The Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool will not only feature two of Europe’s top teams. It will also highlight the best strikers in the world at the moment.
It’s been years now that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominated soccer. When it came to the Champions League, the odds were very good that either one of these players would be contesting the trophy.
This season has seen Messi and Ronaldo overshadowed by other strikers, particularly Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. It should come as no surprise that both these players will be contesting the Champions League in this year’s final scheduled for May 28 at the Stade de France in Paris.
It’s the type of game where the outcome could very well determine which player is awarded the Ballon d’Or as Europe’s best player when the prize is handed out in October.
Fans are in for a treat with the matchup in the Champions League final
It’s true that soccer is a team sport, but it’s the individuals that can carry a side. In that case, both Benzema and Salah are the ones who did just that for their respective clubs for much of this season.
A look at the stats reveals that Benzema will win the title of UCL top scorer this season. His 15 goals lead the way. The only other player who could catch him is Salah who is at eight.
Overall, Benzema has tallied 43 goals in 43 games, an impressive pace that took place across the UCL and La Liga, making him the early odds-on favorite to win the Ballon d’Or. Salah has scored 30 goals in 45 games, which includes 22 in the Premier League.
Salah has said he wants to take on Real in the final, a game that is a rematch of the 2018 title match win by the Spanish giants.
“I want to play Madrid,” he told BT Sport after Liverpool sealed a 5-2 aggregate semifinal win over Villarreal on Tuesday. “I have to be honest. City is a really tough team, we play against them a few times this season. But if you ask me personally I would prefer Madrid.”
Real Madrid, meanwhile, got the best of Manchester City 6-5 on aggregate Wednesday in a game that needed extra time to get a winner.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, following their quarterfinal win against defending European champions Chelsea, admitted the team is “dependent on Benzema” to generate offense.
“That’s how it is, we are not going to deny it,” he added. “And I’m very happy that we are dependent on Karim. It’s a reality, and it’s a good thing.”