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Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo said his team are the better side ahead of Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev.
While Ronaldo declared respect for the Reds, he feels Real Madrid have the edge, per AS.
“Finals are always special occasions: I would have preferred it to be Manchester United. But Liverpool deserve respect. We’re not going to have it easy. They deserve to be in the final. They remind me of Madrid three or four years ago. Their three front players, they’re very quick… they are powerful in attack and I respect them. But Madrid are better. We have to play to our level, but we also have to respect the opposition.”
A win for Real Madrid would also see Ronaldo become the first player to win the Champions League five times, per UEFA:
UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague
Most #UCLfinal wins in history:
Cristiano Ronaldo = 🏆🏆🏆🏆
Clarence Seedorf = 🏆🏆🏆🏆
Andrés Iniesta = 🏆🏆🏆🏆
@Cristiano to make history on Saturday? 🤔 https://t.co/ztWG1LhqHP
Real Madrid have won the trophy three times in the last four seasons and twice in the last two seasons. However, they have looked vulnerable this season even though they have managed to make it to the final again.
Freelance football writer Colin Millar neatly summed up their campaign:
Colin Millar @Millar_Colin
What is most striking about this Real Madrid team is their composure: they never get flustered. Fall behind twice against Bayern, twice against Barca, against PSG and Juventus, but always find a way. This is the prevalent quality for any side with hopes of European success.
Real Madrid seem to have the ability grind out results even when they are playing poorly, as noted by Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
“Position by position, Madrid have the best players in the world,” Messi he told TyC Sports (h/t Sam Marsden at ESPN FC). “[Barca] do as well, but Madrid have something that only they have. When they play badly, they still get results. We have to be the far superior side to win.“
The European champions also possess plenty of match-winners. Ronaldo often reserves his best for the big games, while Isco, Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are all capable of making a difference.
Liverpool will have their work cut out if they are to put an end to Real Madrid’s success in the tournament. Their record against Los Blancos shows they have reason to be optimistic, as noted by Squawka Football:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Liverpool’s last 5 games against Real Madrid in all competitions:
@smarkets is currently showing them on a 30.77% chance – https://t.co/Szhm55y9HA https://t.co/4WgmQYR09u
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been prolific in the tournament, and an attack containing Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino should cause their opponents problems.
However, defensively Liverpool have had issues. They conceded six goals over two legs against Roma in the semi-final. Luke Edwards at The Telegraph also said the Reds tend to tire towards the end of games:
Luke Edwards @LukeEdwardsTele
For all the comments about it being a poor Real Madrid side by their high standards they will fancy their chances against Liverpool’s defence won’t they?! They will also be confident they will be stronger in the final stages too. Why do Liverpool tire so badly?
The game looks to be nicely set up with two teams who love to attack. Real Madrid have the edge when it comes to experience and also have the more star-studded squad. However, Klopp has built a vibrant team that thrashed record-breaking English champions Manchester City along the way to the final.