Now that we’re coming to the end of the year, the Champions league gets closer to the final in Kiev between the two greatest teams of Europe this year. So who are our contenders?
In the red corner, we have Liverpool and Roma. Both teams have showcased their attacking prowess and defensive shortcomings throughout the tournament. Coming out of the first leg, Liverpool thrashed Roma at Anfield 5-2. At one point it was 5-0, but defensive errors led Liverpool to concede two goals in the last 10 minutes. This is exactly what we’ve come to expect of Liverpool this season: put on an attacking clinic only for it to be canceled out by poor defending. Mo Salah has been Liverpool’s key in the Champions League this year, and he shows why in the first leg. Scoring two goals and two assists in the first leg, Mo Salah proved that when he’s at his best, no one knows how to stop him. He made the pitch his own on Tuesday and if he plays like that in the second leg, Roma can kiss their Champions League dreams goodbye.
However, there is importance in the two goals Roma scored. Those two away goals will be huge coming into the home leg for Roma as they will only need to shut out Liverpool 3-0 to secure a spot in the final. This may seem difficult, but Roma did exactly this in the quarterfinals when they were down 4-1 to Barcelona in the first leg. History tells us that Roma is very capable, and this fact will worry Liverpool players come next week. Roma has shown that behind the leadership of De Rossi and its plethora of young talent, anything is possible. If they can figure out how to shut down Mo Salah and play on the counter-attack to take full advantage of the high-pressure system Jurgen Klopp uses, Roma may still have a chance.
My prediction: Liverpool 2-3 Roma (Agg. 7-5)
In the blue corner, we have the two heavyweights: Real Madrid vs. Bayern. This is the marquee matchup. The best team in Spain vs. the best team in Germany. This is also a rematch of last years knockout rounds where many say Bayern was robbed and Ronaldo put on an absolute clinic. In the first leg Real went to the Allianz Arena in Munich and got away with a 2-1 win. Bayen was extremely unfortunate since they lost both Boateng and Robben to injury in this game. With Neuer already gone, Bayern’s star player count seems to be dwindling by the minute. Real Madrid also proved in this game why they have won two consecutive Champions league trophies. Zinedine Zidane and his team have champions DNA and to have come away with an away goal from the Allianz, let alone a win, is huge for real.
We can’t call this in Real’s favor yet, but Bayern will have to come out and score at least two goals if they’re to win the game. Bayern has star power and is being led by one of its greatest ever historic managers, but this may be too tough an ask even for them.
My Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Bayern Munich (Agg. 5-2)
So it seems like we’ll have a Liverpool vs Real Madrid final in Kiev this summer. Two attacking teams in the final means we may see an exciting match come the final. We will also be able to see Mo Salah and Ronaldo on the pitch facing off in one of the biggest matches either of them will play. Both players are the top contenders for the Ballon d’Or this year and this match may have serious weight in deciding who football’s top award is given to.
More to come after the second leg.