Champions League final: Liverpool, Real Madrid’s Paris opportunity

It is, in one sense, a classic Champions League final. Real Madrid against Liverpool. The most successful side of the competition had known against the most successful English side. It will be the first matchup to have happened in the final three times; it’s even happened once before in the same city, albeit in a different stadium. Both have already won trophies this season.

Yet for all the success both clubs have enjoyed over the last nine months, both end their seasons facing not just the immediate anti-climax of defeat in a certain sense but also a real specter of disappointment. For Liverpool, that is straightforward enough. This has been an exceptional but exhausting season in which it has played every game it could have possibly played. It won the League Cup and the FA Cup and, but for three goals in a five-minute spell from Manchester City on Sunday, it would have won the league as well. Given that, even then, one goal from Aston Villa would have given Liverpool the Premier League, it’s not unreasonable to say that the prospect of a quadruple remained alive until the final minute of the league season. No English side has ever been so close before. And given all that, Liverpool were to lose on Saturday, a pair of domestic cups would feel like a scant reward for such an exceptional season.

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