It’s that time of year again! The time where we spend one Saturday afternoon in May to watch a new UEFA Champion get crowned.
This year it will be Saturday, May 26 and we have the two time reigning Champs, Real Madrid. Madrid is from the Spanish La Liga league. Their opponent, Liverpool is from the English Premier League.
Madrid is looking to become the champion for the third straight year. Liverpool is just another roadblock in the way for Madrid to do so.
Before we talk more about how Madrid is looking to make history again, let’s get some background on how these teams got here.
The UEFA Champions League is a football competition held seasonally and the top four teams in each of the UEFA associated leagues could qualify.
Like all sports, a tournament/playoff is set to decide who makes it to the championship game. For the UEFA Champions League, there are 32 teams in group stages. Each group is broken into eight competition, and each has four teams.
Each team plays each other twice in the group stages and the top two teams of each group will be randomized into the round of 16.
In fact, every round of play until the final two teams are determined is randomized.
Since UEFA was founded in 1955, twenty clubs have won the Champions League Cup. Real Madrid has won the most times (12). Madrid winning back-to-back is no surprise to the Spanish club. They won it five times from 1956 to 1960 and never planned to stop competing for more.
Of the 12, three have been in the last four years and twice against league rival, Atletico Madrid.
In 2013-14, Real’s Sergio Ramos scored late to tie the game 1-1 and send it into extra time. It was then when Real scored three goals in a 10-minute span and took a 4-1 victory to win their 10th title.
Real Madrid faced Atletico again in 2015-16, they again were tied 1-1 and went to penalties where Real won 5-3 on kicks and was lead by Cristiano Ronaldo with 16 goals in the tournament; he was the top scorer of the tournament that year.
Ronaldo was also the top scorer of last year’s UEFA Champions League as he is this year. Last year, he led Real Madrid against Italy’s Juventus 4-1. Ronaldo scored two of the four goals and didn’t stop there.
Their opponent hasn’t been as successful, but have still won five UEFA Championship titles.
Liverpool’s last title was in 2004-05 when they beat Italy’s Milan on penalties. Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard led them back from a 3-0 deficit at half-time.
Ironically, Liverpool’s third title came in 1980-81 when they defeated Real Madrid 1-0. It was Liverpool’s Alan Kennedy who scored in the 82 minute to put The Red in front. That year Liverpool was led by Terry McDermott and Graeme Souness with six goals each throughout the tournament (best by any player in the tournament).
This year Ronaldo again is the top scorer with 15 goals. Liverpool has three players in the top four in scoring. Liverpool teammates Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Saleh each have 10, and Sadio Mané had nine.
It’s Ronaldo, Ramos, and the experienced Real Madrid team versus the exciting young Liverpool team who will never walk alone!
Real Madrid has won 12 out of 15 UEFA Finals and looking to add a 13th. Liverpool has won 5 out of 7 UEFA Finals and could add their 6th.
Who do you think will win? My pick is Liverpool, and it will be the best ending to a great season like what Liverpool had.
Let us know who you will be cheering for on Saturday!
For those soccer/ Futbol fans, we promise to give you more articles to read about during the World Cup this summer! Even if your great country of USA is not in it this year.
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Featured Image: Photo Courtesy of Esatour