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2022 UEFA Champions League final predictions: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool key matchup, likely to score, picks

The UEFA Champions League final is here with Liverpool and Real Madrid meeting at Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday to decide this season’s winners of Europe. 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 Champions League 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  

On-site: Peter Schmeichel, Jules Breach, Jenny Chiu and Guillem Balagué

Odds: Liverpool +104; Draw +270; Madrid +245 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Featured Game | Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

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Matchup to watch

Liverpool: I’ve expanded on this further in my bold predictions column, but this certainly feels like a game where the winner of the battle between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Vinicius Junior could carry their team to victory. The latter is statistically the best chance creator in Europe and his lightning pace roasted the Liverpool right back last season. But Alexander-Arnold has improved defensively more than he gets credit for. If he can get into a position to fire crosses into the box, then Madrid are going to be seriously tested. — James Benge

Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.  

Most likely to score

Liverpool: He may be struggling to find the net of late and his record in finals for Liverpool is not as spectacular as in most other games (just the penalty in the win over Tottenham three years ago), but it would be a bold man indeed who doubted Mohamed Salah’s ability to deliver. The Egyptian has finally been afforded the rest that he has got so infrequently in his side’s recent run of games. Even in half an hour against Wolves, he looked like a reinvigorated force. Add to that the clear desire for avenge himself on Madrid for what happened in Kyiv four years ago and this may be a game where we see the best of Salah. — James Benge

Real Madrid: It’s definitely Karim Benzema. Before meeting in the quarterfinals last season, Benzema had four goals in three meetings with Liverpool. Fast forward to today and he’s probably the best player in the world right now with an ability to score every single way possible. He’s the reference point in attack and the main penalty-kick taker. Needing just a half a second to strike, he’s surely the most likely and probably will end up finding the net in this one. — Roger Gonzalez

Most likely to keep a clean sheet

Thibaut Courtois and Alisson are two of the best in the business. What is probably going to separate these two is how reliable their defense is on the night. Liverpool’s defense has been known to have its wobbles, but across the Champions League so far it has been Madrid’s that has given up more goals, expected goals and almost twice as many shots on target. Not once in the knockout rounds has Courtois kept a clean sheet; against Europe’s most formidable attack, you would expect that to continue. — James Benge

Man of the Match pick

Liverpool: If Karim Benzema is quelled for the first time in this competition, one might make a case for Virgil van Dijk. But if recent form is anything to go on, then, providing he is fit, Thiago might just be the star who shines brightest in the Paris night. The Spaniard has been one of Europe’s outstanding players this season and has delivered a string of Man of the Match displays when it has mattered most in the Champions League. Set against Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, this could be the game where Thiago proves he is the best of the best. — James Benge

Real Madrid: Luka Modric. He has to be the creator in the middle, to quickly get the ball out wide to get the attack going, and he’ll also be looking to zero in on the feet and head of Benzema. He may be 36, but he’s still got it. Everything flows through him, and if Real are to win, he’ll be a huge reason why. — Roger Gonzalez

Predictions

Match prediction: It’s hard to shake the sense that Madrid used up their nine lives getting this far and that Liverpool, who seem to be most at ease on the biggest occasions, will not crumble under the pressure as PSG and Manchester City did. I’m backing them to win rather comfortably, 3-1 to be precise.

Champions League final picks

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