Champions League: Real Expected to End Reds' Dream

By Ed Hawkins03 May 2018
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Following the thrilling semi-final second leg between Roma and Liverpool on Wednesday night, BMR’s green-listed bookmakers have priced up an array of markets for the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the end of the month.

Of most interest, naturally, is the 90-minute winner. Real Madrid, the holders, are rated as +120 favourites with Bet365, Ladbrokes and William Hill. Liverpool are +210 with William Hill and the draw is +260 with the same three firms.

At this early stage it is very tempting indeed to reckon Real are a stonking price. This column predicted a Roma victory because Liverpool have defensive frailties which even average teams can exploit – they conceded twice against West Bromwich Albion, for goodness sake. What could Real do to them?

Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool coach, praised his side for playing “crazy” football in Europe this season. He is right. The Reds have been a joy to watch, full of attacking vim and vigour. They roam forward with abandon, often leaving the back door not just unlocked but swinging wildly in the wind.

Did they get away with one against Roma? Probably not. Their qualification was never in doubt. Roma were one goal away from levelling affairs with time already up on the ref’s whistle. He merely had to re-start the game so only on face value does it appear a close-run thing.

But Real will fancy their chances of picking off Liverpool, for whom it could be a game too far. William Hill’s -137 that they lift the trophy is a price that, we suspect, may not last long at all.

The potential for another thriller, though, is high thanks to Liverpool’s carefree attacking prowess. Over 3.5 goals – another wager that copped for us in Rome – is chalked up at +125 with Ladbrokes.

Early correct score prices which interest us are Real 3-2 at +1800 (Bet365, William Hill, Ladbrokes) and 3-1 for the Spanish giants at +1400 with the same firm.

The contest within the contest sees Cristiano Ronaldo match up against Mo Salah. Ronaldo has 15 goals in this year’s competition and is averaging a goal every 72 minutes. Salah has 10 and averages one bang on 90 minutes. Roberto Firminio and Sadio Mane average a goal every 94 and 97 minutes, respectively.

This underlines Liverpool’s strength. They do not rely on Salah, but Real rely on Ronaldo. Next best for them is Karim Benzema with a goal every 128 minutes. But all these numbers do is solidify the idea that this could be one of the most open Champions League finals for years.