Liverpool can complete a cup treble at the Stade de France this weekend, but Paul Merson suspects Real Madrid are well rested and have “lethal” options to win the game
Jurgen Klopp’s side take on mighty Real Madrid in Saturday’s final in Paris with the chance to lift the greatest prize in European club football. But former Arsenal and England forward Paul Merson reckons Ancelotti’s ice-cool touchline demeanour and some lethal finishing from Karim Benzema could prove the difference.
And Merson, who won five major trophies with the Gunners and played at the World Cup with England, reckons the Reds are in for the fight of their lives. Writing in his Daily Star column, Merson said: “Karim Benzema looks like he’s ready to crush Liverpool’s Champions League dreams.
“Because if Liverpool play like they did against Wolves, then Real Madrid will score five against them in the Champions League final. Benzema just looks like he’s destined to win it this year – I don’t know how Liverpool stop him.
“He’s not getting 20 chances a game. But he’s been absolutely lethal. He gets a half chance and it’s curtains. Madness. The goals he’s scored have been truly world-class as well. And Real Madrid don’t panic. The manager isn’t running around shouting and screaming. He’s as calm as you like.
“That will be in the back of Liverpool’s minds the whole game because Real Madrid have come back from the dead three times already in this competition. They were battered by Paris Saint-Germain, slaughtered by Manchester City, and minutes away from going out to Chelsea as well.
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“But they don’t panic. The manager just stands there on the touchline, cool as you like. And they find a way to score. A couple of weeks ago I thought Madrid had no chance. But Liverpool look tired. They’re carrying injuries and not playing well. I think it will be a hard game.”
Merson also reckons Real have another big advantage – they will be more well-rested after clinching the LaLiga glory in double-quick time. He said: “The big thing is that Real Madrid won their league weeks ago as well. Liverpool have had to keep going and going chasing Manchester City. They’ve had hard game after hard game and they’ve just had to go through the emotional pain of missing out on the title on the final day.
“It’s hard. I think this game is going to be a lot closer than I thought it would be a few weeks ago. And Liverpool will have to play a lot better than they have recently to win it. They’re going to have a lot of the ball at times, but when Real Madrid break on you, they have Benzema and Vinicius Jnr coming at you – and they will hurt Liverpool. Liverpool can’t afford to give up too many chances or Real Madrid will punish them.”