Today, Liverpool will face Real Madrid in the 2022 Champions League final.
Months of hard work, determination and improbable results will come down to one match — it is winner takes all.
After Liverpool’s comeback against Villarreal and Real Madrid’s stunning resurgence against Manchester City, we can only hope the final has the same levels of drama as the semi-finals just gone.
Ghnewsfile has all you need to know ahead of a blockbuster game.
When is the Champions League final?
This year’s Champions League final takes place today, on Saturday, May 28.
It kicks off at 8pm BST / 3pm ET / 12pm PT.
Where will it take place and why was it moved?
The final was originally scheduled to take place in Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena.
Following to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the 2020 and 2021 finals were relocated to Portugal, and the final hosts were shifted back a year.
As a result, this year’s final was due to take place at the original host of the 2021 final, Zenit Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena, with the Allianz Arena to host the showpiece event in 2023.
But after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UEFA decided in February to move to the final again — this time to the Stade de France in Paris.
The 80,000-seater stadium hosted the Champions League final in 2000 and 2006, as well as the finals of Euro 2016 and the 1998 World Cup.
Who will be showing the game on TV?
In the UK, BT Sport will broadcast the match. In previous years, BT have made the Champions League (and Europa League) final available to watch for free on YouTube, but no announcement has yet been made on that.
In the US, CBS Sports and Paramount+ will show the game.
If you’re unable to watch the match, The Athletic will have live coverage on the website and app.
How do tickets work?
For this year’s final, 20,000 seats in the Stade de France will be allocated to fans of each of Liverpool and Real Madrid, with applicants able to buy two tickets.
The cost of a ticket ranges from €70 (£59) to €690 (£580), with clubs distributing them as they see fit.
For more information on how exactly ticketing works for the Champions League final, check out our explainer.
How expensive will it be for fans to get there?
Liverpool supporters hoping to travel to Paris to watch their team play in the Champions League final against Real Madrid face huge sums to get there, with direct flights between north England and Paris exceeding £600.
Trains between London and Paris have largely sold out, while flights to the French capital from Madrid are also expensive.
There are only two viable flights from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to Paris, which may not be convenient for match-going fans. An EasyJet flight leaving John Lennon Airport on Friday morning, for example, costs £382.99 at the time of writing.
There is also a flight on Saturday, which costs £372.99, but this lands at Charles De Gaulle airport at 2.05pm, which leaves little time for fans to head to the match.
Liverpool fans who want to leave England on Friday for a night in Paris before the match will have to pay for the privilege — a seat on the 7.25pm Easyjet flight costs £605.99, with flights the following morning just under £500.
AirFrance also operates on Saturday morning, with these tickets costing upwards of £600.
How did Liverpool get here?
Winning all six of their group matches earmarked Liverpool as an early favourite for the Champions League title.
They were then paired with Inter Milan in the last-16, where a 2-0 win at San Siro in the first leg saw them through despite a 1-0 defeat at Anfield — the only match Jurgen Klopp’s side have lost in this season’s competition.
Liverpool then dismantled Benfica 3-1 in Lisbon in the first leg of their quarter-final, which was followed by a 3-3 home draw, made to look more uncomfortable than it was in reality due to two late goals from the Portuguese side.
Unai Emery’s Villarreal awaited Liverpool in the semi-finals, a tie which appeared foregone after an impressive 2-0 home victory in the first leg. Two first-half goals from Villarreal in the return fixture then jolted Liverpool into life, who secured their place in the final with three goals of their own after the break.
How did Real Madrid get here?
Real Madrid’s Champions League journey at the Santiago Bernabeu began in an embarrassing fashion as they lost 2-1 at home to Moldovan champions FC Sheriff in their second group match, a result that stunned the competition.
That seemed to spur Ancelotti’s side on, however, as they won all their remaining group games to finish top of Group D — only to then be drawn against Paris Saint-Germain in a heavyweight round of 16 tie.
Real Madrid lost the first leg in Paris 1-0 and then conceded just before half-time in the return fixture at the Bernabeu. Just as it looked as though they were down and out, a sensational second-half hat-trick from captain Karim Benzema secured a place in the quarter-finals.
There, they met Chelsea, who had defeated them in the semi-finals of last season’s competition. Madrid looked to have vanquished those demons, having won 3-1 in the first leg in west London.
Ancelotti’s side were stunned at the Bernabeu, though, as Chelsea went 3-0 up with 15 minutes left to play. Madrid then turned the tie on its head, with a Rodrygo volley sending the game to extra time and Benzema scoring the winner shortly after the restart.
That set up the semi-final against Manchester City — a tie that will be remembered as an all-time Champions League classic for the drama that ensued over the two legs.
City won 4-3 at the Etihad and then went 1-0 up late on in the second leg, but two late goals from Rodrygo levelled the tie at 5-5 on aggregate. Once again, Benzema was the hero for Real Madrid, scoring from the spot in extra time.
And what is the history between the two teams?
It’s not pleasant, to say the least.
These sides met in the 2018 Champions League final, a game which saw Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah taken off injured in the first half after a challenge from Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
Liverpool were unhappy about the strength of that challenge, and went on to lose the game 3-1.
They then came up against each other in last season’s quarter-finals, with Madrid winning the first leg 3-1 at home, followed by a goalless draw at Anfield.
After Liverpool had beaten Villarreal but before Madrid had overcome City, Salah was asked who he’d rather face in the final.
“Yeah, I want to play Madrid,” was his response.
What is the early team news — who’s out?
Divock Origi is out, while influential midfielder Thiago was a doubt after sustaining an Achilles injury but returned to training this week ahead of the match.
Joe Gomez and Fabinho also returned to training this week, while Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk are continuing to work their way back to full fitness.
Madrid, meanwhile, have Eden Hazard on the treatment table. The Belgian has been out since March with a leg injury.
Gareth Bale has also missed matches in recent weeks due to a back problem.
Who are the favourites?
Given Liverpool’s wealth of talent and Real Madrid’s never say die attitude, this is an almost impossible game to predict.
The good folks at FiveThirtyEight have tried to do just that, however, and are backing Liverpool to win their seventh Champions League title.
FiveThirtyEight gives Liverpool a 65 per cent chance of winning, with Madrid clocking in at 35 per cent.
Source: The Athletic