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Champions League 2021/22: Villarreal vs Liverpool - tactical analysis tactics

Champions League Final Betting Tips

This year’s Champions League final sets up a tie between two of European Football’s biggest clubs. With both sides steeped in European history with 19 Champions League trophies between them, Paris is set to witness what should be one of football’s classics.

The two sides are no strangers by any means with various meetings over the years at different stages of the competition. In 1981, it was Paris who hosted the pair as Liverpool secured their third European Cup under Bob Paisley, and a late Alan Kennedy goal saw off Real Madrid.

Liverpool is priced to repeat their 1-0 1981 triumph at 8/1, and you can receive £50 in Free Bets when you stake £10.

Real Madrid x Liverpool History

It would be some years until the sides would meet again, where a Steven Gerrard-inspired Liverpool would dismantle the Spanish giants in their pomp 5-0 on aggregate after a 4-0 thrashing at Anfield in the second leg of the tie.

Then-Madrid-boss Juande Ramos would label Liverpool “too good” on the night. This would be the end of Liverpool having Real Madrid’s number, however, as the pair would meet again in 2014 with Liverpool struggling to enjoy the same success as preceding teams. Liverpool would come up short in both group games despite a hard-fought performance in Madrid.

Kyiv in 2018 saw the two sides meet in a European Final for the first time since 1981, and it;s a final that will be remembered for being both spectacular and a disaster.

A Gareth Bale-wondergoal-inspired Real Madrid would run out eventual winners, but much controversy surrounded Liverpool’s handling of their suspected concussed Goalkeeper Loris Karius, and the early-inflicted injury on star forward Mohamed Salah.

Karius’ blunders in the game would give Real Madrid an easier win than anticipated – however, this was to act as a cornerstone for a Liverpool side on the rise.

The last meet between the two sides saw a Liverpool side decimated by injuries fall to a 3-1 away loss in the Quarter Finals of the 2020/21 campaign. Liverpool’s mismatched side were poor in the first leg despite the consolation goal, allowing Real Madrid to set up camp in front of their Anfield goal in the second leg, and ultimately grinding to a 0-0 draw to see Los Blancos progress without fuss.

Route to Paris: Liverpool

Liverpool’s Champions League run began 12 months ago at the Hawthorns Stadium against West Brom as the unlikeliest of heroes in goalkeeper Alisson Becker scored when the odds were against an injury-ravaged Liverpool side who were fighting for top-4. Fast forward to the beginning of the 2021/22 season and Liverpool faced one of the tougher groups in the competition drawing FC Porto, AC Milan, and Atletico Madrid.

A flawless group stage campaign saw Liverpool win all six of their matches, starting with a hard-earned 3-2 win at Anfield against AC Milan. Perhaps most impressive of their group stage success was their two wins in a doubleheader against Atletico Madrid both home and away. Liverpool definitely showed a different side to the team that was knocked out by Atletico Madrid a couple of seasons earlier.

In winning all six of their group games, Liverpool made history becoming the first English side to complete a perfect set of results qualifying from their tough group with ease. This set up a tie with Italian champions Inter Milan, setting up a second trip to the San Siro Stadium in one season.

Place any £10 bet on the Champions League Final with bet365 and receive £50 in Free Bets.

A less than comfortable second leg performance at Anfield was just enough to squeeze past the Italian side after a much needed 2-0 away win in the first leg. This set up a favourable draw en route to the final with many heavy hitters avoided as the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals, and Final route was mapped out ahead of the side.

Liverpool would draw Portuguese side Benfica, and after again relying upon a positive away first leg, a high-scoring draw set up a Semi-Final against either Bayern Munich or Villarreal.

It was Villarreal – the reigning Europa League champions having already knocked out Juventus previously – who were the surprise winners, signalling an early exit for the Bavarian champions and a disappointing campaign for Ballon d’Or prospect Robert Lewandowski.

Villarreal showed why they deserved respect with their performances both home and away in the Semi-Final tie, however, Liverpool’s experience prevailed as calm heads were kept after losing a two-goal advantage in the second leg. Three goals in the second half fired Liverpool to a 5-2 aggregate win and saw Jurgen Klopp’s side reach their fourth European Final under the German’s reign.

Route to Paris: Real Madrid

Real Madrid began their Champions League campaign drawing relatively friendly group stage opposition in Champions League newcomers Sheriff Tiraspol, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Italian champions Inter Milan. Qualification didn’t look in doubt with Inter Milan being the only real threat to the top spot in the group, however, things didn’t immediately go to plan.

After the initial teething issues, Real Madrid showed their strength and notched up consecutive wins to regain control of the group. Wins against all three group opponents put the Spanish heavyweights clear of their group, with a 5-0 thrashing against Shakhtar Donetsk, and a comfortable 3-0 repayment to Sheriff, meant Real Madrid saw no further hiccups in qualification.

Finishing with five wins, Real Madrid topped the group with 15 points and set themselves up for the Round of 16 draws without too much further worry. The ease of their qualification would stop there though. The Round of 16 offered them Paris Saint-Germain in the next round of the competition, and a much-anticipated match-up against Kylian Mbappe had all eyes watching as the Frenchman’s future was still uncertain.

Real began the tie the hard way, losing 1-0 away from home after a late Mbappe winner gave advantage to the Parisians. Facing the prospect of having to come from behind to qualify, Real Madrid took the game back to the Bernabeu needing a faultless performance.

Another Mbappe goal saw Los Blancos 2-0 behind on aggregate, but it was Karim Benzema who was to have the last word as a 17-minute hat-trick saw the Paris side fold their advantage and saw Real Madrid progress.

Benezema to repeat hat-trick heroics in Paris 28/1, and you can receive £50 in Free Bets when you place a £10 stake on this selection.

After the Quarter-Final draw, Real too knew their path to Paris, while Chelsea stood in the way of a Semi-Final tie against the winners of Manchester City and Atletico Madrid.

It was Benzema again who was the star when Real Madrid dismantled Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and cruised to a 3-1 first-leg win. Chelsea weren’t finished though – they would fight back in the second leg, forcing the fixture into extra-time after three Chelsea goals in 90 minutes.

However, that man again Karim Benzema was to step up in extra time to send Real Madrid to a semi-final tie against Premier League champions Manchester City.

The Semi-Final first-leg at the Etihad stadium could not have started worse for Los Blancos. Falling quickly behind within the first 10 minutes of the match, Madrid found themselves with a mountain to climb. Second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and Benzema gave Real a glimmer of hope salvaging a 4-3 loss to stay within touching distance of Man City after many feared the worst.

City again would take the lead first in the second leg with a 73rd-minute goal from Riyad Mahrez to provide a two-goal cushion, but Real weren’t dead and buried just yet. A dramatic injury-time finish to the tie in 90 minutes saw Rodrygo score twice in as many minutes to force the match into extra-time with the aggregate score at 5-5.

The golden opportunity presented itself six minutes into extra time as Real Madrid were given a penalty which Karim Benzema made no mistake, dispatching his side to Paris and knowing a matchup against Liverpool was awaiting them.

Paris 2022

Both teams enter this final in good form, and memories of Real Madrid’s Kyiv win in 2018 will be fresh in the minds of Liverpool players and supporters alike. While Mohamed Salah has endured a slight post AFCON slump in front of goal, he still picked up the Premier League Golden Boot on Sunday after the conclusion of the domestic season.

He matches up against an in-form Ferland Mendy who has taken to life in Spain with relative ease as the transition continues with club legend Marcelo’s playing time beginning to decrease.

Mohamed Salah to score first at 4/1 will earn you £50 in Free Bets when you wager £10 on this selection.

Sergio Ramos’ exit after last season will also be met with appreciation from the Red half of Merseyside after his performances in his Real career had been key to continental dominance. However, his replacement Éder Militão has filled the void with great effect. Something to watch though in the latter stages of the competition is the ease in which some goals have been scored by Chelsea and Manchester City will be of concern.

For Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk faces a slight race against time to be fit for the final after not featuring since the FA Cup final win over Chelsea. It’s expected that he’ll start, and so the question remains as to who will partner him.

A stark contrast to when these two teams last met, Liverpool now have a wealth of defensive talent and the choice looks to be between Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate. Experience will likely prevail here with Matip enjoying his first season without major injury issues.

Whoever partners Virgil van Dijk will need to be aware of the in-form Karim Benzema. 15 goals so far in this continental campaign puts Benzema a shoe-in for the competition’s top scorer, and the majority of those goals have come in crucial matches. Benzema has revelled in his extra responsibilities since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and is certainly the danger man in white.

If you fancy Karim Benzema to score a brace you can find this priced at 13/2. Place £10 on this selection and earn £50 in Free Bets here.

Midfield is likely where the game will be won or lost with injury concerns creeping in for Liverpool as Fabinho and Thiago face a race against the clock to shake injuries. Casemiro returns to support an ever present Luka Modric after suspension in the Semi-Final, while the pair were largely responsible for the side’s elimination of Liverpool last season. Domestic and European winners are littered across both squads, and with both sides already with the taste of success this season this could be a classic.

With Real Madrid’s recent defensive fragility, and Liverpool’s lack of rhythm for some key players, expect both teams to score here, priced at 8/13. Include Liverpool to win in 90 minutes for 11/4, and Real Madrid at 5/1.

Liverpool are slight favourites to lift the trophy at 4/7 should you not wish to limit your wager to 90 minutes, while the Total Football Analysis tip for the final is a 3-1 Liverpool win priced at 14/1, where you can earn £50 in Free Bets when you bet with bet365.