Liverpool v Real Madrid - Champions League Final: Road to Paris

25 May 2022 21:49:24 GMTPlus10
Karim Benzema is the leading scorer this season's Champions League

It's been a long road of thrills and spills for both Liverpool and Real Madrid on their way to Saturday night's Champions League final in Paris.

At times it looked like both clubs would fall short in their dream of reaching the showpiece event in the French capital.

With the big night at the Stade de France fast approaching, now is the time to look back on what lengths the Reds and Los Blancos had to go to on their way to Paris.

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Liverpool made group statement

Becoming the first English club to win all six of their Champions League group games, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool really put down a marker in the pool stages this season.

Reds supporters might well have winced when the draw was confirmed, as Liverpool were drawn in a formidable group with the likes of Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and FC Porto.

Klopp's side, who are favourites at 8/15 to lift the trophy on Saturday, faced the challenge head on and cruised their way past all three sides home and away, scoring 17 goals in the process and only conceding six.

Reds show character in tense knockouts

Into the round of 16, and it was Inter Milan who provided Klopp's side with their toughest test of the European campaign at that time.

Late goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool a strong advantage after the first leg at Anfield but Inter responded by taking a 1-0 lead at the San Siro in the second leg.

A red card for Alexis Sanchez just two minutes after the 61st-minute goal from Lautaro Martinez certainly helped the Reds just edge their way over the line with a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.

Liverpool in the end made light work of Benfica in the quarter-finals, with the Reds running out 3-1 winners in Portugal for the first leg before a 3-3 draw at Anfield.

The Merseyside outfit then marched on to the semi-finals when they arguably had their resolve tested more than at any moment in the competition so far.

Liverpool saw a 2-0 lead after the first leg at Anfield vanish in the first half of the second leg at Villarreal.

It was an important half-time team talk for Klopp at the Estadio de la Ceramica and his side produced an impressive second 45 minutes to win the match 3-2.

After just missing out on the Premier League title by a single point on a dramatic final day of the domestic season, Klopp's men will be determined to finish the season on a high with what would be a seventh European Cup in the club's history.

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A bumpy road for Real

It was not the most convincing of starts from the La Liga giants, as they suffered a 2-1 defeat in their first home game of the group stage against Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol.

Carlo Ancelotti's side, who are 6/4 to lift the Champions League trophy this weekend, did manage to bounce back from the shock defeat and won all of their other five games in the group which also included Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Masters of the great escape

If Real do win the Champions League this season it will have to be regarded as one of the most remarkable runs to the trophy in the tournament's history.

Two goals down on aggregate going into the final half hour of their second leg against Paris Saint-Germain and it looked like Real were dropping out of the competition with a whimper in the round of 16.

Then up stepped talisman Karim Benzema with a remarkable 17-minute hat-trick to secure a famous win and send Lionel Messi and co packing.

The drama was to continue in the quarter-finals, with Real behind by a goal going into the last 10 minutes of the second leg against Chelsea.

Rodrygo found a leveller in the 80th minute, before Benzema struck again in extra-time to send Los Blancos through to the semis.

The biggest upset was still to come against Manchester City, who looked for the world like they were about to earn a place in the Champions League final for the second year running.

Rodrygo again popping up with two injury-time goals at the Santiago Bernabeu to take the second leg into extra-time, before Benzema broke City hearts with a 95th minute penalty.

Final stop…Paris

Real Madrid have been the cat with nine lives on their way to this season's final and the question will be have they used up all their luck on the incredible journey to Paris?

Liverpool have been tested at times on their route to Saturday's game but nowhere near as much as their Spanish opponents.

The last time these sides met in a Champions League final was back in 2018, with Real running out 3-1 winners in Kiev.

Revenge will be on the minds of Liverpool supporters going into this one and the Reds faithful are 19/20 to see their side win the match in 90 minutes.

Underdogs Real are 13/5 to secure a win in regular time to complete a fairytale story, while a draw to take the final into extra-time and possibly beyond is currently 11/4.

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