Picture it. It’s 24 hours from now. You’re me, sobbing in the fetal position on your kitchen table. You’re listening to this playlist. Liverpool have been thrashed 6-2 by a rampant Real Madrid in the Champions League Final. Life is bad, if rather unsurprising.
Picture it. It’s 24 hours from now. You’re me, running shirtless around the block. You’re singing this at the top of your lungs. Liverpool have squeaked out a 3-2 victory over an underperforming Real Madrid in the Champions League Final. Life is amazing.
These are the two scenarios of Saturday’s contest. One is far more likely than the other. Liverpool go into the final as underdogs, which is not exactly a surprise. Real Madrid have the pedigree, back-to-back titles and Cristiano Ronaldo to show for it. However, there remains hope. Liverpool have been fantastic in this year’s competition, and come into the match with no fear. I have this strange feeling… I believe most call it optimism. After all, it is just one game. So, with as little bias as possible, here’s how Liverpool can either prove everyone right or set Kiev alight.
How it can all go surprisingly right
Luck. A lot of it. All right, credit where it’s due. Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino (perfect teeth and all), and Sadio Mane could win a match alone. It’s no exaggeration to say that Liverpool have the best front three in Europe (technically, they’re second in goals scored, but PSG play in Ligue 1, so they are disqualified.) The trio has ranked in the top three of goals, assists, chances created, shots, tackles and interceptions for the last six months. The impact of the loss of Philippe Coutinho was minimized- if not removed all together- by their production.
Salah is terrifyingly quick and embarrasses defenders for fun. Firmino is a workhorse like no other, and doesn’t even need to look at the goal to score. Mané occasionally does good things like this. We also have James Milner.
*exhales* Right. All hope is not lost. Andy Robertson is a great full back and Virgil Van Dijk is a beast in the heart of defense. Our midfield is solid and will work almost as hard as Emre Can’s hair does to stay perfect. Trent Alexander-Arnold is a talent to behold, and has thrived on the big stage. Loris Karius has improved immeasurably between the sticks. Unfortunately, Dejan Lovren plays for us.
Could be a long 90 minutes.
How it can all go horribly wrong
Where to start? There are not many things I fear in this world. Spiders are scary, as is the imminent and surprisingly real threat of Yellowstone’s supervolcano blowing up and ending us all (bit of science for you there). Neither of those scare me as much as Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League. The man had, by his standards, a terrible start to the season. The press slaughtered him as recently as January. Then, he did this.
Oh no. In truth, Liverpool have far more to fear than a plastic surgery-happy Portuguese. Madrid’s midfield consists of Toni Kroos, Casemiro, and Luka Modric. The three work in tandem to control the match and orchestrate one of the games great possession-based teams. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane form one of the best center back duos in football. They also have that Gareth Bale guy, bald patch and all.
Additionally, Liverpool could do a lot of beating themselves. The defense has come a long way from the one that conceded three second half goals to Sevilla last November. It is, however, still painfully liable to lapses in concentration and reason. So, yeah, a lot can go wrong.
Saturday is going to be fun. I shall wake up, put on my Firmino jersey, and chew my nails off for 90 plus minutes. It will hopefully be a thrilling game of attack-minded football. Heavy metal versus orchestra. Salah versus Ronaldo. The upstarts versus the established. Blind ignorance versus rational thought.
3-1 Liverpool. You’ll Never Walk Alone. Lest we forget: