Luis Díaz has to nod from Klopp, although Real Madrid may prefer to face him Karen Carney


LIverpool vs Real Madrid will decide the best conditions, so the good news is that Jürgen Klopp has one of the best offensive lines in Europe. Whatever combination he chooses, he will be first class, but I think he will choose the first three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz.

Salah did not finish his job after being forced prematurely due to a shoulder injury when these teams last clashed in the 2018 Champions League final, which will have a strong impact on a player who needs to find the final stunt after a long season. energy in hopes of securing another trophy.

If you look at modern shooters like Salah or Son Heung-min, who shared this year’s Golden Football, they are not spikers, they are skillful players who score goals from the wings. Salah is a gamechanger who can turn it on immediately and make a difference. When I watched him in the semifinals of the first match against Villarreal, he was 85 minutes silent, but in the five minutes when they won the lead 2: 0, he was key. He’s like a player on the PlayStation – as soon as you press the forward button, he just starts playing.

Diaz has been really good since he arrived from Porto in January. He brought a different dynamic to the Liverpool attack and should rightly start in Paris. The Colombian has a pace and freshness that will make him a threat. He changed the game in Villarreal and will be sure that he will be able to do the same on Saturday. The wing player moved Mané to a more central role, where he was very impressive and has scored 13 goals since returning from the African Cup of Nations.

Playing against Diaz may be more convenient for Madrid than if Liverpool used Robert Firmin as a fake 10, which would allow Mané to return to a wide area and allow Salah to play even more in the construction phase. Mane and Salah could be even more efficient there, but I would be surprised if Klopp made a change for the finals.

Sadio Mané is preparing for the Champions League final this week.
Sadio Mané is preparing for the Champions League final this week. Photo: Paul Ellis / AFP / Getty Images

Liverpool may face a team that will sit deeply and be compact, as has sometimes been the case against Chelsea and Manchester City. Liverpool will want Thiago Alcântara to be fit, as he is key in the middle of the advance when it comes to finding gaps in defense. If Thiago can’t board, more emphasis will be placed on getting players to wider areas. Jordan Henderson will expand, Naby Keïta will try to break through the lines and Fabinho will protect the defense in this pocket.

If they sit deep, Henderson will try to create congestion at large, leaving room for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Salah at the bottom right. I think Liverpool will try to work its wings, but with Thiaga it can also go centrally. It would be a big loss for them if he couldn’t play or he was fit enough for just 20 minutes. They need it in this type of game.

Diogo Jota and Firmino have not disappointed anyone this season and could win a major role. Two attackers have the ability to get off the bench and change something. We’ve seen a lot of big matches lately, from the FA Cup final to the loss of England in a penalty shootout with Italy at Euro 2020. Substitutes can play a huge role: if it’s 0-0, you have to play. and open things; if you lose, you need them to change; and if you win, you need an impulse to continue in the right way.

The Liverpool strikers impressed the whole season, but their most important player is Virgil van Dijk. It is their most valuable asset. Salah, Mané and Thiago rightly get a lot of praise, but if I had to take one player from Liverpool, I would take Van Dijk. He would have to be his best, because Liverpool would have to keep Karim Benzem quiet. When I watched Real Madrid in Chelsea, it was Benzem’s show for one. He’s the best player I’ve seen live in the last 18 months.

Karim Benzema completes his hat-trick in Chelsea, where he gave a sovereign individual performance.
Karim Benzema completes his hat-trick in Chelsea, where he gave a sovereign individual performance. Tom Jenkins / The Guardian Pictures

Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro will not want to get into the running battle in the middle of the advance because they will lose. But Madrid will hope that their defensive structure will allow Rodrygo and probably Vinicius Junio ​​to overcome the pace and turn Liverpool around.

When I watched Real, they really surprised me; they lure you into a false sense of security when you think they don’t care or are not in the game, but then they suddenly turn it on. I’m not sure if they can feel a little pressure and just shift, but it’s an incredible skill. They’re not dominant for 90 minutes, but they’ll just do it when they have to. You can never rule them out.

Liverpool will not want to miss the Premier League by a point and follow it up with a final defeat of the Champions League, because that would make a potentially great season good. Fortunately for them, they have players who can make a difference in Paris. It is up to them to seize this opportunity.



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