Liverpool and Real Madrid in a European Cup final in Paris is the perfect way to end a season, and the kick-off is fast approaching as the build-up continues.
We asked Real Madrid fan, author and journalist Scott Martin a few questions about the game to get the view from the Santiago Bernabéu ahead of the match, as well as the recent decision to remain in Paris rather than move to Spain made by Kylian Mbappé.
This is what he had to say ahead of the clash between the sides at the Stade de France …
Liverpool vs Real Madrid in Paris – a proper Champions League final. In Spain, who’s seen as favorites for the game?
By every measurable metric, Liverpool are considered favorites to win their seventh Champions League title. But Real Madrid weren’t supposed to beat PSG, Chelsea, or Manchester City either. In Madridista minds, that cultural X-Factor will always have Los Blancos believe they’re the favorites.
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Real Madrid have had the title wrapped up for some time, while Liverpool have still been playing competitively until the very last minute of their league season. Will that have an impact?
As we’ve seen with Bayern Munich in previous seasons, there’s always the threat of complacency and competitive dulling due to early league titles. Squad rotation slightly favors Real Madrid, but great teams and players can find the resolve to fight through fatigue in the biggest moments. Liverpool will have no concerns about fatigue.
Karim Benzema is the obvious threat for Liverpool to stop. How good a season has he had? Will he relish the battle with Virgil van Dijk?
Karim Benzema’s season is Ballon d’Or worthy. The battle versus Virgil van Dijk is mouth-watering, but the Frenchman’s penchant for playing off-center, skewed to the Madrid left, will limit their direct encounters.
Who are the other obvious threats that Liverpool need to shut down?
Benzema and Vinícius Júnior versus Trent Alexander-Arnold and whoever starts at right-center-back is a key match-up. Look for Real Madrid to target Alexander-Arnold in transition, using the pace and one-versus-one dribbling ability of Vinícius to run at the Liverpool backline.
The victory over Manchester City was remarkable to watch, and it sometimes feels that Real Madrid just can not lose heading into big Champions League games. Is that the feeling in Spain for this one?
Winning pivotal matches, especially when the odds are so heavily stacked against you can only breed confidence and the belief that persevering through adversity is the expectation. This club has a history of enduring suffering, of overcoming obstacles no matter the size.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s belief that Real Madrid could overcome Manchester City while trailing 2-0 in the 85th minute of the second leg epitomises the belief of Madridistas.
Kylian Mbappé has confirmed, of course, that he’s staying with PSG. How big a shock was that at the Bernabeu?
Kylian Mbappé’s announcement came as a massive shock in Madrid and globally among Madridistas. For more than a year, there was the assumption that the deal was done and personal terms agreed upon.
PSG offered terms Madrid simply could not. But no player is bigger than Real Madrid.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané both are approaching having only a year left on their contracts, and both have, at times, been linked with moves to Real Madrid. With no Mbappé, does that seem realistic to you?
It makes perfect sense. Lack of depth up top has been an issue, which is in stark contrast to the strength Liverpool enjoys. Twenty-one-year-old Rodrygo Goes’ development positions him to play a bigger role in the Spanish capital next season, but adding a goalscoring winger who is in his prime would greatly benefit Madrid.
It’s thought that Real Madrid are leading the chase for Aurélien Tchouaméni. Does that excite you, and should we read anything into Real Madrid beating Liverpool to the prize (if indeed it does pan out that way)?
After the Mbappé saga, I’d hate to jinx this deal. If Aurélien Tchouaméni does in fact sign for Real Madrid, the club has their long-term successor to Casemiro. It’s a positional signing the club has considered for a couple of years, so the patience to find a player who seems to fit the role so well is commendable.