It doesn’t get more pedigreed than a Champions League final involving Real Madrid and Liverpool. With 19 trophies between them, the two clubs have quite the legacy. While Madrid’s European cred dates back to the early years of the competition, the Merseysiders would rear their heads in the late 70s, precipitating a wildly successful era for English clubs in the European Cup. As football fiends across the globe wait anxiously for tonight’s Paris duel, we dive into the past to dig out five of their most iconic clashes.
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1981 European Cup Final, Paris: Liverpool 1 Madrid 0
The two clubs first met in a European Cup final of all places, making their acquaintances on a balmy Paris evening. Rocking up to the Parc de Princes, Bob Paisley’s Liverpool believed they had the swagger and steel to repel Madrid. While Madrid wasn’t quite the force of old, they were a decent bunch and in Laurie Cunningham had the x-factor to swing the final their way. The London-born winger, cast aside by Arsenal, would find his feet at The Hawthorns before being snapped up by the Spanish giants. The match itself was a sappy affair, with both teams cancelling each other out for long periods. With the final heading towards extra-time, up stepped Reds’ left-back Alan Kennedy-foreshadowing his contemporary Andy Robertson-to score an unlikely winner.
2008-09 Round of 16, Second Leg: Liverpool 4 Real Madrid 0
Almost three decades would pass before their next meeting, this time in the first knockout rounds of the Champions League. While Liverpool edged the first leg, courtesy of a Yossi Benayoun goal, it’s the second that holds greater significance. None would have expected the pasting the then nine-time champions would receive at Anfield, but the 4-0 would force Papa Perez to splash out the chequebook, bringing in a certain CR7 and the sublime Kaka. Gerrard and Torres tore into the Madrid defence, scoring three goals between them. Madrid resembled a dire mess, allowing even a relative unknown in Andrea Dossena to score past them.
2014-15 Group Stage: Real Madrid 1 Liverpool 0
Brendan’s babes had thrilled their way into Champions League qualification, undoing years of stasis for the Merseyside club. However, with Luis Suarez’s departure, the Reds’ lacked the bite for the big games. The Galacticos would breeze past their opponents in their first encounter in the group stage, bringing to a close all talks of a Liverpool hex over them. Their second, while unspectacular on the pitch, was notable for Rodgers’ opting to leave his three main men- Gerrard, Coutinho and Sterling- on the bench. Citing the upcoming league fixture against Chelsea, the Northern Irish manager waved the white flag, to the dismay of both sets of fans.
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2017-18 Champions League Final, Kyiv: Real Madrid 3 Liverpool 1
The most infamous entry of the lot, much of tonight’s skirmish will be driven by events from that night. 25 minutes into a back and forth contest, Madrid’s captain Sergio Ramos would tumble into Mo Salah, locking arms with the Egyptian as they fell to the floor. It would effect a shoulder twist of some severity, forcing Mo to sit out the rest of the final. While the challenge was deemed accidental by Serbian referee Milorad Mazic, talks of Ramos’ devilry would hit a crescendo, especially among the Pool faithful. Injury aside, Lokus Karius’ unfortunate errors, punctured by Gareth Bale’s wondrous bicycle kick, would secure a hat-trick of Champions League titles for Madrid.
2020-21 Quarter-Finals, First Leg: Real Madrid 3 Liverpool 1
With the Bernabeu undergoing renovation, the two clubs found themselves amidst Madrid’s much smaller Alfredo di Stefano stadium, located within their Valdebebas training centre. A severely depleted Liverpool-highlighted by the makeshift defensive pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips- struggled to cope with Toni Kroos’ quality. The German midfielder would drop deep to receive the ball deep inside his half, pinging passes over the Reds’ high-line. Vinicius Jr. flourished, with Asensio giving him company in the scoring sheet. Salah would pull one back for the visitors, but the Spaniards were clearly superior.