The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid on Saturday, May 28th is a rematch of the 2018 final that Real Madrid won. Taking place in Paris at the Stade de France at 3 p.m. ET, you can catch all the action on CBS and Paramount+ but with two titans clashing, there won’t be much to separate them which means we have to parse the numbers.
Let’s look at some stats that could be critical to deciding who walks away with the title
1. Karim Benzema’s 15 goals in Champions League for Real Madrid
It’s not a secret that a large part of Real Madrid’s Champions League success has been on the back of Karim Benzema. He has been responsible for 54 percent of Real Madrid’s goals scored and with two more goals he could tie Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the most goals scored in a single Champions League campaign with 17 and a hat trick in the final would see Benzema break the record for the most goals.
But it’s not all about the numbers of goals as much as it’s about when Benzema is doing his damage. He has scored nine of his 15 goals after the 60th minute either clawing back leads for Los Blancos or pushing them ahead with insurance goals. Since the defense has been so susceptible to making mistakes, Benzema’s job has been even more important this season because he needs to outscore the opposition by himself. It’s something that he has been able to do and will feel comfortable with carrying the burden on the big stage yet again.
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2. Liverpool have two wins in penalty shootouts in cup finals this season
Real Madrid will want to take care of things in regulation as if it goes to a penalty shootout the advantage will swing to Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s “mentality monsters” are calm as can be in high pressure situations and have already won two trophies in their quest for the treble via shootouts. In the EFL cup final victory it came down to backup keeper Caoimhin Kelleher in an 11-10 victory over Chelsea where he took his kick from the spot better than most forwards.
Kelleher was so dialed in that after the match he stated that he didn’t even realize that he scored the winning penalty at first. That kind of confidence was also on display in Liverpool when Liverpool triumphed over Chelsea again in the FA Cup. Alisson took charge of that shootout saving Mason Mount’s penalty before Konstantinos Tsimikas delivered the winning shot after being subbed into the match during extra time. From top to bottom, this is a roster ready for a shootout so Real Madrid would want to throw everything forward if it means that they can avoid them.
3. In three knockout stage wins, Real Madrid have two comebacks
While the two legs over Chelsea can’t be considered a comeback due to Real Madrid holding a two goal lead heading into the second leg, before blowing it and then coming back, their exploits over PSG and Manchester City are nothing short of extraordinary. Behind by two goals with 30 minutes remaining against PSG it was almost assumed that the Parisians would move on. Enter Karim Benzema. Benema’s hat trick that only took 18 minutes and sent PSG reeling. Real moved on with the confidence that no victory is out of their reach with the magic that their attack can provide.
They doubled down on that in the semifinals against Manchester City responding to each City goal in the first leg to head back to the Santiago Bernabéu only behind by one goal. But again, they left it late. Riyad Mahrez’s goal for City left Los Blancos with another two goal deficit late in the match but this time it was Rodrygo’s chance to step up, scoring goals in the 90th and 91st minute before Benzema converted a penalty in extra time for the win. Carlo Ancelotti’s hardened side knows that they can depend on their performances even when others may count them out of the running. That’s a dangerous thing for Liverpool to need to handle in the final. This is a Liverpool side that likes to get control of a match early and make teams lose their will to compete but it will be easier said than done against Real Madrid.
4. Liverpool’s super-charged fullbacks have created 41 chances
While Thiago has added a creative spark centrally for Liverpool, the flanks are where to watch in the buildup. Real can’t overcommit to defending one of Andrew Roberson or Trent Alexander-Arnold or they’ll be beaten elsewhere but they also can’t ignore them either. With teams focusing more and more on Alexander-Arnold, Robertson has been on a tear. The two have six combined assists in champions league play but haven’t scored a goal yet. With them on set plays and getting space going forward, that could change in the final though.
Alexander-Arnold is the top Liverpool player in Champions League by expected assists with 2.87 and that’s a number that ranks fifth of all players in Champions League. On the other side, Vini Jr. is the leader in both chances created with 31 and assists with six for Real Madrid which brings up the defensive test that the two will be faced with. Will fear of Madrid’s most creative player make Alexander-Arnold less potent going forward for Liverpool? That’s Real’s hope. Liverpool’s fullbacks haven’t shirked defensive responsibilities this season but they’ll hope that midfielder Fabinho is healthy enough to start the match. His presence covering when the fullbacks go marauding makes their jobs much easier.