Liverpool and Real Madrid, boasting 20 Champions League titles between them, will battle it out for supremacy in an epic battle of European football greats.
Tuesday’s match at Anfield is also a repeat of last year’s final, which saw Madrid come from behind to win it for an unprecedented 14th time after making an incredible 13 comebacks to reach the European showpiece at Stade de France.
“I still shake my head and scratch my head,” said former England coach and BT Sport analyst Glenn Hoddle.
“I covered each game and I still don’t understand how they managed to win it. They were out.”
Madrid had come from behind to defeat PSG, Chelsea, and Manchester City in each of the knockout rounds before defeating Liverpool 1-0 in the final.
“They were like boxers, up against the ropes and halfway down them – you’d think that’s when the ref would step in and stop the bout,” Hoddle recalled.
“I don’t know what happened, but they just kept moving forward – that was their quality.”
Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp admitted he couldn’t bring himself to watch the final defeat, feeling it to be “torture”.
Klopp revealed at a Monday press conference that Real Madrid experienced “different things.” He added, “Different circumstances occurred with Real Madrid.”
“One of the largest clubs in history, with an unparalleled amount of experience.”
“Our own story: we played this final in Paris last year. I didn’t watch it back until this weekend and now understand why: it was pure torture!”
“We played a good game and could’ve won, but Madrid scored the decisive goal and we didn’t. You could tell how experienced they are.”
At the Champions League, Madrid appears to have everything in their grasp after taking home three consecutive titles from 2016-18 when Barcelona was dominating the Spanish title race.
Liverpool may not have Madrid’s legendary ability to create the unexpected in European club football’s most coveted competition, but no team can rival its creativity.
There was the historic comeback from 3-0 down against AC Milan in 2005 to win on penalties, and more recently Barcelona’s 4-3 aggregate victory in 2019 after falling behind 3-0 in the first leg at the Nou Camp.
Since their draw last November, Real Madrid has felt a step too far.
Liverpool is in a difficult position, having to fight just to secure qualification for next season’s competition, let alone winning it this year.
Klopp has struggled to regain his team’s form since Sadio Mane’s departure from Bayern Munich last summer and the addition of multiple injuries.
Klopp can take heart from his recent rise in form after back-to-back wins against Everton and Newcastle in the Premier League, including goals from misfiring forwards Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez.
Liverpool is back in contention for a Champions League qualifying spot, sitting seven points off fourth-place Tottenham with two games left to play.