Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah are on a collision course and they will clash in the greatest arena of all on May 26. They have led their teams, Real Madrid and Liverpool, into the Champions League final and their attacking brilliance should decide the outcome of the big game. Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or for the last two years after inspiring Los Blancos to two consecutive Champions League titles. He and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi have duopolised it for the past decade, but change is in the air. Most tipped Neymar to be the man to gatecrash the party, but Salah is now the favourite to walk off with the coveted title.
The Egyptian has fired in an exceptional 43 goals for the Reds this season and he won both Player of the Year awards. His goals tally is the sort usually only recorded by Ronaldo and Messi, but everything Salah touches seems to turn to goals at the moment. He was at his brilliant best in the semi-final against Roma, putting his former side to the sword with two exquisite goals and two great assists in the first leg. He is quick, dynamic and surging with belief, having delivered a remarkable improvement in his performance levels over the past 12 months.
Ronaldo is not far behind Salah in the betting to win the World Player of the Year title, and after a slow start to the 2017/18 campaign, he is really finding his feet. He too has scored 43 goals this season, and 15 of them have come in Europe. His bicycle kick against Juventus in the quarter-finals was positively jaw-dropping, a feat of tremendous technique, agility and athleticism that even had opposition fans on their feet applauding. There is little to separate these two great forwards, and whoever lifts the Champions League title could go on to scoop individual glory.
Real Madrid are the favourites check a Bookmaker review, find the most competitive odds on the market and you will find Los Blancos odds-on – and that is understandable. They thrashed Juventus in last year’s final to become the only team to ever successfully defend the trophy. They beat Atletico Madrid the previous year, and they have won the trophy in three of the last four years. They come into their own in the Champions League, driven on by a magnificent midfield trio and the predatory instincts of Ronaldo up front.
But Liverpool will go into this final full of belief and confidence. Man City were Champions League favourites, but the Reds showed no fear as they beat Pep Guardiola’s men home and away. Kevin De Bruyne and co simply could not live with Liverpool’s rampant pressing, their energy and pace and sheer physicality, and it turned into a one-sided affair. Real Madrid have some ageing legs in their team, and Liverpool will target them ruthlessly, roared on by Jurgen Klopp on the touchline.
There are question marks over both goalkeeper, and the defences look shaky too. Both teams have a defensive colossus, in Virgil van Dijk and Sergio Ramos, and both have full-backs that can whip in dangerous crosses, but both teams concede plenty of goals. Liverpool will have to find a way to neutralise Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro, who can really dominate games, but going forwards Liverpool are sensational right now. Amid all the hype surrounding Salah, it is easy to overlook the amazing season Roberto Firmino is enjoying, while Sadio Mane is returning to his best, and that is an attacking triumvirate to strike fear in Real Madrid hearts. But ultimately it could well come down to Salah v Ronaldo, to which one raises his game in the pressured situation and fires his side to glory.