2022 Champions League final picks: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool matchup to watch, likely to score, predictions
The UEFA Champions League final is finally here with Liverpool and Real Madrid meeting at Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday to decide this edition's winner. It is not the first time that the pair have met in the Paris region with their 1981 encounter at Parc des Princes a 1-0 win for the Reds while their latest UCL final finished 3-1 to Los Blancos in Kyiv.
Saturday's clash sees two of Europe's heavyweights facing off while it is still an unexpected matchup given how Manchester City were overwhelming favorites to reach a second consecutive Champions League final.
We look ahead to this one team by team and break down some of the key battles and things to watch out for in the French capital on Saturday.
How to watch and odds
Date: Saturday, May 28 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Live stream: Paramount+ (Try it free)
Location: Stade de France -- Saint-Denis, France
Studio: Kate Abdo, Thierry Henry, Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards
Commentators: Clive Tyldesley and Rob Green | Rules expert: Christina Unkel
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Forty-one years on from their inaugural battle in the beautiful city of Paris, Liverpool and Real Madrid reconvene just north of the French capital in Saint-Denis for the 2021-22 Champions League final on Saturday.
The Reds have a seventh title in Europe's primary competition in their sights this weekend, while continental veterans Los Blancos are aiming to get their hands on the trophy for a record-extending 14th time.
Jurgen Klopp’s side missed out on the title on a dramatic final day of the Premier League season, but Liverpool have already lifted the Carabao Cup and FA Cup this season and are looking to make it a hat-trick of silverware.
Liverpool will be desperate to avenge their defeat against Madrid in the 2018 final, when Mohamed Salah was forced off with injury before Gareth Bale scored a spectacular bicycle kick, but they may have to make do without Thiago Alcantara who picked up an Achilles problem last weekend.
Real Madrid have produced mesmerising comebacks against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City to reach the final, owing largely to the brilliance of Karim Benzema, and have been able to focus all their concentration on Saturday night after wrapping up the La Liga title over three weeks ago.
While Man City were busy being rocked to the core by Aston Villa and Steven Gerrard - hoping to help his former club achieve something that he never did during his days in the red jersey - a plucky Wolverhampton Wanderers side would frustrate Klopp's side and their disgruntled supporters.
The double cup winners ultimately did what they needed to do with a 3-1 success, but the Citizens' astounding turnaround against Villa ensured that the Premier League crown would remain in the grip of Pep Guardiola and leave Liverpool to rue what could have been.
Ending such a promising campaign with only two cups in the cabinet would not prove to satiate the travelling Liverpool party, and they were forced to navigate a scare against European specialist Unai Emery and his giant-killing Villarreal side in the semi-finals, but no white flags were waved at La Ceramica.
Saturday's encounter will mark the 10th time that Liverpool have appeared in the final of the European Cup/Champions League, and some may argue that they have enjoyed a relatively favourable run to the showpiece event, but as Klopp will surely stress, there are no easy fixtures in this competition.
While Inter Milan did shut out the Reds in a 1-0 Anfield win that ended up proving inconsequential, Liverpool have scored at least twice in the rest of their Champions League fixtures this term - no mean feat amid the unforgiving schedule that Klopp always has plenty to say about.
The Reds win their seventh UCL crown, getting revenge for the 2018 final, this time with a competent display in goal and Salah scoring the winner on a penalty kick. Pick: Liverpool 2, Real Madrid 1
"3-0 Madrid!" shouted one boisterous group of supporters when asked for their score predictions outside the stadium. "A Benzema hat-trick."
They know the way to win'
Claude Makelele, the former Real star and one of the most iconic midfielders of all time, is decidedly less confident.
Having won the Champions League with Los Blancos in 2002, narrowly beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1, he knows these finals don't often unfold in the way many predict.
Makelele admits his allegiances lie with Real on Saturday, but has been enthralled by the football Jürgen Klopp's team has played.
"They've made it to the final playing the way they want to play, that they have shown for the last three years," Makelele told CNN. "Coming back to the final again, it will be a different Liverpool [to the team that lost to Real in 2018] I'm sure, 100%.
"But it will also be a different Madrid. Now they play in a different way; possession, transition ... I think it will be very interesting. Liverpool are maybe small favorites but I believe with Madrid, they always play finals, they always know the way to play finals and win.