C1: Liverpool-Real, epic final in Paris against a backdrop of Ballon d’Or

The steamroller of Liverpool against the immutable Real Madrid: the third Champions League final between these two European behemoths, on May 28 at the Stade de France, promises an epic battle with, in the backdrop, the quest for a quadrupled and that of the Ballon d’Or.

The Reds against the White House… The duo Mohamed Salah-Sadio Mané against the savior Karim Benzema. The flamboyant Jürgen Klopp against the sober Carlo Ancelotti … Could European football dream of a better final for its prestigious C1?

The Stade de France in Saint-Denis, designated in place of the initial host, Saint-Petersburg, after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, is therefore preparing to receive red and white cohorts of supporters, in which arguably stands as the peak of the 2021-22 season in world football.

Because in addition to delivering spectacular performances in each match – the crazy semi-final between Real and City will undoubtedly be remembered for a long time -, these two teams pile up the titles: Real has just been crowned in the Spanish Championship , when Liverpool is still aiming for an incredible C1-National Cups-Premier League quadruple.

Will the Ile-de-France enclosure and its 80,000 seats take to singing “You’ll never walk alone”, the liverpuldian anthem?

Liverpool striker Sadio Mané during the Champions League semi-final second leg against Villarreal, at La Ceramica stadium, May 3, 2022 (AFP – Paul ELLIS)

The feat seems unthinkable, but Anfield has been dreaming about it for a few weeks. Because Liverpool have already won the English League Cup. Because he is in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 14. Because he is, finally, only one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League, with a 38th and last day scheduled for May 22, six days before Paris …

“No team in the history of English football has achieved the quadruple, right? It’s because it’s extremely difficult. We’re still a long way from thinking about such crazy stuff,” Klopp swept away at the start of March. Difficult, however, to chase this sweet dream now that the Reds have their place in the final.

– Benzema in front of his home crowd –

Saint-Denis welcomes a panoply of stars, but one king is already attracting attention: Karim Benzema. In the favorite stadium of the Blues, from which he was banned for a long time before returning with a bang last summer, the hero of Madrid is ready to write a new page in his history.

With 15 goals this season in C1, including 10 in the final phase, “KB9” is a huge favorite for the Ballon d’Or and is directly measured against the two rare competitors who covet him: Mané and Salah.

Already finalists of the CAN won by Senegal, these two attackers are once again familiar with the holy grail, before opening an uncertain page in their careers, while their contracts expire in a year and their extensions are far from certain.

The ingredients are therefore united. Real is aiming for a 14th Champions League, which would make twice as many titles as its runner-up in history, AC Milan. Liverpool dreams of lifting the Cup with big ears for the seventh time, after his last coronation in 2019 against Tottenham.

Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah against Villarreal, in the semi-final return of the Champions League, on May 3, 2022 at the La Ceramica stadium (AFP - Paul ELLIS)
Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah against Villarreal, in the semi-final return of the Champions League, on May 3, 2022 at the La Ceramica stadium (AFP – Paul ELLIS)

Between the two formations, it is also a beautiful one: the first final between the two clubs went into the hands of Liverpool, 1-0 in 1981; the second smiled at Madrid, 3-1 in 2018.

Finally, for the coaches, it is a question of supremacy. If Jürgen Klopp can mark the history of the Reds a little more, Carlo Ancelotti is only one step away from becoming the first coach to win the supreme title four times.


Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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