Bhutia predicts goal fest in Champions League final
The Los Blancos are La Liga and Spanish Super Cup champions. Fittingly enough, the two teams are set to fight it out for the Champions League title in Paris on Saturday.
Published: 26th May 2022 01:01 AM | Last Updated: 26th May 2022 01:01 AM | A+A A-
BENGALURU: Liverpool and Real Madrid have been the standout performers across Europe this season. Let their respective trophy cabinet do the talking -- the Reds have won EFL and the FA cup, and came tantalisingly close to the Premier League title, finishing a point behind champions Manchester City. The Los Blancos are La Liga and Spanish Super Cup champions. Fittingly enough, the two teams are set to fight it out for the Champions League title in Paris on Saturday.
With both the teams possessing mega stars in their squad, predicting a winner could be tricky. However, there are a number of things, which might evince, to some extent, that the Spanish giants have an edge. For instance, Liverpool have had a hectic end to the season, playing almost two matches per week for the majority of the month and more. To make it worse, some of the players like Fabinho and Thiago Alacantra suffered injured recently, which weakens their midfield significantly. Even if the former may be available, the latter looks a huge doubt.
However, the 13-time champions Real Madrid do not have major injury concerns. "If you look at Liverpool's run in the Champions League, they have been outstanding. But, I would put Real Madrid as (my) favourite. Liverpool has gone through a tight schedule and many key players like Thiago, Fabinho are injured. We saw Liverpool in the Premier League and FA cup, but we have not seen that Liverpool, which we usually see due to the tight schedule and injury. As for Real Madrid, they won the (La Liga) title much before and they had better time to rest and prepare for the final," said former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia said in a virtual interaction.
However, the outcome of the game may be eventually decided by their key players up front, and that is where the major strength of both the teams lie as well. Liverpool have scored 28 goals with Mohamed Salah scoring eight of them but they will also need the likes of Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz to shine.
As for Real Madrid, Karim Benzema has scored an incredible 15 of their 27 goals in the competition. It just goes on to show the importance of the Frenchman to Carlo Ancellotti, who will also look for the services of Vinicius Junior to penetrate Liverpool's defence. Jurgen Klopp will need defender Virgil Van Dijk, who has not featured of late due to injuries, to be at his imperious best in the last game of the season.
"I feel this final will have quite a lot of goals. If you look at their (Liverpool and Real Madrid) record in the Champions League or their respective domestic leagues, they have scored lots of goals. Both the teams play attacking football, score goals, so I am hoping that we have plenty of goals too," said Bhutia, who spoke about the importance of a fit Van Dijk in the final. "Van Dijk is going to be a very important factor for Liverpool. If he is not 100 per cent fit for the final, it is going to be a big blow, especially when you are facing an inform striker like Benzema."
Watch Champions League final LIVE on Sony Sports Network on Sunday, 12:30 am IST