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Second out, round three

Liverpool and Real Madrid share an illustrious history in this competition, not least the two previous occasions that they’ve met each other in the final. It’s currently one win apiece; Graham Hunter revisits the drama and contemplates the rematch


This, the third European Cup final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, is the second in the French capital. It’s a different stadium compared to 1981, but the same old rivalry between two clubs from two cities that could barely be more different. One is a cosmopolitan international hub, the land-locked capital of a geographically huge country that’s also the seat of government. The other is a culturally vibrant, music-obsessed port, with seven times fewer inhabitants. But what unites Liverpool and Madrid is a craving, a ceaseless need to be champions of Europe. And here they are again.

Are there direct footballing influences on this game from the first final in which they met? No. But that match in the Parc des Princes oozes with memories and iconic images whose tendrils reach out across the decades, hauling us back to 1981.

Both sides were packed with names and faces who’ll live forever in their respective histories. Spain’s champions fielded Vicente del Bosque, La Roja’s subsequent World Cup and European Championship-winning coach. Around him were José Antonio Camacho, Santillana, Uli Stielike, Ángel – and two sadly departed mischievous wingers: Laurie Cunningham and the explosive Juanito.

Who were the men from Anfield? Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott, a couple of Kennedys and the late, much missed, Ray Clemence. Del Bosque, so successful as a coach with a couple of Champions League wins in charge of Madrid (2000 and 2002), has often recalled the tough, tense match. That and the disappointment of losing 1-0, which made it 15 years since Los Blancos had last won the trophy that they consider their own. He told El País: “Those were much more austere times for the club, which made even reaching the final a big success. When we came in after losing 1-0, really hacked off and down in the dumps, the president Luis de Carlos surprised us by saying, ‘Don’t worry about this….’ And he paid us a win bonus anyway, even though we lost, which was wonderful because in those days our wages weren’t all that great.”


Souness, speaking about that night, said: “We were horrible to play against. The game was a war of attrition. They took us on physically and we met fire with fire. The pitch was cutting up. They were frightened of us. Madrid didn’t make a game of it.”

Kyiv, 37 years later, was different in almost every aspect. Madrid, like this year, arrived at the final via one of the most tortuous, imposing and impressive routes possible. That Zinédine Zidane team knocked out Paris Saint-German, Juventus and Bayern München. No mean feat. Liverpool, for their part, scored an incredible 17 goals in their three knockout ties before the final. So why did that final play out like it did? Was it because of the events that seemed to pile up against Liverpool? Mo Salah’s injury and absence after only half an hour, Loris Karius’s shakiness and hesitancy following a collision with Sergio Ramos… The fact remains that Madrid produced a couple of remarkable moments to win, just when they most needed creative inspiration.

The 1981 showdown arguably had just one mega moment (Alan Kennedy’s crazy-horse run and goal), but the Ukrainian capital deluged us with them. The first one came from Karim Benzema, not just one of the most prolific strikers in the world but perhaps the smartest too. He struck to score one of the cheekiest, most streetwise goals in the 60-plus years of this tournament. Running in hope rather than expectation, he snaffled a badly chosen throw-out from Liverpool’s goalkeeper; sticking out his right leg, he anticipated the direction of the ball and deflected it back into the net.

So Madrid led and, while Sadio Mané pegged them back, Los Blancos never acted as if defeat were even imaginable. Then, three minutes after he entered the fray, came Gareth Bale’s ‘Golazo!’ moment: the Welshman launched himself into the Ukrainian night and bicycle-kicked his way into history. Not only did that turn the match irrevocably in Madrid’s favour, but it was also, truly, one of the all-time great goals in well over 60 years of UEFA football.

And so to round three. Are you driven by statistics? Liverpool have not beaten Los Blancos in their past five attempts; Madrid haven’t lost the final of a UEFA knockout tournament (all nine of them) since 1983 (against Aberdeen in the Cup Winners’ Cup). But the winners will surely be decided by whether Madrid’s superb Thibaut Courtois, probably in the season of his life, can keep Jürgen Klopp’s extravagantly gifted forwards at bay. That and how Liverpool cope with blunting the Vinícius-Benzema partnership, which is within touching distance of 100 goals and assists between them this season alone.

It’s Paris and we have two European aristocrats in front of us.

This is an edited version of an article that features in the Champions League final programme. To receive a free copy of the programme with issue 12 of Champions Journal, subscribe now


This, the third European Cup final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, is the second in the French capital. It’s a different stadium compared to 1981, but the same old rivalry between two clubs from two cities that could barely be more different. One is a cosmopolitan international hub, the land-locked capital of a geographically huge country that’s also the seat of government. The other is a culturally vibrant, music-obsessed port, with seven times fewer inhabitants. But what unites Liverpool and Madrid is a craving, a ceaseless need to be champions of Europe. And here they are again.

Are there direct footballing influences on this game from the first final in which they met? No. But that match in the Parc des Princes oozes with memories and iconic images whose tendrils reach out across the decades, hauling us back to 1981.

Both sides were packed with names and faces who’ll live forever in their respective histories. Spain’s champions fielded Vicente del Bosque, La Roja’s subsequent World Cup and European Championship-winning coach. Around him were José Antonio Camacho, Santillana, Uli Stielike, Ángel – and two sadly departed mischievous wingers: Laurie Cunningham and the explosive Juanito.

Who were the men from Anfield? Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott, a couple of Kennedys and the late, much missed, Ray Clemence. Del Bosque, so successful as a coach with a couple of Champions League wins in charge of Madrid (2000 and 2002), has often recalled the tough, tense match. That and the disappointment of losing 1-0, which made it 15 years since Los Blancos had last won the trophy that they consider their own. He told El País: “Those were much more austere times for the club, which made even reaching the final a big success. When we came in after losing 1-0, really hacked off and down in the dumps, the president Luis de Carlos surprised us by saying, ‘Don’t worry about this….’ And he paid us a win bonus anyway, even though we lost, which was wonderful because in those days our wages weren’t all that great.”


Souness, speaking about that night, said: “We were horrible to play against. The game was a war of attrition. They took us on physically and we met fire with fire. The pitch was cutting up. They were frightened of us. Madrid didn’t make a game of it.”

Kyiv, 37 years later, was different in almost every aspect. Madrid, like this year, arrived at the final via one of the most tortuous, imposing and impressive routes possible. That Zinédine Zidane team knocked out Paris Saint-German, Juventus and Bayern München. No mean feat. Liverpool, for their part, scored an incredible 17 goals in their three knockout ties before the final. So why did that final play out like it did? Was it because of the events that seemed to pile up against Liverpool? Mo Salah’s injury and absence after only half an hour, Loris Karius’s shakiness and hesitancy following a collision with Sergio Ramos… The fact remains that Madrid produced a couple of remarkable moments to win, just when they most needed creative inspiration.

The 1981 showdown arguably had just one mega moment (Alan Kennedy’s crazy-horse run and goal), but the Ukrainian capital deluged us with them. The first one came from Karim Benzema, not just one of the most prolific strikers in the world but perhaps the smartest too. He struck to score one of the cheekiest, most streetwise goals in the 60-plus years of this tournament. Running in hope rather than expectation, he snaffled a badly chosen throw-out from Liverpool’s goalkeeper; sticking out his right leg, he anticipated the direction of the ball and deflected it back into the net.

So Madrid led and, while Sadio Mané pegged them back, Los Blancos never acted as if defeat were even imaginable. Then, three minutes after he entered the fray, came Gareth Bale’s ‘Golazo!’ moment: the Welshman launched himself into the Ukrainian night and bicycle-kicked his way into history. Not only did that turn the match irrevocably in Madrid’s favour, but it was also, truly, one of the all-time great goals in well over 60 years of UEFA football.

And so to round three. Are you driven by statistics? Liverpool have not beaten Los Blancos in their past five attempts; Madrid haven’t lost the final of a UEFA knockout tournament (all nine of them) since 1983 (against Aberdeen in the Cup Winners’ Cup). But the winners will surely be decided by whether Madrid’s superb Thibaut Courtois, probably in the season of his life, can keep Jürgen Klopp’s extravagantly gifted forwards at bay. That and how Liverpool cope with blunting the Vinícius-Benzema partnership, which is within touching distance of 100 goals and assists between them this season alone.

It’s Paris and we have two European aristocrats in front of us.

This is an edited version of an article that features in the Champions League final programme. To receive a free copy of the programme with issue 12 of Champions Journal, subscribe now

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!


This, the third European Cup final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, is the second in the French capital. It’s a different stadium compared to 1981, but the same old rivalry between two clubs from two cities that could barely be more different. One is a cosmopolitan international hub, the land-locked capital of a geographically huge country that’s also the seat of government. The other is a culturally vibrant, music-obsessed port, with seven times fewer inhabitants. But what unites Liverpool and Madrid is a craving, a ceaseless need to be champions of Europe. And here they are again.

Are there direct footballing influences on this game from the first final in which they met? No. But that match in the Parc des Princes oozes with memories and iconic images whose tendrils reach out across the decades, hauling us back to 1981.

Both sides were packed with names and faces who’ll live forever in their respective histories. Spain’s champions fielded Vicente del Bosque, La Roja’s subsequent World Cup and European Championship-winning coach. Around him were José Antonio Camacho, Santillana, Uli Stielike, Ángel – and two sadly departed mischievous wingers: Laurie Cunningham and the explosive Juanito.

Who were the men from Anfield? Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott, a couple of Kennedys and the late, much missed, Ray Clemence. Del Bosque, so successful as a coach with a couple of Champions League wins in charge of Madrid (2000 and 2002), has often recalled the tough, tense match. That and the disappointment of losing 1-0, which made it 15 years since Los Blancos had last won the trophy that they consider their own. He told El País: “Those were much more austere times for the club, which made even reaching the final a big success. When we came in after losing 1-0, really hacked off and down in the dumps, the president Luis de Carlos surprised us by saying, ‘Don’t worry about this….’ And he paid us a win bonus anyway, even though we lost, which was wonderful because in those days our wages weren’t all that great.”


Souness, speaking about that night, said: “We were horrible to play against. The game was a war of attrition. They took us on physically and we met fire with fire. The pitch was cutting up. They were frightened of us. Madrid didn’t make a game of it.”

Kyiv, 37 years later, was different in almost every aspect. Madrid, like this year, arrived at the final via one of the most tortuous, imposing and impressive routes possible. That Zinédine Zidane team knocked out Paris Saint-German, Juventus and Bayern München. No mean feat. Liverpool, for their part, scored an incredible 17 goals in their three knockout ties before the final. So why did that final play out like it did? Was it because of the events that seemed to pile up against Liverpool? Mo Salah’s injury and absence after only half an hour, Loris Karius’s shakiness and hesitancy following a collision with Sergio Ramos… The fact remains that Madrid produced a couple of remarkable moments to win, just when they most needed creative inspiration.

The 1981 showdown arguably had just one mega moment (Alan Kennedy’s crazy-horse run and goal), but the Ukrainian capital deluged us with them. The first one came from Karim Benzema, not just one of the most prolific strikers in the world but perhaps the smartest too. He struck to score one of the cheekiest, most streetwise goals in the 60-plus years of this tournament. Running in hope rather than expectation, he snaffled a badly chosen throw-out from Liverpool’s goalkeeper; sticking out his right leg, he anticipated the direction of the ball and deflected it back into the net.

So Madrid led and, while Sadio Mané pegged them back, Los Blancos never acted as if defeat were even imaginable. Then, three minutes after he entered the fray, came Gareth Bale’s ‘Golazo!’ moment: the Welshman launched himself into the Ukrainian night and bicycle-kicked his way into history. Not only did that turn the match irrevocably in Madrid’s favour, but it was also, truly, one of the all-time great goals in well over 60 years of UEFA football.

And so to round three. Are you driven by statistics? Liverpool have not beaten Los Blancos in their past five attempts; Madrid haven’t lost the final of a UEFA knockout tournament (all nine of them) since 1983 (against Aberdeen in the Cup Winners’ Cup). But the winners will surely be decided by whether Madrid’s superb Thibaut Courtois, probably in the season of his life, can keep Jürgen Klopp’s extravagantly gifted forwards at bay. That and how Liverpool cope with blunting the Vinícius-Benzema partnership, which is within touching distance of 100 goals and assists between them this season alone.

It’s Paris and we have two European aristocrats in front of us.

This is an edited version of an article that features in the Champions League final programme. To receive a free copy of the programme with issue 12 of Champions Journal, subscribe now

Second out, round three
Blog

Second out, round three

Liverpool and Real Madrid share an illustrious history in this competition, not least the two previous occasions that they’ve met each other in the final. It’s currently one win apiece; Graham Hunter revisits the drama and contemplates the rematch


This, the third European Cup final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, is the second in the French capital. It’s a different stadium compared to 1981, but the same old rivalry between two clubs from two cities that could barely be more different. One is a cosmopolitan international hub, the land-locked capital of a geographically huge country that’s also the seat of government. The other is a culturally vibrant, music-obsessed port, with seven times fewer inhabitants. But what unites Liverpool and Madrid is a craving, a ceaseless need to be champions of Europe. And here they are again.

Are there direct footballing influences on this game from the first final in which they met? No. But that match in the Parc des Princes oozes with memories and iconic images whose tendrils reach out across the decades, hauling us back to 1981.

Both sides were packed with names and faces who’ll live forever in their respective histories. Spain’s champions fielded Vicente del Bosque, La Roja’s subsequent World Cup and European Championship-winning coach. Around him were José Antonio Camacho, Santillana, Uli Stielike, Ángel – and two sadly departed mischievous wingers: Laurie Cunningham and the explosive Juanito.

Who were the men from Anfield? Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott, a couple of Kennedys and the late, much missed, Ray Clemence. Del Bosque, so successful as a coach with a couple of Champions League wins in charge of Madrid (2000 and 2002), has often recalled the tough, tense match. That and the disappointment of losing 1-0, which made it 15 years since Los Blancos had last won the trophy that they consider their own. He told El País: “Those were much more austere times for the club, which made even reaching the final a big success. When we came in after losing 1-0, really hacked off and down in the dumps, the president Luis de Carlos surprised us by saying, ‘Don’t worry about this….’ And he paid us a win bonus anyway, even though we lost, which was wonderful because in those days our wages weren’t all that great.”


Souness, speaking about that night, said: “We were horrible to play against. The game was a war of attrition. They took us on physically and we met fire with fire. The pitch was cutting up. They were frightened of us. Madrid didn’t make a game of it.”

Kyiv, 37 years later, was different in almost every aspect. Madrid, like this year, arrived at the final via one of the most tortuous, imposing and impressive routes possible. That Zinédine Zidane team knocked out Paris Saint-German, Juventus and Bayern München. No mean feat. Liverpool, for their part, scored an incredible 17 goals in their three knockout ties before the final. So why did that final play out like it did? Was it because of the events that seemed to pile up against Liverpool? Mo Salah’s injury and absence after only half an hour, Loris Karius’s shakiness and hesitancy following a collision with Sergio Ramos… The fact remains that Madrid produced a couple of remarkable moments to win, just when they most needed creative inspiration.

The 1981 showdown arguably had just one mega moment (Alan Kennedy’s crazy-horse run and goal), but the Ukrainian capital deluged us with them. The first one came from Karim Benzema, not just one of the most prolific strikers in the world but perhaps the smartest too. He struck to score one of the cheekiest, most streetwise goals in the 60-plus years of this tournament. Running in hope rather than expectation, he snaffled a badly chosen throw-out from Liverpool’s goalkeeper; sticking out his right leg, he anticipated the direction of the ball and deflected it back into the net.

So Madrid led and, while Sadio Mané pegged them back, Los Blancos never acted as if defeat were even imaginable. Then, three minutes after he entered the fray, came Gareth Bale’s ‘Golazo!’ moment: the Welshman launched himself into the Ukrainian night and bicycle-kicked his way into history. Not only did that turn the match irrevocably in Madrid’s favour, but it was also, truly, one of the all-time great goals in well over 60 years of UEFA football.

And so to round three. Are you driven by statistics? Liverpool have not beaten Los Blancos in their past five attempts; Madrid haven’t lost the final of a UEFA knockout tournament (all nine of them) since 1983 (against Aberdeen in the Cup Winners’ Cup). But the winners will surely be decided by whether Madrid’s superb Thibaut Courtois, probably in the season of his life, can keep Jürgen Klopp’s extravagantly gifted forwards at bay. That and how Liverpool cope with blunting the Vinícius-Benzema partnership, which is within touching distance of 100 goals and assists between them this season alone.

It’s Paris and we have two European aristocrats in front of us.

This is an edited version of an article that features in the Champions League final programme. To receive a free copy of the programme with issue 12 of Champions Journal, subscribe now

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.


This, the third European Cup final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, is the second in the French capital. It’s a different stadium compared to 1981, but the same old rivalry between two clubs from two cities that could barely be more different. One is a cosmopolitan international hub, the land-locked capital of a geographically huge country that’s also the seat of government. The other is a culturally vibrant, music-obsessed port, with seven times fewer inhabitants. But what unites Liverpool and Madrid is a craving, a ceaseless need to be champions of Europe. And here they are again.

Are there direct footballing influences on this game from the first final in which they met? No. But that match in the Parc des Princes oozes with memories and iconic images whose tendrils reach out across the decades, hauling us back to 1981.

Both sides were packed with names and faces who’ll live forever in their respective histories. Spain’s champions fielded Vicente del Bosque, La Roja’s subsequent World Cup and European Championship-winning coach. Around him were José Antonio Camacho, Santillana, Uli Stielike, Ángel – and two sadly departed mischievous wingers: Laurie Cunningham and the explosive Juanito.

Who were the men from Anfield? Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott, a couple of Kennedys and the late, much missed, Ray Clemence. Del Bosque, so successful as a coach with a couple of Champions League wins in charge of Madrid (2000 and 2002), has often recalled the tough, tense match. That and the disappointment of losing 1-0, which made it 15 years since Los Blancos had last won the trophy that they consider their own. He told El País: “Those were much more austere times for the club, which made even reaching the final a big success. When we came in after losing 1-0, really hacked off and down in the dumps, the president Luis de Carlos surprised us by saying, ‘Don’t worry about this….’ And he paid us a win bonus anyway, even though we lost, which was wonderful because in those days our wages weren’t all that great.”


Souness, speaking about that night, said: “We were horrible to play against. The game was a war of attrition. They took us on physically and we met fire with fire. The pitch was cutting up. They were frightened of us. Madrid didn’t make a game of it.”

Kyiv, 37 years later, was different in almost every aspect. Madrid, like this year, arrived at the final via one of the most tortuous, imposing and impressive routes possible. That Zinédine Zidane team knocked out Paris Saint-German, Juventus and Bayern München. No mean feat. Liverpool, for their part, scored an incredible 17 goals in their three knockout ties before the final. So why did that final play out like it did? Was it because of the events that seemed to pile up against Liverpool? Mo Salah’s injury and absence after only half an hour, Loris Karius’s shakiness and hesitancy following a collision with Sergio Ramos… The fact remains that Madrid produced a couple of remarkable moments to win, just when they most needed creative inspiration.

The 1981 showdown arguably had just one mega moment (Alan Kennedy’s crazy-horse run and goal), but the Ukrainian capital deluged us with them. The first one came from Karim Benzema, not just one of the most prolific strikers in the world but perhaps the smartest too. He struck to score one of the cheekiest, most streetwise goals in the 60-plus years of this tournament. Running in hope rather than expectation, he snaffled a badly chosen throw-out from Liverpool’s goalkeeper; sticking out his right leg, he anticipated the direction of the ball and deflected it back into the net.

So Madrid led and, while Sadio Mané pegged them back, Los Blancos never acted as if defeat were even imaginable. Then, three minutes after he entered the fray, came Gareth Bale’s ‘Golazo!’ moment: the Welshman launched himself into the Ukrainian night and bicycle-kicked his way into history. Not only did that turn the match irrevocably in Madrid’s favour, but it was also, truly, one of the all-time great goals in well over 60 years of UEFA football.

And so to round three. Are you driven by statistics? Liverpool have not beaten Los Blancos in their past five attempts; Madrid haven’t lost the final of a UEFA knockout tournament (all nine of them) since 1983 (against Aberdeen in the Cup Winners’ Cup). But the winners will surely be decided by whether Madrid’s superb Thibaut Courtois, probably in the season of his life, can keep Jürgen Klopp’s extravagantly gifted forwards at bay. That and how Liverpool cope with blunting the Vinícius-Benzema partnership, which is within touching distance of 100 goals and assists between them this season alone.

It’s Paris and we have two European aristocrats in front of us.

This is an edited version of an article that features in the Champions League final programme. To receive a free copy of the programme with issue 12 of Champions Journal, subscribe now

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!


This, the third European Cup final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, is the second in the French capital. It’s a different stadium compared to 1981, but the same old rivalry between two clubs from two cities that could barely be more different. One is a cosmopolitan international hub, the land-locked capital of a geographically huge country that’s also the seat of government. The other is a culturally vibrant, music-obsessed port, with seven times fewer inhabitants. But what unites Liverpool and Madrid is a craving, a ceaseless need to be champions of Europe. And here they are again.

Are there direct footballing influences on this game from the first final in which they met? No. But that match in the Parc des Princes oozes with memories and iconic images whose tendrils reach out across the decades, hauling us back to 1981.

Both sides were packed with names and faces who’ll live forever in their respective histories. Spain’s champions fielded Vicente del Bosque, La Roja’s subsequent World Cup and European Championship-winning coach. Around him were José Antonio Camacho, Santillana, Uli Stielike, Ángel – and two sadly departed mischievous wingers: Laurie Cunningham and the explosive Juanito.

Who were the men from Anfield? Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott, a couple of Kennedys and the late, much missed, Ray Clemence. Del Bosque, so successful as a coach with a couple of Champions League wins in charge of Madrid (2000 and 2002), has often recalled the tough, tense match. That and the disappointment of losing 1-0, which made it 15 years since Los Blancos had last won the trophy that they consider their own. He told El País: “Those were much more austere times for the club, which made even reaching the final a big success. When we came in after losing 1-0, really hacked off and down in the dumps, the president Luis de Carlos surprised us by saying, ‘Don’t worry about this….’ And he paid us a win bonus anyway, even though we lost, which was wonderful because in those days our wages weren’t all that great.”


Souness, speaking about that night, said: “We were horrible to play against. The game was a war of attrition. They took us on physically and we met fire with fire. The pitch was cutting up. They were frightened of us. Madrid didn’t make a game of it.”

Kyiv, 37 years later, was different in almost every aspect. Madrid, like this year, arrived at the final via one of the most tortuous, imposing and impressive routes possible. That Zinédine Zidane team knocked out Paris Saint-German, Juventus and Bayern München. No mean feat. Liverpool, for their part, scored an incredible 17 goals in their three knockout ties before the final. So why did that final play out like it did? Was it because of the events that seemed to pile up against Liverpool? Mo Salah’s injury and absence after only half an hour, Loris Karius’s shakiness and hesitancy following a collision with Sergio Ramos… The fact remains that Madrid produced a couple of remarkable moments to win, just when they most needed creative inspiration.

The 1981 showdown arguably had just one mega moment (Alan Kennedy’s crazy-horse run and goal), but the Ukrainian capital deluged us with them. The first one came from Karim Benzema, not just one of the most prolific strikers in the world but perhaps the smartest too. He struck to score one of the cheekiest, most streetwise goals in the 60-plus years of this tournament. Running in hope rather than expectation, he snaffled a badly chosen throw-out from Liverpool’s goalkeeper; sticking out his right leg, he anticipated the direction of the ball and deflected it back into the net.

So Madrid led and, while Sadio Mané pegged them back, Los Blancos never acted as if defeat were even imaginable. Then, three minutes after he entered the fray, came Gareth Bale’s ‘Golazo!’ moment: the Welshman launched himself into the Ukrainian night and bicycle-kicked his way into history. Not only did that turn the match irrevocably in Madrid’s favour, but it was also, truly, one of the all-time great goals in well over 60 years of UEFA football.

And so to round three. Are you driven by statistics? Liverpool have not beaten Los Blancos in their past five attempts; Madrid haven’t lost the final of a UEFA knockout tournament (all nine of them) since 1983 (against Aberdeen in the Cup Winners’ Cup). But the winners will surely be decided by whether Madrid’s superb Thibaut Courtois, probably in the season of his life, can keep Jürgen Klopp’s extravagantly gifted forwards at bay. That and how Liverpool cope with blunting the Vinícius-Benzema partnership, which is within touching distance of 100 goals and assists between them this season alone.

It’s Paris and we have two European aristocrats in front of us.

This is an edited version of an article that features in the Champions League final programme. To receive a free copy of the programme with issue 12 of Champions Journal, subscribe now

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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