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Reds v Madrid in Kiev-Preview

Real Madrid will be bidding to lift their third straight Champions League title when they square off against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in what promises to be a mouthwatering clash in Kiev on Saturday evening.

Zinedine Zidane’s side are the only team in the history of the modern Champions League era to win back to back trophies, and they could cement their position as one of the greatest ever modern European teams if they beat the Reds in the Ukrainian capital city this weekend.

With arch rivals Barcelona winning both La Liga and the Spanish Copa del Rey, the Champions League represents the only chance of silverware for Real’s French gaffer. Los Blancos finished third in La Liga, wrapping up a disappointing campaign with a 2-2 draw away at Villarreal last weekend. Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, both potentially key figures in Kiev, put Real 2-0 ahead before a late fightback allowed Villarreal to pick up a point.

Liverpool sealed 4th place and a spot in next season’s Champions League by easing past Brighton on the final day of the Premier League season. If they had lost to the Seagulls and Chelsea had beaten Newcastle, Jurgen Klopp’s side would’ve been in the unenviable position of having to win the CL in order to participate in the tournament next season. As it stands, they don’t have that burden on their minds, and have also had the benefit of an extra week’s rest in comparison to Real in the buildup to this mega event.

The Spanish side have taken the hard path to this season’s final, first emerging from a “Group of Death” that also contained Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur, and then beating Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich in consecutive knockout ties.

Liverpool had an easier group, topping one that also included Sevilla, Spartak and Maribor. Their knockout opponents were Porto, Man City and Roma, in that order, with their performance against Pep Guardiola’s side over two legs the highlight of their campaign.

Real Madrid have already lost twice in Europe this season, once to Spurs at Wembley, and the other to Juve at home. However they have the habit of producing the goods when required, and a look at the Champions League odds confirms that Zinedine Zidane’s men are favourites for this clash (8/11 in comparison to LFC’s 23/17 at the time of writing), so all Champions League lovers will enjoy watching the game for sure! To bet on Liverpool or Real Madrid, it’s a hard choice, and it will be interesting to see the latest odds online for the winner of this year’s Champions League final.

Liverpool are in their first Champions League final since 2007, and will be without the services of Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for this clash.

Recent form guide

Liverpool 4-0 Brighton
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
Roma 4-2 Liverpool
Liverpool 0-0 Stoke
Liverpool 5-2 Roma

Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 6-0 Celta Vigo
Sevilla 3-2 Real Madrid
Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 2-1 Leganes

Real Madrid v Liverpool kicks off in Kiev at 21.45 EEST on Saturday May 26, 2018.

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Vicente del Bosque- No LFC player would make Real starting XI

Former Real Madrid and Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has stoked the flames ahead of Los Blancos’ Champions League final clash against Liverpool by saying that no player from the Reds would make Real’s starting eleven.

Del Bosque, a two time Champions League winner as Real manager, made the statement to COPE, and said that he couldn’t find a single Liverpool player “who would improve Real” and “not even Mohamed Salah”

Salah has been in sparkling form for Liverpool, breaking records for fun and has been pivotal in their unbeaten run to the final. The Egyptian was a key player in the Reds’ knockout victories over Porto, Man City and Roma and his duel with Real left Marcelo is expected to be a key one in Kiev this weekend.

Despite the fact that Real have already lost twice in the CL this season, Del Bosque remarked that “they had the best squad in Europe” currently and would beat the Reds “4-1” in the final.

VdB

Del Bosque, Spain’s coach at the 2012 European Championships and the 2010 World Cup, heaped praise on the club’s BBC trio, saying that Bale, Benzema and Cristiano were key to the Spanish side’s fortunes.

Real and Liverpool have never met in the final in the modern CL era. Liverpool’s last final appearance came in 2007 while Real are the holders, having beaten Juventus in the last year’s final.

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Aulas says no contact with Liverpool over Fekir

Outspoken Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michael Aulas has indicated that the Rhone Valley outfit have had no contact with Liverpool over a summer transfer for Nabil Fekir.

Fekir is widely expected to move to Anfield this summer, with reports indicating a transfer fee or around £60-70m. Aulas has indicated that the Reds would have to break the bank for the transfer, saying that someone would have to be “very, very rich” for OL to sell their star playmaker.

Nab F

Lyon qualified for the Champions League with a final day 3-2 win over Nice thanks to a hat trick from Memphis Depay and Aulas has indicated OL’s presence in Europe’s premier club competition may persuade Fekir to stay for another season. However French media sources seem to think otherwise, with Canal reckoning the deal is “99%” done, and the home crowd giving him a standing ovation when he was substituted against OGCN- the kind one would expect when the player is potentially playing his last game for his club.

Lyon were widely tipped to be one of the favourites for the Europa League with a final on home soil, but crashed out in the round of 16 to Russian outfit CSKA Moscow, after qualifying behind Atalanta in their group.

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High ticket & hotel prices burn holes in fans’ pockets ahead of CL final

Liverpool and Real Madrid fans wishing to watch their two teams do battle in Kiev this weekend are finding out the whole trip will end up denting their wallets by more than just a bit.

Both clubs were given 16,626 tickets each, meaning a little over half would be given to fans of the two teams squaring off in the 63,000 capacity stadium in the Ukrainian capital.

Resale tickets for the event have been selling as high as £1,337, the face value of which was just £61 during the club’s official ticket allotments.

But fans are keen to go, with Liverpool making their first European Cup final appearance in over a decade. In fact, local band Echo and the Bunnymen wanted to reschedule their concert in order to see the final, but changed their mind after angry fans made their voice heard on social media.

LFC Fans

It’s not just tickets- hotels and airlines are making merry as well. For example, a hotel room for the final costs a whopping £859, but the same is available for just £16 a week later. Even flights from Kiev to London appear to be carrying a 6x markup, with a return around the time of the final available for £1,214 versus a modest £267 for the same sector a week later.

Liverpool fans have dubbed these a “tax on their passion” with Derek Twigg, a British parliamentarian who is also a LFC season ticket holder, calling the situation “appalling”

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Stoke appoint Paul Lambert as new manager

Stoke City have officially announced that Paul Lambert will take over the reigns at the Bet365 Stadium from Mark Hughes. The Potters are currently third from bottom in the Premiership and will square off against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United at Old Trafford later tonight. Lambert will not be in charge for that fixture- his first assignment will be this weekend against newbies Huddersfield Town, who lost 4-1 at home to West Ham over the weekend.

Lambert was chosen by Stoke after their original top three targets- Martin O’Neill, Gary Rowett and Quique Sanchez Flores, all declined the opportunity to succeed Hughes.

Hughes had managed Stoke for four and a half years before his dismissal and guided them to three straight ninth place finishes and one 13th place finish. However a run of six defeats in the last eight games and elimination from the FA Cup at the hands of lowly Coventry sealed his fate.

Stoke will be Lambert’s third Premier League assignment after Norwich (P38- W11, D12, L15) and Aston Villa (P101- W25, D26, L50). He has also managed the likes of Colchester, Wycombe Wanderers, Blackburn and Wolves in the past.

Paul Lambert Stoke

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Blues mull Carroll signing

Chelsea are seriously considering the option of moving for West Ham striker Andy Carroll to solve their goal scoring crisis. The Blues’ last three games have been 0-0’s and if rumours are to be believed, they want to sign a stop gap arrangement for now before moving for a big name in the summer, and Carroll apparently fits the bill. The likes of Watford’s Richarlison and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Thorgen Hazard (the brother of Chelsea star Eden), are also being targeted by the Blues.

It appears tough to fathom why Chelsea might want to sign Carroll- he’s been injured for most of his time with West Ham and broke the longest goal drought with them with a brace against Albion. A loan deal with an option to make the move permanent in the summer could be what the Blues are looking for. However West Ham are expected to allow Diafra Sakho and Javier Hernandez to move on in the current window, which makes selling Carroll unlikely.

The potential signing of Carroll also means that Michy Batshuayi will, in all likelihood, leave the Bridge, with Sevilla a rumoured destination as he seeks vital playing minutes ahead of the World Cup in Russia this summer.

Carroll Chelsea