The eyes of the football world will be on Paris on May 28 as Real Madrid and Liverpool go head-to-head in the final of the 2021/22 Champions League.
After finishing top of Group D during the opening phase, Madrid had to navigate their way past some of Europe’s top clubs in the knockout stage.
Victories over Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City suggest their name may well be on the prestigious trophy this season.
Liverpool had things much easier, winning six out of six in Group B before defeating Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal on their way to the final.
Given who each team has beaten to reach this stage of the competition, it is surprising to discover that bookmakers rate Liverpool as favourites to lift the trophy.
A quick look at the latest FansBet betting odds rates the Reds as 10/19 shots to win the Champions League, with Madrid priced at 7/5.
However, while the oddsmakers favour the Premier League outfit, it would be foolish to underestimate the current La Liga champions.
Previous meetings between the two sides give Madrid the edge, with the Spanish side boasting four wins to Liverpool’s three in eight matches in Europe.
The clubs last met in the 2020/21 quarter-finals, where Madrid progressed to the last four courtesy of a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Vinicius Junior (2) and Marco Asensio were on target for Madrid in the first leg, with Mohamed Salah replying for the Reds. A goalless draw in the reverse fixture was enough to send Madrid through.
The most recent of the clubs’ two final meetings was in 2018, as Madrid became the first side to win three successive European Cups twice.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Madrid early in the second half, before Sadio Mane quickly equalised for Liverpool.
However, two goals from substitute Gareth Bale including a superb overhead volley secured a fully deserved 3-1 victory for Madrid.
They also had the upper hand in the 2014/15 group stage, recording a 3-0 victory on the road and a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu Stadium.
Liverpool had better luck in the 2008/09 round of 16, winning the first leg 1-0 in Spain before adding a comprehensive 4-0 win at Anfield.
They also triumphed 1-0 in the 1981 European Cup final at the Parc des Princes in Paris, with Alan Kennedy firing home the winner late in the game.
While Liverpool will fancy their chances of levelling the historical series against Madrid, their chances appear to have been overrated by the bookies.
Madrid produced a remarkable comeback against Man City in the semi-finals, scoring twice after the 90-minute mark to send the game to extra time.
Karim Benzema’s penalty sealed a famous 6-5 aggregate win and kept Madrid’s hopes of a 14th success in this competition alive.
With Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp bemoaning his side’s busy schedule, Madrid will head into the game as the fresher team.
Beating PSG, Chelsea and Man City to reach the final is no mean feat and they look a good bet to give manager Carlo Ancelotti a record fourth Champions League win.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool.