Three will be the magic number for one team on Saturday night as Real Madrid go in search of a third straight Champions League crown and Liverpool, with the game’s most frightening attacking trio, try to stop them.
Real Madrid are favourites in Kiev, no better than 13/10 to win in 90 minutes or 8/11 to lift the trophy, with Liverpool a shade better than 2/1 with most bookies to win in normal time or 13/10 to get their hands on the prize.
The Merseysiders won’t be bothered by their longer odds – they had a 66/1 shot for the Premier League Golden Boot romp home earlier this month and Mohamed Salah, assisted by Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, is tipped to have a huge say in the Ukrainian capital.
But, as always, so is Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristaino Ronaldo has 15 goals in the Champions League this season – will he add to the tally?
Ronaldo v Salah
Ronaldo’s Champions League numbers are astonishing. He’s the competitions all-time top scorer with 120 goals, leads the way this season on 15 and is one win away from lifting the trophy for a fifth time. But heading into this one there’s nothing between him and the man who swept the Premier League player of the year prizes.
Both claimed 44 goals for their clubs in 2017-18 and both are no better than 7/4 to win the Ballon d’Or. There will be a shift in that market by late Saturday night once the dust has settled on Kiev’s Olympic Stadium and one of them has their hands on the biggest prize in club football.
In a straight shootout, Salah is 11/5 to outscore Ronaldo, who is 2/1, with the tie 6/5, while man-of-the-match betting has Ronaldo at 5/1 and Salah available at 6/1. Ronaldo heads the scorer betting at 16/5 for the opener and 17/20 at any time while Salah is available at 23/5 to break the deadlock and 23/18 just to score.
Both of them on target is only 21/10 as, just like defences across Europe, bookies have been running scared of the two headline acts.
Mohamed Salah heads to Kiev on the back of a storming season in the Premier League
Salah will have alongside him Mane and Firmino, 5/2 and 21/10 respectively to score at any time, while Gareth Bale (24/13) and Karim Benzema (2/1) are next best after Ronaldo in the betting for the Spaniards.
Betway’s 5/4 that any one of Liverpool’s front three is on the scoresheet is buying money and they also go 3/1 Salah has more assists than Ronaldo (4/1) with the tie 2/5.
Roberto Firmino (left) and Sadio Mane (right) make up a deadly attacking trio with Salah
If we’re assuming the nets will be rippled a few times, it’s worth looking down the list for better value. The likes of Casemiro, Sergio Ramos, Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid have bagged Champions League final goals in recent seasons.
In the biggest games, it’s Ramos who jumps off the page. He’s 15/2 to get on the scoresheet while the pick of the bunch for the Reds at a bigger price is Virgil van Dijk to score for the first time since his Merseyside derby winner in January. He’s 14/1 at any time or 25/1 (from 22s with Sky Bet) to score a header.
Sergio Ramos, no stranger to a goal in a Champions League final, was all smiles in training
Banker: Any one of Liverpool’s front three to score – 5/4
Worth a nibble: Both teams to score in both halves – 8/1
Liverpool to win and over 3.5 goals in the game – 11/2
Outsider: Virgil van Dijk to score a header 25/1
The Barcelona boys won’t admit it and neither will followers of Liverpool’s big-six rivals but this is a final to look forward to.
There’s as much chance of it finishing 0-0 as there is of muscle-man Ronaldo keeping his top on until he’s back in the dressing room.
So, how many? Since beating Juventus 3-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final, Real have kept just one clean sheet in 11 outings – a 6-0 win over Celta Vigo.
In that run, they’ve averaged just over two goals a game. The first bit is good news for free-scoring Liverpool, who set a Champions League record when they took their season’s tally to 46 (including the Hoffenheim play-off matches) during the semi-final tie with Roma.
They also finished the domestic campaign with a 4-0 victory over Brighton having drawn a blank against Stoke and Chelsea either side of the second Roma game. Over 3.5 total goals in the game can be backed at 5/4 while over 4.5 is 29/10. For Real to win and over 3.5 total goals, it’s 18/5 while Liverpool are 11/2 in the same market.
We usually get double-digit odds on both teams to score in both halves when placing that bet on Premier League fixtures, but here it’s 8/1.
*Prices from oddschecker.com – correct at time of publication
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane (left) is aiming for a third straight Champions League success while Reds boss Jurgen Klopp will be hoping he has the last laugh on Saturday night