Liverpool’s lethal front three are expected to line up in Paris against Real Madrid and Marco Asensio is under no illusions about the threat the triumvirate pose
The Reds will go into the showpiece event at the Stade de France hoping to claim their third trophy of the season after seeing their quadruple hopes dashed by Manchester City, who retained the Premier League title by a single point. Jurgen Klopp is expected to be able to field his strongest XI, with Mohamed Salah returning to action with a goal against Wolves on Sunday.
Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota have scored 75 goals between them in all competitions this season, while the £49m arrival of Luis Diaz in January has injected new lease of life into the Reds’ attack. And all four possess the ability to run in behind a Madrid defence that may be lacking in the pace required to deal with the dangerous quartet.
When asked how Real will go about preparing tactically to face Liverpool, Asensio kept his cards close to his chest, but admitted Liverpool’s pace could cause a problem. However, the Spanish winger is keen to add to his collection of three Champions League titles, and feels his side can use their experience in the competition to see them through.
“We do not know that yet, it happens during the games,” he told Spanish outlet Marca. “But you have to prepare all the phases of the game and analyse the rival. We have to focus above all on ourselves, on our virtues, try not to make mistakes so that they don’t take advantage of it.
“They have very fast players up front. Taking care of all that and then there is the heart, the passion we have to achieve another Champions League and how competitive we all are. It is no coincidence that we have reached so many finals and won so many titles.”
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Klopp’s side have perhaps had a more straightforward route to the final than their opponents after beating Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal on their way to reaching their third Champions League final under the German coach. The Spanish giants, meanwhile, have beaten some of the competition’s favourites, knocking out PSG in the round of 16 knockout, winners Chelsea in the quarter-finals and dumping out Man City in a dramatic semi-final tie.
They have also been able to manage the fitness of star striker Karim Benzema, who has hit 15 goals in the competition this term — including 10 in six knockout ties, after wrapping up the domestic title in April. Asensio contributed to that win after spending over a year out with a serious ACL injury. Having been at the Santiago Bernabeu for seven years, the 26-year-old was not surprised by their stunning comebacks in the competition this year.
“Yes I can believe it, although it’s true that it has been a very different Champions League from previous seasons, as all of the knockout stages have been comebacks,” he said, when asked about Madrid’s ability to bounce back from the brink. They were incredible matches which, when they finished, we had no idea what had happened. There is a relationship with the fans that there hasn’t been for a long time. It has been very special for everyone.”