Welcome to live coverage of the 2022 Champions League final, the 67th in all since it was inaugurated as the European Cup, and the third between Real Madrid and Liverpool, the first time two clubs have met three times in the final of the continent’s premier club competition.
Liverpool begin their quest for a seventh title, which would elevate them above Bayern Munich in joint-third place to join Milan in equal second, while Real Madrid are gunning for a 14th, double the number won by the Rossoneri which would take their winning record to 21 per cent. What about that for a record. Since 1956 they would have won more than a fifth of all finals, essentially European champions roughly once every five years since the competition started.
Speaking of seventh triumphs, it was, you will recall, in the City of Lights that Liverpool delayed Real Madrid from winning their seventh for a further 17 years when Barney Rubble, AKA Alan Kennedy, controlled the late Ray Kennedy’s throw-in, bustled towards the box and thrashed that unstoppable riser past Agustín in 1981.
Real Madrid had their revenge in Kyiv 37 years later by ‘virtue’ of Mohamed Salah’s injury inflicted by Sergio Ramos, two handling errors from Loris Karius that may or many not have been the result of concussion – and if it was Liverpool should have substituted him – and a truly gobsmacking goal, arguably the best in the final’s history, from Gareth Bale who starts tonight on the bench just as he did in Ukraine four years ago.
This is the first time since 1998 when they went into the final under Jupp Heynckes, having finished fourth in La Liga and with an openly seditious dressing room, that Real start as underdogs. It is easy to see why. Liverpool, with their stellar front three, whichever of the five he picks, moving in mesmerising patterns, play-maker full-backs, one with his marauding runs, the other with the most expansive range of passing, a world-class keeper and centre-half plus the great Fabinho, are worthy favourites. They are tougher than they were in 2018, more savvy and have more talent in three areas: midfield, alongside Virgil van Dijk (well as Dejan Lovren played in Kyiv) and between the sticks.