From Paris to heaven | Canary Islands7

Karim Benzema. / EP


Real Madrid is pursuing the 'fourteenth' against a Liverpool that is looking for the 'seventh' in the most repeated Champions League final in history

Oscar Bellot

OSCAR BELLOT Special envoy to Paris

Twenty-two years after winning the 'eighth' in the same venue with goals from Morientes, McManaman and Raúl that shattered Valencia's dream, Real Madrid returns to Saint-Denis in search of the 'fourteenth'. The majestic Stade de France is the setting in which Carlo Ancelotti's team hopes to put the finishing touch to a Champions League in which the epic has been his inseparable battle companion. Three eliminatory rounds resolved on the edge of the abyss against the club-states that threatened to bury the old regime have once again placed the dashing lancer of the aristocratic lineages of the beautiful game at the gates of glory. The only obstacle that stands in his way is Liverpool, another custodian of the old essences that his 'seventh' pursues against an infallible opponent in all the finals of the top continental competition that he has played since the goal of the ' network' Alan Kennedy shot down, 41 years ago, the 'Madrid de los García', precisely in the French capital. From Paris to heaven.

The city of light, love and Mbappé will once again serve as the incomparable setting for another volcanic brawl between two teams that have accessed the star duel by very different routes. Liverpool, undefeated champions of the so-called 'group of death', then left Inter, Benfica and Villarreal in the ditch to sneak into the finalists of the old European Cup for the tenth time. In all those ties, he layed the pass in the first leg with force and tied it in the return, showing that he also knows how to move on the ledge when he touches.

Real Madrid got through the first phase with no more disappointments than the unexpected defeat against Sheriff at the Bernabéu, but they put the cardiovascular health of their fans to the test at the crossroads. Against PSG, he went from drama to euphoria in half an hour of madness in the heat of his parish. Against Chelsea, he brushed against tragedy at La Castellana after returning from Stamford Bridge with a comfortable income. And against Manchester City, six frantic minutes separated the agony from an orgiastic explosion of pleasure that will be remembered for decades. After that triple somersault, the most difficult still remains: getting rid of a Liverpool thirsty for revenge for what happened on May 26, 2018 in kyiv.

The soldiery of Jürgen Klopp does not forget the accumulation of setbacks that led Real Madrid to seal its third consecutive title in the Ukrainian city, today beaten by the Russian satrap. With Salah at the helm, he has conspired to settle scores and regain the throne that he last held in 2019, when he tore Tottenham to pieces at the Metropolitan.

The Anfield team aspires to finish off in style a season in which they have lifted the League Cup and the FA Cup, fought to win the Premier until its closure and reached their third final in the last five editions of the Champions League. A journey as brilliant as it is exhausting.

Fabinho and Thiago arrive between cottons, although Klopp has Van Dijk and Salah in good condition, who also gave the scare. Physical vigor, intensity and pressure are the hallmarks of this Liverpool that moves to the rhythm of rock 'n roll, has two daggers in the lanes and has decisive figures in both areas. Although Alisson has the second lowest save percentage in the Champions League, according to Opta data, it will be difficult for him to emulate Karius, whose vaudevillian performance in kyiv sealed his villainous status in the eyes of The Kop.

Carletto's last roof

The Brazilian goalkeeper will fight with Courtois one of those individual confrontations that are shaping up to be crucial for the outcome of the match. The Belgian goalkeeper is part of the decade of members of the Real Madrid squad who still do not know what it is to reign in the competition for which the club that pays them goes out of their way. His desire for glory is one more incentive for a squad in which experience is an added value to the talent and harmony that has carried it on the wings.

Ancelotti has the entire group in perfect review and was able to afford to dose his Praetorians in the last month, while Klopp's had no room for breath. After becoming the first coach to win the five major leagues, Carletto chooses to break another ceiling: being the only coach with four 'orejonas' behind him. Against Liverpool he lost one of the four Champions League finals that he has faced to date as coach. The rest counts them by triumphs, including the one that served him as revenge for the 'miracle of Istanbul'. The whites have only failed in three of the sixteen they have stepped on previously. Now Klopp wants to join the exclusive club that Béla Guttmann, Helenio Herrera and Bob Paisley belong to. The only ones who have successfully discussed one of the axioms that have shaped the history of the Champions League: Real Madrid don't play finals, they win them.

Likely lineups

  • Liverpool:
    Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Salah, Mané and Luis Díaz.

  • Real Madrid:
    Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Valverde, Benzema and Vinicius.

  • Referee:
    Clement Turpin (France).

  • Hour:
    9:00 p.m.

  • Stadium:
    Stade de France.

  • TV:
    La1/Movistar Champions League.

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