It’s so nearly upon us.
Another Champions League season filled to the brim with drama and quality is approaching its conclusion, with Liverpool and Real Madrid set to square off on Saturday night in a rematch of 2018’s showpiece.
So what better way to round things off than with some combined XI action? With a little help from legendary striker Michael Owen, here are the best players from Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Alisson is the best goalkeeper in the world right now.
With precise kicking and awesome reflexes, the Brazilian is the leading light between the sticks worldwide and just won the Golden Glove award in the Premier League, being tied with compatriot Ederson on 20 clean sheets.
Thibaut Courtois has grown immeasurably since joining Real, but he’s not at Alisson’s level.
Running a game from right back should be impossible, but Alexander-Arnold has been doing it for years with Liverpool – and he’s still only 23.
Wracking up a silly amount of assists from the flank, the England defender has the best delivery in the game and his defensive game improves season upon season.
Dani Carvajal’s role in the Real side that won four Champions League titles can’t be dismissed, but he doesn’t match up to TAA’s game-changing ability.
The perfect partner for a certain Dutchman who we’ll get to in a moment, Matip’s authoritative performances at the back are starting to gain attention.
Comfortable bringing the ball out and joining attacks, the 30-year-old has even added a goal threat to his game this season, notching three league goals.
Pace, power, positioning, heading, one-on-ones – you name it, Virgil van Dijk is a master of it.
His signing transformed Liverpool into the defensive behemoth we see today and they never look quite as assured without the centre back in their side.
He picked up a knock towards the end of the league season but will be fit for the final. His match-up with Karim Benzema will be fascinating.
Rounding off the all-Liverpool back five is Scotsman Robertson, whose rampaging runs down the left have elevated the Reds’ attacking threat.
He also loves a bit of niggle – just ask the likes of Lionel Messi, Rafinha and, err, Tom Davies.
There aren’t any realistic shouts for Ferland Mendy, are there? No? Good. Moving on.
We will get to some Real Madrid players soon, we promise, but holding things together at the base of the midfield is Fabinho.
The cruncher took some time to break into Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI when he first joined but now he provides such a level of assurance to their midfield, constantly winning the ball back by breaking up attacks and indulging in the dark arts.
Casemiro remains as fierce as ever for Real, but Fabinho just about edges it.
Talk about a player who’s done it all.
Kroos’ ability in midfield is almost unmatched among players in his generation. He’s bossed games for Bayern Munich, Germany and Real with his outstanding vision and technical ability and shows no signs of slowing down.
Like a fine wine, Modric just keeps getting better with age.
A Ballon d’Or winner in 2018, the Croatian has continued to perform at the highest level and his performances during this season’s Champions League have been game-changing when Real have been chasing matches.
A beautiful and languid mover with the ball at his feet who works immensely hard without it, Modric is truly incredible.
A true goalscoring phenomenon, Salah started life at Anfield in scintillating form during his debut 2017/18 season and hasn’t relented.
Playing a crucial role in their Premier League and Champions League triumphs of recent years, the Egyptian is Liverpool’s talisman and rarely fails to deliver on the big occasion.
He’s spoken frequently about having unfinished business with Real, and on Saturday he’ll get his chance.
Got insurmountable odds that you need to overcome very, very quickly? Give Benzema a call.
The leading goalscorer in the Champions League this season with 15 strikes, the France international netted hat tricks against both Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea and was on top form again as Real dramatically toppled Manchester City in the semi-finals.
A major contender for the Ballon d’Or, Benzema’s spot here is unquestionable.
Rounding things off is the relentless skill and finishing ability of Mane.
His future at Anfield is very much up in the air, but he has experience in turning up in big games for Liverpool, netting their goal in the 2018 final against Real.
The 2021/22 season has been his second best in all competitions for Liverpool – no wonder there’s so much interest in him.