One of football’s most prestigious prizes will be contested for on Saturday night when title holders Real Madrid take on five-time winners Liverpool in the 2018 UEFA Champions League final in Kyiv.
Real Madrid go into the finale looking to win a third successive title, a feat never achieved in the Champions League era and last achieved when Bayern Munich won the old European Cup between 1974 and 1976.
Other records the Spanish giants have going for them is that they have won their last six final appearances and that their talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo, has scored the most goals in Champions League finals (four goals).
While it won’t be out of order to bet on the reigning Ballon d’Or holder to get a fifth (and sixth) finals goal in Saturday’s face-off, Liverpool do have a few stats going in their favour.
We said Real Madrid have won their last six final appearances, right? Well, guess the last team to beat them in a European final? It had to be Liverpool, but way back in the 1981 final.
However, one present-day record Zinedine Zidane’s team would be wary of is the fact that Liverpool are the top scorers in this season’s competition with 40 goals scored so far.
What’s more, Jurgen Klopp’s blistering front three comprising Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and the Egyptian Messi, Mohammed Salah are responsible for 72.5 percent of those goals.
Salah has scored 10 goals as has Firmino while Mane is one behind his team-mates, and the three forwards only have one player ahead of them in the Champions League scoring charts – Cristiano Ronaldo with 15 goals.
One key element going into this final is the big game experience in both teams. While virtually all the players in Real Madrid have played in and won at least one Champions League title (Ronaldo is gunning for a fifth win in the competition to equal Liverpool’s tally), this would be a chance for all of Liverpool’s squad to win a first Champions League title.
This element extends to the touchline, too, as Zidane is aiming to become one of three managers ever to win the title three times just as he would be the first one ever to win the three titles consecutively.
Klopp meanwhile has previously reached the Champions League final once when he led Borussia Dortmund to the 2013 showpiece match only to lose 2-1 to Bayern Munich.
The 50-year-old manager would go on to lead Liverpool to the 2016 Europa League final only to see his team relinquish their advantage and fall 3-1 to Sevilla.
It makes for darker reading that Klopp has lost five of the six major finals he has led teams to, but he would be extra motivated to get a win this time around.
The odds eventually are stacked against Liverpool no thanks to their overall inexperience at the stage of the Champions League. But the Reds overcame an English-dominant Manchester City in three of four encounters this season. Nothing stops them then from overcoming a Europe-dominant Real Madrid in the final.