Best bets and expert predictions for Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Best bets and expert predictions for Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Best bets and expert predictions for Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

The competition began with 80 teams, but just two left as Liverpool and Real Madrid face off at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France, just north of Paris.

It’s a matchup fitting of the occasion, as two of the most powerful clubs in the world meet. Liverpool are coming off a domestic double of cup titles, while Real Madrid ran away with the La Liga crown.

Ahead of the big game, The Sporting News breaks down the betting angles for the season’s crowning event

Liverpool, having bulldozed their way through the Champions League and proven to be a dominant force on multiple fronts this season, is the clear favorite. But the betting market is definitely not counting out Real Madrid.

The Reds are considered half-goal favorites, but Real Madrid are at minus odds on the spread, showing just how close this matchup is expected to be. Such is often the case in high-profile showdowns such as this where the two teams are both considered powerhouse sides.


The betting markets also project plenty of goals in this match, with both teams expected to score, and the over 2.5 total goals the favorite..

That would be a departure from recent trends, since the Champions League final is typically a cagey encounter between two sides trying to avoid making a major error. Only four goals have been scored in the last three Champions League finals, and one team has been held scoreless in all three.

While conventional wisdom would have Liverpool as the “better” team (whatever that’s worth in a massive game such as this), betting against Real Madrid’s Champions League magic also feels foolish. Who knows if that magic will finally runs out, or if Karim Benzema has yet another spell to weave?

Both teams have plus odds in this match, and rightly so. It’s essentially a coin-flip, and the team that makes the fewest mistakes will hoist the trophy. While Real Madrid concede more chances, to the tune of 15.1 shots per Champions League game compared to Liverpool’s 6.7, Los Blancos are built around punishing opponent mistakes. That is why Real Madrid are so good late in games; they lie in wait until a tired opponent begins to falter.

While Liverpool have the edge on paper, there are also signs that the Reds are slipping. Recent Premier League struggles against lesser teams are cause for concern, and the potential loss of Thiago to injury is a big blow.

A Champions League final hasn’t finished level since 2016 when Real Madrid topped rivals Atletico Madrid. After watching the thrilling Europa League final decided on penalties, this one could experience the same ending. In a game in which it’s impossible to separate the teams, it’s perhaps best not to try separating them at all.


For a time, major domestic and European finals grew a reputation for being cagey affairs, with teams hoping to escape at least the first half without losing the match before going on to try and win it after the break. That’s no longer the case.

In the modern game, European finals have more often than not delivered on the massive buildup. While the last three Champions League finals have all gone under the 2.5 total goals, one of them (PSG vs. Bayern) had an expected goals (xG) total that surpassed 2.5 goals, while another (Liverpool vs. Tottenham) featured 30 shots and came very close.

When you look even closer, there’s another factor at play — the teams. Real Madrid have played in four Champions League finals since 2014, winning all four. Across those four matches, only one opponent — notoriously cagey Atletico Madrid — managed to keep the over 2.5 total goals from hitting. In fact, going all the way to 2000, that 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid was the only Champions League final that went under the total across the six featuring Real Madrid.

Liverpool have a similar track record. The win over Spurs in 2019 was the only of Liverpool’s last four Champions League finals to go under the total. Losses to Madrid and AC Milan, plus the famous comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul all went over 2.5 total goals.

Both teams have also been afforded the opportunity to rest players in the buildup. Real Madrid have been clear league champions for weeks, with Carlo Ancelotti rotating nearly his entire squad in the La Liga run-in. While Liverpool have not been afforded the same luxury, manager Jurgen Klopp still has employed a regular dose of squad changeover to keep players fresh. Liverpool’s Fabinho is expected to be back and healthy, while Real Madrid’s older veterans will have rejuvenated legs.

For a late-season European final with the game’s most coveted trophy on the line, 2.5 total goals is a high bar to clear, and there’s not much value on this selection either. But in massive tilts like this, real value is always hard to come by. Go with the result you think most likely, and ignore the odds.


If Real Madrid have one glaring weakness this season, it’s starting slow.

Across their six Champions League knockout matches, Real Madrid conceded first five times — twice to Man City, once to Chelsea, and twice to PSG.

It’s happened in recent big La Liga matches, too: Madrid conceded a first-half penalty to third-placed Atletico Madrid in the early-May derby and couldn’t muster a comeback. They saw fourth-placed Sevilla go 2-0 up before the break in mid-April prior to mounting a three-goal comeback. Second-placed Barcelona bagged a pair before halftime in the 4-0 demolition in mid-March, and sixth-placed Real Sociedad got a 10th minute goal before Madrid shook off the cobwebs for a 4-1 win.

If anything, Real Madrid have trademarked the comeback mentality, with remarkable fightbacks in all three knockout series. The incredible turnaround against Man City even had the legendary Lionel Messi dropping expletives in disbelief.

Liverpool have also shown early weaknesses of late, with quick slips against Southampton, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton in league play, as well as Villarreal in the Champions League semifinals. But a look at the club’s year-long track record shows that’s more of a late-season blip than anything else.

Prior to the second leg against Villarreal, Liverpool had scored first in four of its five knockout matches, and five of its six group stage games. Big Premier League matches were no different, scoring first in the Man City game at Anfield back in October, in the draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in early January, and obviously all four shutout victories over Arsenal and Man United. In fact, Tottenham were the only team in the league this season to do the “score first double” over Liverpool, forcing the Reds to come from behind in both draws.


The betting trends say that the Premier League side should be the first to find the back of the net, but that goal will most certainly not signal the game is over.

While Liverpool are likely to come out of the gates with pressure, Real Madrid will no doubt lie in wait.

Karim Benzema is one of the hottest strikers in the world at the moment, and while he was held off the board in Madrid’s La Liga finale against Real Betis, that should only make Benzema hungrier.

Incredibly, the last time Benzema went more than two games without scoring came in late October, when he went scoreless in La Liga matches against Barcelona and Osasuna.

Since then, every time Benzema has failed to score, he has made up for it the next game. Benzema has also scored in all but two of his Champions League games this season, including at least one goal in each of his past five, for a total of ten goals.

I’ll take plus odds on the world’s best finisher.



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