From the moment the players walk onto the pitch to hear that iconic anthem, the Champions League stirs emotions in a way that few club football competitions manage to do.
Next weekend, Paris will have the honour of staging the final of Europe’s elite tournament for the third time. The 2006 Final was the last time the Champions League Final was held at the Stade de France, as Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1, but Lionel Messi sat out the game with a hamstring injury.
This season’s edition will see Liverpool collide with Real Madrid in what will be a repeat of the 2018 Final, and as far as Liverpool are concerned, they will have a score to settle.
Four years ago, Real Madrid cruised to a 3-1 victory in which the Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius made a huge blunder while Gareth Bale bagged a double, including a sublime overhead kick into the top corner of the net.
The Stade de France will be the perfect setting for the Champions League Final as it has a capacity of just over 81,000 and the stadium’s acoustics will help to create a special atmosphere.
Liverpool has underlined the point that the Premier League is arguably the strongest league in the world and the Reds will be on the precipice of history. They could well be looking to complete the fourth leg of an unprecedented Quadruple should they pinch the league title from Manchester City.
In terms of the Champions League this season, the Merseysiders have been prolific, netting 30 times, with only Bayern Munich (31) scoring more. Liverpool though have matched Bayern in the possession department with an average of 60.1% possession.
Across the whole competition, 124 matches have been played and a total of 379 goals have been scored at an average of just over three per game, which illustrates the absorbing nature of the Champions League. Of the goals scored, the bulk of the goals (58) were netted between the 76th and 90th minute of games illustrating the late drama that can ensue.
Real Madrid will of course be standing in Liverpool’s way of a seventh Champions League crown. Los Blancos are the competition’s most successful team with 13 titles to their name and incumbent Carlo Ancelotti will be aiming to be the most decorated coach with five Champions League winners medals.
Real boasts one of the sharpest shooters in Europe this season, with Karim Benzema netting 15 goals in the Champions League (over 50% of his side’s tally of 28), and he will be a threat from set-pieces and he has elevated himself to new heights.
Of course, the Champions League makes for unmissable viewing and there will be fans all over the world, including Bangladesh, who will be glued to their TV screens. Both these sides historically are behemoths in the game and aside from the fans, bookmakers will be rushing to advertise the latest odds. Indeed, online betting sites in Bangladesh will have a wide variety of markets, such as Correct Score, First Goalscorer or Total Corners Over/Under to appeal to bettors.
To a certain extent, Real Madrid has had a couple of close shaves in the Champions League against Chelsea and Manchester City and they have some flattered to deceive. Liverpool, of course, will not have forgotten 2018 in a hurry. This has all the ingredients to be a classic and we can’t wait to see how it all unfolds in Paris.