Winning the UEFA Champions League is one of the top honors any footballer dreams to achieve during his professional career, and for Real Madrid C.F. and its players, this Saturday will mark the chance to make history again.
The NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, which has a capacity of over 70,000 seats, is the place where Los Merengues will attempt to become champions of Europe for the third consecutive time.
For the second time in Champions League history, Los Blancos will be facing Liverpool F.C. in hopes of achieving what they failed to do in the 1980-81 final: beat The Reds.
But this time, victory will also mean becoming champions of Europe for the 13th time. An honor no other team has achieved in the history of the prestigious competition.
12-time winner Real Madrid has AC Milan behind in the race with seven titles, while The Reds are tied with FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich with five trophies each.
Los Merengues won the first five titles of the competition, formerly known as the European Cup, which was inaugurated in 1955. After those consecutive titles, all achieved in the 1950s, they conquered the tournament again in 1966.
After that, Los Blancos struggled in the competition, and it was not until 1998 that they became champions again. All this followed by titles in 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
For the 2017-18 campaign, Real Madrid was placed in Group H along with APOEL FC, Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund and made it to the next rounds defeating Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Juventus F.C. and Bayern Munich.
In the Round of 16 first leg match, Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo reached 100 Champions League goals scored while wearing the Real Madrid jersey.
But that was not it for the Portuguese. During the first leg of the quarter-finals against Juventus, Ronaldo became the first player ever to score in ten consecutive matches for this competition.
The current cup holders became the first team in Champions League history to record 150 wins after their first leg on-the-road victory against Bayern, where they also won for the second season in a row.
For the second leg of the Semifinal, Frenchman Karim Benzema scored a brace, helping his team reach their third consecutive final, an achievement only done so far by Juventus in 1998.
The Reds took care of business in the play-offs by defeating Hoffenheim, advancing to the group phase where they moved past FC Spartak Moscow, NK Maribor and Sevilla FC, this followed by victories over FC Porto, Manchester City and AS Roma.
In the Round of 16 (First leg), Sadio Mané scored his first hat-trick as a Liverpool player and for the quarter-finals, Liverpool defeated EPL rival, and then current table leaders and eventual champions, Manchester City, with a 3-0 score at Anfield.
Roma proved to be a great rival, and a tough one to beat, for the Reds in the semi-finals. Though the first leg was won by Liverpool 5-2 at home, Roma showed their desire to turn it around, scoring four goals at Stadio Olimpico, while allowing two, but it wasn’t enough. Liverpool qualified to the final with an aggregate of 6-7.
As of now, Real Madrid’s Ronaldo is the current top scorer with 15 goals, followed by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino with ten each, while their teammate Mané has nine. When it comes to assists, the Reds are also leading the table with James Milner (9), and Firmino (8).
As for goals in overall, Liverpool is in first place with 40, while Madrid sits in second with 30.