From Saint-Denis to Paris, there is only one step. From Paris to Saint-Denis, a week has passed. And the water of the Seine has not yet flowed sufficiently under the bridges for Real to have forgotten. Even if Saturday night’s meeting is the most prestigious of all, which Madrid know better than anyone on the planet, the slap received in worldview last week, when Kylian Mbappé climbed on a podium in the center of the lawn of the Park to announce that he preferred red and blue to white, left traces that will remain. But which would be damn attenuated if Karim Benzema lifted the “Decimocuarta” at the Stade de France, on a new lawn which has caused a lot of talk even though it has not yet been trodden.
Before getting there and imitating their prestigious predecessors who were first at the Stade de France and had bent the Valencian novice in 2000 (3-0), it will be necessary to offer the scalp of Liverpool. The Reds are no rookies in the matter and, if they have not won half of the C1s collected by the Merengues, the six which fill the cupboard with Liverpool trophies make the club from northern England a power more than respectable. They too, moreover, took a blow to the head last weekend, coming from Manchester City. But they too keep a favorable memory of the area. In 1981, they came to collect beautiful silverware on the Parc des Princes side against… Real Madrid (1-0). Alan Kennedy had bent the Spanish giant. In the final, no one has made it since.
Popular, victorious and adored: Ancelotti, like a king in Italy
5 HOURS AGO
You’ve voted: your “eleven guy” from Real-Liverpool
Long after this evening, even the Reds broke their teeth against Madrid. In kyiv, in 2018, Klopp’s armada was not yet one. The experience of the band in Zidane, on the road to an exceptional “back to back to back”, had extinguished the Reds. Mo Salah and Loris Karius have retained some marks and no doubt a little resentment. “We haven’t forgotten what happened in kyiv but I’m not going to see the final again until tomorrow“, confided a very relaxed Jürgen Klopp on Friday. 2019 has passed by there. And Liverpool have taken the lead since this sad evening.
We could even go so far as to say that the Reds, in search of a seventh C1 – which would raise them to the level of AC Milan -, are the favorites of the Stade de France meeting, which has taken up the torch from Saint-Petersburg because of the war launched by Russia against Ukraine. “It’s not easy to say, tempers Klopp. I would say that Real are favorites because of their experience, although I want to think and would like to say that we are on an equal footing.”. At a minimum, yes. Because if Liverpool have moved to a point of a twentieth title of champion of England and the prospect of a fantastic quadruple, the fact remains that the Scousers will aim for a sacred hat-trick on Saturday. With the help, possibly providential, of Thiago Alcantara. Affected last Sunday against Wolverhampton, he has been racing against the clock ever since.
Providence, Real Madrid has called on her several times at the heart of an adventure like no other. The head above the precipice, the Merengue had it more than reason. Facing PSG, first. 150 minutes of nothing and then, the light. Against Chelsea, then. A nightmarish return and then, the finger on the switch. In front of Manchester City, finally. Virtually eliminated from the 2nd minute of the first leg to the 91st of the return leg, Carlo Ancelotti’s players – in search of a fourth cup with big ears, which would be a record – overturned the table. With, of course, Karim Benzema, as the chief mover.
With 15 goals on the clock, the Frenchman has risen to heights that only Cristiano Ronaldo has attended (17 goals in 2013/2014). At 34, the captain of Real has never been stronger. He is running behind a fifth victory in the competition and, indirectly, after a first Ballon d’Or. At this time, KB9 is the number 1 candidate to succeed Lionel Messi and it would take a lot, Sadio Mané or Mohamed Salah, for it to be otherwise. But that, Benzema does not care. The main thing has big ears. Everything else, the main interested party would tell you, are just “little things”. Saturday in Saint-Denis, city where the kings are buried, it will be a question, this time, of crowning a new one.
“If Real loses the final, it will expose itself to the Mbappé earthquake”
Liverpool, the art of recovering from everything
5 HOURS AGO
Klopp optimistic for Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara: ‘It looks good’