The stage is set. May 28, 2022, in the Stade de France in Paris. Liverpool vs. Real Madrid, La Liga vs. The Premier League, Klopp vs. Ancelotti, Benzema vs. Salah, we are in for possibly one of the greatest UEFA Champions League (UCL) finals in history. How did both teams conquer an array of European oppositions to make it to the pinnacle of cup competitions? Let’s take a look.
Liverpool began the campaign in group B of the 32-team competition, going up against the likes of Atletico Madrid (Spain), Porto (Portugal), and AC Milan (Italy). Historically, the names of the teams would make it seem to be the group of death, but this was far from the case. Liverpool made light work of the oppositions, winning all six of the games with an aggregate score of 17-6.
When the knockout stages began, Madrid drew Paris Saint-German (France) in the round of 16, while Liverpool got Inter Milan. It was a PSG vs Madrid clash in France for the 1st leg, with the Parisians coming out on top by 1-0, scored by future Real forward, Kylian Mbappe. They were dominated. Marco Verratti ran the show, stifling Madrid from starting/continuing attacking build-ups, but it was all to play for at the Bernabeu.
What happened to Madrid after being outplayed in the previous encounter? Karim Benzema. After going behind again in the game to another Kylian Mbappe goal, things got tense. After an inspired substitution by Carlo Ancelotti to replace Toni Kroos with Eduardo Camavinga, everything clicked. Karim Benzema scored a 15-minute hat-trick to turn the tie on its head. The final whistle blew to the delight of the Spaniards winning the match 3-1, and 3-2 overall.
In the game at Anfield, Benfica scored 5 goals. Unfortunately for them, two were offside which meant they were disallowed. Liverpool never gave up and scored three of their own to give an end to an enthralling game. Next up: the semifinals. Liverpool vs. Villarreal in one and the other consists of English champions Manchester City against the newly crowned Spanish champions Real Madrid.
Villarreal, or as they are commonly known as, the Yellow Submarine, was a pushover losing 2-0 to Liverpool for them to have one foot in the final. In the other semi, it was end-to-end, leaving fans, pundits, and commentators breathless alike. City ended up with the advantage of 4-3, but as previously shown in the competition, Real Madrid is never out.
As expected Liverpool put both feet in the final with a come from behind 3-2 win. A bright start to the game was not capitalized on by the Yellow Submarine as they crumbled in the 2nd half and conceded three goals in 12 minutes, crashing out of the final four.
When it was looking like the comeback was not possible this time, that man Karim Benzema had his say. In the 90th and final minute, a deep cross from Camavinga was diverted by Benzema into the path of the onrushing Brazilian Rodrygo to give some hope for Ancelotti’s side.
A quickfire 91 SECONDS later the Brazilian got his second to level the tie and send it to extra-time. At the start of the additional period, a mistimed challenge by Ruben Dias gave Real a penalty. Karim face-to-face with shot-stopper Ederson coolly dispatched the penalty into the bottom corner to give his team the lead and the eventual win.
Karim Benzema ©
Virgil Van Dijk
Jordan Henderson ©
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