A victory and defeat written in the stars

Champions League duel: Real Madrid (white) defeated Liverpool 1-0 in last Saturday’s final PIC: EMRE ASIKCI
Champions League duel: Real Madrid (white) defeated Liverpool 1-0 in last Saturday’s final PIC: EMRE ASIKCI

Though surprising, Liverpool’s 1-0 loss in the UEFA Champions League final to Real Madrid was not entirely unexpected. Remove blind euphoria from the equation and the odds pointed to a Real Madrid win. A look at history, statistics and even form, prove that Liverpool were the underdogs going into the tie contrary to conventional wisdom.

Since 2014, Liverpool have had a very poor record against Real Madrid who have beaten them in four of five-six meetings before Saturday’s final. Real have been ruthless in Champions League finals winning seven out of seven before making it eight against Liverpool last weekend. Compare this to Liverpool whose return is two wins in five outings in the Champions League era. The statistics are even worse for their current coach, Juergen Klopp. The German is currently one of the two best coaches in the world alongside Pep Guardiola of Manchester City.

But his record in landing the knock-out blow in the big finals is pathetic. Out of six European finals, he has won only two. In his first final in 2013, he was on the losing end with Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich. In his first season at Liverpool, he lost the Europa League final to Sevilla in 2016. This has been followed by the two losses against Real in the Champions League final in 2018 and last Saturday. In contrast, his Real opposite, Carlo Ancelotti has carried the day in four out of five European finals - twice each with AC Milan and Real Madrid with the only setback in 2005 when he lost to Liverpool in the famous Istanbul comeback. During Klopp’s stint at Liverpool, all wins in cup finals have come in extra-time or the lottery of shoot-outs except for the 2019 Champions League. He has beaten Chelsea three times in finals through shoot-outs starting with the European Super Cup in 2019 and this year’s FA and Carabao cups.

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