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Champions League Final Betting: Real Madrid vs Liverpool

Liverpool() @ Real Madrid()

  • Where: Olympic National Sports Complex. Kiev, Ukraine
  • When: May 26, 2018 2:45 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Real Madrid (-165) vs Liverpool (+135)
  • Over / Under: Over 3 (-130) vs Under 3 (+110)

There was a minor controversy at CBS Sports in the 1980s. Innovative producers like Terry O’Neil and Sandy Grossman wanted to modernize the use of cameras, spreading out angles to cover American football from the 50 yard line, the 25 yard lines and around the goal posts. Others felt that the purpose of TV was to simulate the experience of having a 50-yard-line ticket. “It’s the best seat in the house,” old-timers said.

30 years later and there are cameras all over fields and pitches, hovering over the athletes and zipping around on cables. The home audience has a better visual experience than anyone at a live sporting event.

The best reason to go to a 2018 event in person is the atmosphere. Bragging rights can’t be overlooked either. Fans proudly wave their ticket stubs in the faces of those who saw a big match on television at the bar.

Maybe not this time. Supporters who are not attending the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool can count themselves lucky for a few other reasons. Travel and accommodations in the Ukraine are such a pain in the arse that thousands have sent their tickets back to UEFA requesting refunds. Admission prices have also inflated to the point of absurdity. $600 American dollars buys an ordinary seat for the one-off match in Kiev. It’s cheaper to get a seat at the World Cup or the Olympic Games.

So if you are watching the Champions League from the comforts of home, feel privileged. You’re one of the lucky ones. Heck, you might even wager and win money instead of losing $1000s trying to get to the Ukraine.

That means making a wise pick, though. Here’s a quick look at each club’s talent and form headed into Saturday as Real Madrid attempts to 3-peat as European club champions.

Liverpool: Salah will be dressing 

25-year-old Muhammad Salah has had a magnificent breakout season. The 5’9” forward has scored almost a goal per cap in 36 domestic appearances in 2017-18. But make no mistake, Liverpool is more than the Salah show.

Scoring throughout UEFA action has been a group effort, with Roberto Firmino and African winger Sadio Mane netting a combined 19 tallies alongside 10 for Salah. Firmino is a sneaky steal-artist who frustrates opposing midfielders.

Liverpool finished with a +17 goal differential in Group E and breezed in the knockout round until the semifinals, where The Reds survived a wild 2-leg clash with Roma.

The Italian club scored 4 goals in the 2nd leg, calling Liverpool’s goalkeeping and backline into question. Virgil van Dijk has arrived like a night letter as the English club’s prized new center-back, and keeper Loris Karius has rebounded from a 2017 slump. The 24-year-old German was helpless at times against Roma in the semifinals, however, and must regain momentum on the fly in Ukraine.

Skipper Jurgen Klopp has taken the bold step of talking specifics about the teams in public, telling Robbie Fowler that his side can exploit the weaknesses of the favored Whites. Fellow Premier League coach Rafael Benitez says he thinks the current Liverpool roster is better than the one which claimed the Champions League title 13 years ago.

Las Vegas might not be known as the place to go to gain perspective. But Liverpool’s (+135) odds to lift the trophy are much more accurate to the side’s actual chances than any of the hot air from English partisans.

Ronaldo: Will his situation distract Los Blancos?

Real Madrid executives are interested in signing the Brazilian forward Neymar, who is so good he doesn’t need a last name. It would be unlikely that the club would want to pay for 2 superstars at once. That could set the brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo adrift.

Neymar is almost a decade younger than Ronaldo. If forced to depart Madrid, the Sultan of the Stepover may choose to leave European club football behind and play out his later years in America.

But first, he’s got at least one more match to play. Los Blancos can achieve a 3rd straight Champions League title with a victory in Kiev this weekend. Hopefully, any distraction caused by the rumors will be minimal.

The fate of Ronaldo’s side on Saturday will have a lot to do with how the other 10 players execute around him.

Real Madrid likes to possess the ball and get defenders involved in the attack. In contrast, Klopp’s side will give up the ball to stay in formation, hoping for a turnover. Once a steal occurs it’s off to the races with Salah dashing up the wing and Firmino lurking.

The question is whether a rope-a-dope strategy will turn into Russian Roulette against the Spanish side. Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos is good enough to thwart a run down the middle and make a long pass to a running forward in a blink. Midfielder Luka Modric is another dynamic player who can make a difference at both ends.

Los Blancos keeper Keylor Navas has played exactly 900 minutes in the tournament and was crucial in the semifinal win over Bayern Munich.

Click to wager on the 2018 Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool and receive a sign-up reward from Bovada.

Handicapped in handicapping (but there’s a solid pick)

The dream scenario for Liverpool is to frustrate the Spanish club into pressing too hard. Perhaps Ronaldo will be thinking its his final game with Real while Ramos daydreams of World Cup glory next month. Maybe the strange setting in Kiev will prompt a more ragged match to benefit Liverpool.

But pressing for early goals and getting caught on the back end is a flaw associated with young squads. Not 2-time defending champs with seasoned veterans dotting the pitch.

If Real Madrid finds enough seams in the dogged Liverpool defense, the favorites can control the game with long possessions and put enough pressure on keeper Loris Karius to forge a lead. That would be very bad news for the English side.

Liverpool’s young goalkeeper would be somewhat new to the spectacle of penalty kicks in front of a rabid crowd with everything on the line. We’ll give Real Madrid a 55% or 60% chance to 3-peat if the match goes beyond extra time. That’s a nice safety feature attached to a bet on the favorites.

Los Blancos are the pick at (-165) to lift the trophy.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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