From the kick-off time to the battle for the Ballon d’Or – everything you need to know about this season’s tournament decider at the Stade de France
After last weekend’s absorbing UEFA Women’s Champions League final between Barcelona and Lyon in Turin, now it’s time for the men’s main event in Paris.
Liverpool will take on Real Madrid in a repeat of the 2018 Champions League final, which was marred by Mohamed Salah’s early injury but illuminated by the Gareth Bale wonder-goal that sealed a third consecutive triumph for los Blancos, and a 13th overall.
The Reds have every reason to be confident of gaining revenge for that 3-1 loss in Kyiv, given they have won every single away game on the road to Paris.
But one can never, ever write off Madrid, who have pulled off one miraculous comeback after another on one of the most thrilling runs to the final the Champions League has ever seen.
Drama, then, is guaranteed Drama in this clash between two of the European game’s traditional super-powers.
When is the 2022 Champions League final?
Liverpool’s eagerly-awaited rematch with Madrid will kick off on Saturday, May 28 at 2000 BST / 1500 ET.
The game will be broadcast by BT Sport in the United Kingdom, while American viewers will be able to follow the action on CBS, in English, and Univision, in Spanish.
Where is the 2022 Champions League final taking place?
The Champions League final will be staged at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris.
The 80,000-seater arena has staged two previous tournament deciders: Madrid’s 3-0 rout of Valencia in an all-Spanish affair in 2000; and Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal in 2006.
However, it is worth noting that the last time Liverpool met Madrid in a European Cup final in Paris, in 1981 at the Parc des Princes, the Merseysiders’ triumphed 1-0 thanks to Alan Kennedy’s late goal.
Who are the favorites to win?
Madrid are the most successful side in Champions League history, having conquered the continent on 13 occasions.
They are also bidding for what would be a fifth title in the past eight years and can still call upon many of the players that helped them win three in a row between 2016 and 2018, including Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Dani Carvajal and , of course, Karim Benzema.
Bale, Marcelo, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho are also likely to be on the bench.
It was the introduction of Bale which turned the 2018 final against Liverpool, with the Welshman netting a spectacular overhead kick less than two minutes after coming on to put Madrid 2-1 up before sealing victory with a speculative shot from distance that Loris Karius spilled.
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However, the Reds have improved exponentially since that painful night and it is they who are bookmakers’ favorites to prevail in Paris.
Liverpool put their 2018 defeat behind them as quickly as possible by returning to the final 12 months later to clinch their sixth European Cup with a 2-0 defeat of Tottenham.
The following year, they ended their 30-year English title drought by winning the Premier League by a whopping 17 points from second-placed Manchester City.
Injuries to key players such as Virgil van Dijk derailed their 2020-21 campaign – during which they were knocked out of the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate by Madrid.
However, having made a couple of shrewd signings in Ibrahima Konate and Luis Diaz, Liverpool now boast what Jurgen Klopp has admitted is his strongest ever squad.
Why does Salah want revenge on Real Madrid?
Salah admitted before the second leg of Madrid’s semi-final with City that he wanted to play the Spanish side in Saint Denis and then, after the fixture had been confirmed, he tweeted: “We have a score to settle.”
The Egyptian’s declaration drew criticism from some quarters, on the grounds that it might serve as added motivation for Madrid, but his preference was understandable.
After all, Salah was forced off just half an hour into the 2019 final with a shoulder injury sustained after a controversial tangle with former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
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Klopp was in no doubt that the center-half had deliberately wrapped up Salah’s arm and dragged him to the ground, accusing Ramos of acting “like a wrestler”.
“Ramos said a lot of things afterwards that I did not like,” the Reds boss told reporters. “As a person, I did not like his reaction. He was like: ‘Whatever, what do they want? It’s normal. ‘ No, it is not normal. ”
Ramos has always maintained that he did nothing wrong. At the time, he posted on social media: “Sometimes football shows you its good side and others the bad. Above all we are fellow pros. Get well soon, Salah. The future awaits you. ”
As for Salah himself, he stated: “It was a very tough night, but I’m a fighter.” And now he will get another chance to go toe to toe with Madrid in a Champions League final.
Is it Mane vs Benzema for the 2022 Ballon d’Or?
Salah, of course, will also be hoping to advance his Ballon d’Or cause by lighting up the final and he’s certainly one of the leading contenders, given the role he’s played in Liverpool’s fantastic season.
However, many believe that this year’s trophy will go to either Sadio Mane or Benzema, given the integral roles they’ve played in their respective teams’ runs to the Champions League final.
Benzema, of course, is the tournament’s leading goalscorer, with 15 goals in just 11 games.
The Frenchman has been on fire in the knockout stage, netting in five consecutive matches, a brilliant run of form that has featured hat-tricks against both Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.
However, Mane has been decisive for Liverpool, scoring in both legs of their semi-final win over Villarreal.
It’s also worth remembering that the Senegalese superstar also fired his country to a first Africa Cup of Nations triumph earlier this year, with Mane netting the decisive penalty in the shootout success over Egypt.
The winger then repeated the feat in Senegal’s World Cup qualifying play-off with the same side, which is why some believe Champions League glory would result in Mane becoming just the second African after George Weah to win the Ballon d’Or.
What happened in the Women’s Champions League final?
Lyon re-established themselves as the dominant force in women’s football with a stunning 3-1 victory over Barcelona in Turin.
A number of the French side’s players had admitted beforehand that they had been irked by the suggestion that their Catalan rivals had re-invented the game while winning a treble last season, and they certainly seemed keen to prove a point.
Indeed, Lyon raced into a 3-0 lead inside 33 minutes, with Amandine Henry, Ada Hegerberg and Catarina Macario all on target.
Barcelona captain pulled one back for Barca shortly before the break, with a strike that saw the Blaugranes captain finish the tournament as top scorer with 11 goals, but there was to be no dramatic second-half turnaround.
Consequently, Lyon cemented their status as arguably the greatest dynasty in Champions League history by lifting the trophy for an eighth time in just 11 years.