2018 UCL Final Preview & Soccer Odds: Real Madrid vs Liverpool
The European 2017-18 soccer season officially comes to a close on Saturday from Kiev in the Ukraine as La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid looks for an unprecedented third straight Champions League title and is solidly favored on the soccer odds over English Premier League club Liverpool.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool 2018 UEFA Champions Final & Soccer Odds
When: Saturday, 2:45 PM ET
Where: Kiev, Ukraine
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Soccer Odds: Real Madrid +122, Liverpool +210, regulation draw +269 (3)
Why Bet on Real Madrid?
Not only is the Champions League title up for grabs, but so might be the Ballon d’Or, which is the honor that goes to the world player of the year. It’s likely the winner is either Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won it five times already, or Liverpool leading scorer Mohamed Salah. If one of those guys has a big game and his team wins, it could be enough to win the Ballon d’Or. The race is considered that close. The World Cup will also likely be taken into account. Ronaldo plays for Portugal and Salah for Egypt.
Real Madrid has had a disappointing season otherwise in finishing third to arch-rival Barcelona in La Liga and losing the Copa del Rey to Barca. Real closed the domestic season with a 2-2 draw vs. Villarreal last Saturday. Real Madrid blew a two-goal lead. Coach Zinedine Zidane handed a debut to his 20-year-old son Luca as first-choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas was rested ahead of the Champions League final. Everyone else of note played, though.
Gareth Bale, deployed in a more central role, broke the deadlock after 11 minutes to score for the fourth La Liga match in a row, with Cristiano Ronaldo adding a second just after the half-hour to put the visitors in control. After a disappointing season, Bale has now scored five goals in his last four games. Right-back Dani Carvajal proved his fitness by coming through the 90 minutes following a hamstring problem. Zinedine Zidane admitted his team had the European showdown on their minds as they let slip their two-goal lead against Villarreal.
How Was Their Performance in the Semi Finals?
In the semifinals of the Champions League, Real Madrid knocked out German power Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate to reach a third straight UCL final – winning the previous two and three of the past four. They are bidding to become the first club to be crowned European champions for three successive seasons since Bayern Munich in 1976. That was the pre-Champions League era. Karim Benzema had two goals in the 2-2 second-leg draw vs. Bayern. He has 55 UCL career goals, which is the fifth-most in the competition’s history.
Victory in Kiev would make Real Madrid the fourth team to claim three successive European crowns – and the first to do it twice, following their victories in the first five European Cup finals between 1956 and 1960. AFC Ajax (1971–73) and Bayern Munich (1974–76) are the only other clubs to have lifted the trophy three years running.
Zidane could also become the first coach to win three European Cups in a row, having become the first to win the UEFA Champions League in consecutive seasons in 2017. Ronaldo would become only the fifth player to appear in five European Cup final victories, and the first in the UEFA Champions League era. Madrid has won a record 12 European Cups, and have triumphed in their last six finals. Overall their final record is 12-3.
Why Bet on Liverpool?
Salah had a Premier League season for the ages with 32 goals in that competition, breaking Alan Shearer’s record for a 38-game season. Salah claimed the Premier League golden boot, finishing two goals clear of Tottenham’s Harry Kane — winner of the award in the previous two seasons — to add a sixth major individual honor.
The 25-year-old Salah has also swept the Premier League Player of the Season, the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year, the Professional Football Association’s Players’ Player of the Year, the Arab Player of the Year and the African Footballer of the Year awards in 2017/18. Yet despite that, Liverpool still finished 25 points behind Premier League winners Manchester City.
The Reds advanced to the final with a wild 7-6 aggregate win over AS Roma, winning the first leg 5-2 but losing the second 4-2. Liverpool reached 46 goals in 14 Champions League matches (including qualifiers), eclipsing the previous best set by Barcelona (in 16 games) in 1999-2000. Sadio Mane’s goal in the semifinal second leg against Roma took his, Salah’s and Roberto Firmino’s tally to 29 UCL goals, surpassing the previous record of 28 set by Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in 2013/14 with Real Madrid.
When Was the Last Time Liverpool Got to a Champions League Final?
It’s Liverpool’s first final in 11 years and eighth overall. This match is a repeat of the 1981 European Cup final, won 1-0 by Liverpool in Paris to give them a third triumph in the competition in five years. That was Madrid’s last defeat in the final of this competition.
That 1981 victory is also the only time an English club has prevailed against Spanish opposition in a European Cup final. Liga clubs have won the other three meetings, Barcelona beating Arsenal 2-1 in 2006 and Manchester United in both 2009 (2-0) and 2011 (3-1).
The sides have met five times previously, all in the European Cup, with Liverpool winning three of those fixtures and Madrid two. The English club have scored six goals; Madrid have scored four. They last played in the 2014/15 group stage, Madrid winning both games with Benzema scoring twice and Ronaldo once in the first, a 3-0 away win. Benzema got the only goal as Madrid won 1-0 in Spain two weeks later.
The Reds have won five of their seven previous European Cup finals. No members of Liverpool’s squad have previously played in a UEFA Champions League final.
Expert Champions League Betting Prediction
Salah has been amazing, but Real Madrid is much deeper. It wins 3-2.