Champions League Final 2019
We're here in beautiful Berlin tonight to witness a clash of the giants, with Premier League winners Liverpool taking on La Liga champions Real Madrid for the title of the best club in Europe.
Liverpool are competing in their third Champions League Final in as many years, a truly remarkable feat, and could also be lifting their eighth European Cup if they seal victory here.
It may be hard to look beyond a club more successful than Liverpool in this competition, but Real Madrid is that exact club, with Los Merengues having won the Champions League title no less than ten times.
In this football match though, history means nothing, and only the best team will win tonight.
Seeded into a Champions League group consisting of Atletico Madrid, Fiorentina, and Trabzonspor, Liverpool had a bad start as they dropped a game to Atletico, but experienced no problems after that and managed to top Group B with 13 points in 6 games.
Bayer Leverkusen awaited in the First Knockout Round and the Germans certainly gave them a hard game, but it was Liverpool who emerged victorious in the end after sweeping Leverkusen off with a 6-3 scoreline. Monaco, arguably the best team in France at the moment, came next in the Quarter Finals, but were soon eliminated after Liverpool put 3 goals past them in the second leg of the tie. A familiar foe in the form of Manchester City was the last challenge before the Final, but they too fell to Liverpool's brilliance.
: Rulli; Clyne, Balanta, Umtiti, Alaba; Romero, Henderson, Ward-Prowse; Balotelli, Sterling; Zivkovic
: Steele, Joseph, Aubry, Turan, Gerrard, Moreyra, Coutinho
Brendan Rodgers has gone all out, picking a lineup filled with little surprises as he aims to dissect the force that is Real Madrid. A surprise exclusion though, is attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who misses out on a starting place. Instead, Raheem Sterling will move from his usual wing position to support Richairo Zivkovic directly, while Mario Balotelli, Jordan Henderson, and James Ward-Prowse forms an offensive midfield trio. Lucas Romero is also handed a start ahead of Steven Gerrard and Yannis Aubry, and the Argentine will be expected to provide extra protection for a back four that has kept 42 clean sheets in all competitions this season.
Real Madrid came into Group C with an air of confidence, not expecting to face much difficulty against the likes of Zenit, Standard, and PSV Eindhoven. However, they were shockingly defeated by Zenit in one game and eventually finished 2nd in the group on goal difference behind their Russian opponents.
They did not let their group stage disappointment affect them though, as Real made quick work of their First Round opponents, sending Juventus off early with a 3-0 win. Zenit returned to haunt them in the Quarter Finals, but Real got the revenge that they wanted in a crushing 6-1 victory. The Semi Finals set up an El Clasico between Los Blancos and rivals Barcelona, and more goals were to follow as Barca got slayed after conceding 5 goals in the first leg.
: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Tielemans; Bale, Rodriguez, Savitskiy; Ronaldo
: Casillas, Nkoulou, Marquinhos, Modric, Isco, Dos Santos, Lacazette
Andre Villas-Boas has pulled no punches with his starting eleven either. Real's back four is a four-man defensive partnership that has lasted for years and won the club multiple honors, while a dream forward line of Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Pavel Savitskiy, and Cristiano Ronaldo attack up front. The four Real Madrid men share a phenomenal number of 93 goals scored between them this season in all competitions.Veteran midfielder Luka Modric and the ever-consistent Isco are both also relegated to the bench, with their place in the lineup going to young Belgian star Youri Tielemans.
0' - There goes the referee's whistle, and Liverpool kick off the 2019 Champions League Final.
10' - Toni Kroos hits a frighteningly powerful shot that beats Liverpool goalkeeper Jeronimo Rulli, but it also grazes the crossbar and Cristiano Ronaldo fails to get on the rebound, as Samuel Umtiti wastes no time in clearing the ball away.
21' - GOAL! Real Madrid take the lead through Ronaldo! James Rodriguez has his feet on the ball and makes a fantastic cross into the Liverpool box, with his captain promptly beating Umtiti to it to score a wonderful finish.
Real Madrid captain Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates wildly as he scores to make it 1-0
26' - Jordan Henderson plays the ball to Raheem Sterling, and the Liverpool winger finds himself in an extremely comfortable position to go for glory. That is exactly what he does, but Gareth Bale gets himself in the way of the ball and reclaims possession for his side.
40' - GOAL! 1-1! Liverpool execute some magnificent passing football, with the ball finding it's way to the feet of David Alaba, then James Ward-Prowse and Sterling, with the latter making a back heel pass to the waiting Richairo Zivkovic, and the Dutch striker dances his way past Sergio Ramos to beat Keylor Navas.
Richairo Zivkovic equalizes for Liverpool to level the score
43' - A big chance for Real as Ronaldo hits a beautiful through ball to Pavel Savitskiy, who has completely left Nathaniel Clyne behind in his run. The Belarus international attempts to hit home but Rulli makes a great save to deny him.
45' - HT: Liverpool 1-1 Real Madrid. It's all square at the Olympiastadion so far with both sides constantly wrestling possession away from each other. It's been an exciting first half, and the next 45 minutes will probably be even better.
45' - Real Madrid kick off the second half of the Champions League Final.
62' - Holy Mother of God! What a save by Rulli! A swinging Real Madrid free kick into the Liverpool box finds Rodriguez, who surges past Clyne to knock the ball over to Savitskiy. At barely three meters away from the net, it is impossible for Savitskiy not to score, but Rulli's fast reflexes kick themselves into action, as the Premier League Golden Glove recipient makes a dive to the side to block the close-range effort.
85' - GOAL! With just 6 minutes left on the clock! Umtiti rises highest to meet Ward-Prowse's corner, and Navas cannot get to the Frenchman's header in time. Is this the winning goal?!
Marcelo can only look on in horror as his own goal ensures Liverpool's victory
90' - OWN GOAL! Disaster for Real Madrid! Liverpool's super sub Alejandro Moreyra receives a pass from Ward-Prowse and shoots it towards goal. Navas gets to the ball this time, but in a silly turn of events, it rebounds off Marcelo to result in an own goal. There is no doubt about it, Liverpool are your Champions League winners!
90' - FT: Liverpool 3-1 Real Madrid. That's it! Liverpool's eighth European Cup, and their fifth trophy of the season! What a game!