, slowing the play down, and trying to tire down their opposition.

10' | Real Madrid have struggled to get going, with Ronaldo failing to get involved. Attempt at goal from Marcelo, but it is well wide.

9' | The English side are enjoying the possession, and have been the better side early on. Oh! Good play from Liverpool as they reach the opposition penalty box, but Navas snuffs out the danger. Good cross from Robertson from the left, but Firmino's header is wayward. 

6' | Liverpool have the early possession. Free kick for Liverpool, as Salah is fouled by Marcelo. Milner and Salah over the free kick. A training ground routine as Milner rolls the balls to Salah for a shot, but a brilliant block from Modric.

3' | Both the teams make an attacking start, without threatening the opposite goal keeper. An offside was called against Isco as he tried to make a run behind Liverpool's defence.

And here we go!!!

Players come out to the field, much to the excitement of the fans.

The players are inside the tunnel, looking ready for the big occasion.

The opening ceremony has started at the Kiev, as fans enjoy before a grueling final kicks off. Sean Paul and Dua Lipa have lit up the arena with their performance. 

Just 15 more minutes to go till the kick-off! 

Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool: Lost in the final of League Cup. Lost in the final of UEFA Europa League. ?? in the final of UEFA Champions League.

It's an important contest for both the sides. Real wouldn't want to end the season trophy less. As for Liverpool, there is no better opportunity to win their first UEFA title since the remarkable 2005/06 Champions League triumph.  

Here are the starting XI for both the teams

Real Madrid: Keylor Navas, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Rafael Varane, Marcelo, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Isco, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Liverpool: Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnon, Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Georgino Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino

Live Blog: UEFA Champions League 2018 final, Real Madrid vs Liverpool at Kiev 

So, the final of  UEFA Champions League is just around the corner. The contest is between a team who is looking to create history, and another looking to re-create history. Real Madrid are aiming to achieve an unprecedented feat by winning the title for the third consecutive year. Liverpool on the other hand, are aiming to win their sixth European title, and first since 2005/06 season.

While there is a huge gulf in quality amongst the two sides, their strengths and weakness are almost identical. The Spanish team boasts of arguably the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo, best midfielder in the world in Luka Modric and best defender in the world in Sergio Ramos. In comparison, Liverpool can only boast of Mohamed Salah as the only true world class player within their ranks.

Ronaldo vs Mane, Firmino, Salah

Both Real and Liverpool have a threatening front-line. Everyone knows the attacking strength of Madrid, given they have Ronaldo, who is enjoying another unreal season in CL with 15 goals. Though, support from the likes of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema has been minimal this campaign, meaning the complete responsibility is on the shoulders of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Now before this season, the world knew about BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) and MSN (Messi, Neymar, Suarez). But in 2017/18, a new trio was formed, and has taken over the world with their creativity and goal scoring exploits. Yes, its the MFS (Mane, Firmino, Salah). The three combined have scored 29 goals in the CL this season. And more than the goals, it has been their co-ordination with each other which has blown other teams away.

On the attacking front, it looks an equal contest, despite the statistics showing it to be Ronaldo vs Liverpool's front three.

Combative and Creative midfield

On paper, the midfield is an area where Real are completely dominant over Liverpool. There's arguably any side in the world which can boast an central defensive midfielder like Casemiro, and two world class playmakers in Modric and Toni Kroos. The trio have been ever present, and are the fulcrum behind Ronaldo and co. scoring goals. Add Isco to this, and you have creativity all around the pitch.

As said earlier, Liverpool don't have a midfield to compete Real's on paper. But the game of football doesn't work like this!

In James Milner, the English side have the leading assist maker in the Champions League. The utility man has slotted in the midfield trio with ease, and his endless running gives his side legs on the pitch. In the centre of the midfield would be club captain Jordan Henderson, who like Milner, can run all day long. While he hasn't been as creative as Liverpool's No.7, his presence will provide assurance to the back four. The third spot will be taken by either of Georginio Wijnaldum or Emre Can. The former is a runner, and someone who would link up with the attack. The latter is a fighter, and will cover the whole pitch. 

It won't be wrong to say, the midfield battle is one between Real's creativity and Liverpool's grit and determination.

Shoddy and Leaky defense

If there is one area where both the teams are begging for improvement, its the defense. Just like the midfield, Real has the better individuals in their backline, but they have struggled to perform like a group. Club captain Sergio Ramos and Rafael Varane are certain the back two, and will be flanked by Dani Carvajal and Marcelo. But neither Ramos or Marcelo are conventionally 'good' defenders. They are known to leave behind spaces in which the opposition can attack. And Keylor Navas in the goal can at times be unbeatable, and other times flappy.

Now, if we say Real's defense is bad, then a synonym needs to be searched for Liverpool's defence. Despite the inclusion of 75 million pound signing Virgil Van Dijk, their backline leaks goals. Their full backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are attackingly sound, but defensively vulnerable. While Van Dijk is a quality and can ooze confidence, Dejan Lovren is the complete opposite. The Croatian can go to sleep at times, and is vulnerable against pace. And in their goal is Loris Karius, who isn't really someone who'd inspire much confidence.

Well, it is hard to remember an UEFA Champions League final in recent times which had two nearly simlar teams competing against others. Given the strengths and weakness of both teams are similar, the contest will boil down to which team stands up to the occasion. Will Zinedine Zidane's calm head lead Real to another title, or will Jurgen Klopp's energy earn Liverpool their biggest achievement since 2006. We will have to find it out!