OWelcome to live coverage of the 2022 Champions League final, the 67th overall since its inauguration as the European Cup, and the third between Real Madrid and Liverpool, the first time two clubs have met three times in the final of the continent’s premier club competition.
Liverpool begin their quest for a seventh title, which would lift them above Bayern Munich in third place to join Milan tied for second, while Real Madrid are aiming for a 14th, double the number won by the Rossoneri that would take their winning record to 21 percent. What about a record. Since 1956 they have reportedly won more than a fifth of all finals, essentially European champions around once every five years since the start of the competition.
Speaking of seventh triumphs, it was, you will recall, in the City of Lights that Liverpool delayed Real Madrid from winning their seventh for another 17 years when Barney Rubble aka Alan Kennedy controlled the throw-in of the late Ray Kennedy, bustling towards the box and beating that unstoppable lifter past Agustín in 1981.
Real Madrid got their revenge in Kyiv 37 years later by ‘virtue’ of Sergio Ramos’ injury to Mohamed Salah, two Loris Karius handling errors which may or may not be the result of a concussion – and if it was Liverpool should have replaced him – and a truly stunning goal, arguably the best in the history of the final, from Gareth Bale who starts tonight on the bench as he did in Ukraine four years ago .
It is the first time since 1998, when they reached the final under Jupp Heynckes, having finished fourth in La Liga and with an openly riotous dressing room, that Real have started as underdogs. It’s easy to see why. Liverpool, with their stellar forward three, whichever of the five he chooses, moving in fascinating patterns, play-making full-backs, one with his marauding runs, the other with the widest passing range , a world-class keeper and center-half plus the great Fabinho, are worthy favourites. They are tougher than they were in 2018, wiser and have more talent in three areas: midfield, alongside Virgil van Dijk (as Dejan Lovren played in Kyiv) and between the sticks.