42 min “I think the 37th minute was your first mention of Modric,” says John Starbuck. “Hasn’t he been as usually effective yet?”
I find MBMs aren’t a great guide to individual performances, certainly not with subtler players like Modric or Xavi. But he has been pretty quiet.
41 min Robertson’s corner is headed away by Benzema to Henderson, 30 yards out, and he whistles a shot well wide. It was beautifully struck but nowhere near the target.
40 min Robertson plays a short pass into Mane in the area. He spins away from Militao, who tracks Mane well and blocks the resulting shot on the stretch. Corner to Liverpool. Mane looks really sharp by the way.
38 min After a very quiet start, Vinicius and Benzema are starting to make mischief on the left wing. It’s not an exciting game but it remains a thoroughly intriguing one.
37 min “It’s incredible to watch Thiago’s passing, really,” writes Shiladitya Pandit. “The range, the vision, the elegance on the ball, all while not being at 100%. Being the best playmaker on a pitch that also has Luka Modric on it, is a feat in itself, irrespective of what happens in the game at the end.”
36 min Vincius nutmegs Konate in the area and is about to shoot when Henderson appears on his blind side to poke the ball behind for a corner. Excellent covering.
34 min: Chance for Liverpool! Alexander-Arnold curls in a left-footed cross that is headed straight at Courtois by Salah, 12 yards out. That was a decent chance, though it was alarming how easily he lost Eder Militao. That’s Liverpool’s eighth attempt at goal and their fifth on target. Madrid? Nada. Zilch. Sweet bugger all.
34 min I told you right from the off this wouldn’t be a classic.
33 min Real are coming into the game a little more. Benzema drops off and tries to thread a pass through to Vincius Jr, but van Dijk steps across to do the necessary.
32 min Astonishingly, it seems people are still being teargassed outside the ground.
30 min Kroos’s dangerous long pass is crucially intercepted by the stretching Alexander-Arnold. Vinicius had got the wrong side of him and would have been through on goal.
30 min Here’s more on the problems outside the stadium that led to the kick off being delayed by 37 minutes.
29 min Carlo Ancelotti’s eyebrow is on the move. Status: mildly befuddled.
28 min “Strange to think of it this way,” says Hugh Molly, “but that Mane shot would have beaten any other human on the planet. Not Courtois.”
He’s definitely the unsung hero of this Real Madrid campaign – he has made an absurd number of saves throughout the competition. I think it’s something like 54 saves to Alisson’s 15. If Real win tonight, he should get a medal.
26 min Diaz has a run at Carvajal, who holds him up well and then wins a throw-in.
26 min Real enjoy their first extended, unmolested spell of possesion. Eventually Vinicius overhits a cross that is grabbed the backpedalling Alisson.
25 min “Is it me or is the camerawork a bit bizarre?” writes my colleague Tim de Lisle. “The view is so distant, except when it’s a tight close-up. It feels as if there are two directors and they’re not talking to each other.”
I think I saw that film at the Curzon Soho. I hadn’t really noticed the camerawork, though a few of you have mentioned it and I see what you mean now.
23 min Real can’t cope with Liverpool’s intensity. I suppose we said the same in the Chelsea and City ties, and look what happened there, but at the moment Liverpool are well on top.
21 min: Mane hits the post! Thiago slides a typical disguised pass into Mane on the edge of the area. He zips inside Eder Militao and whacks a shot that is pushed onto the inside of the post by the diving Courtois before rebounding to safety. That’s a marvellous save!
19 min Now Alexander-Arnold shoots over from the edge of the area after a layoff from Salah. Real haven’t got going at all.
18 min Mane lays the ball off nicely to Salah, whose rising half-volley from 18 yards is pushed down by Courtois and claimed at the second attempt. Liverpool are well on top now.
16 min: Good save from Courtois! A deep crossfield pass is headed back by Henderson to Alexander-Arnold on the right corner of the box. He wriggles away from Vinicius and Mendy before sliding a low cross that is turned towards goal by the off balance Salah, six yards out. Courtois gets down smartly to his left to save.
Liverpool keep the pressure on. Diaz has a shot blocked and then Thiago’s long-range curler is too close to Courtois.
15 min Vinicius has his first run at Konate, who calmly pokes the ball away and then muscles Vinicius away from the loose ball. Superb defending, exactly the kind of thing he was picked for.
13 min Still nothing to report. Liverpool have been the better side, though they are not playing with their usual intensity.
9 min Nothing much is happening. The atmosphere is subdued, the tempo fairly slow. It needs a chance at one end or another to get everyone going.
7 min Thiago looks okay, since you asked, but Sadio Mane is limping after a strong challenge by Casemiro.
5 min It’s been a fairly slow start. That might be down to the delayed kick-off, with both teams – Madrid especially – trying to find their bearings.
4 min “The legs in that Real midfield…” says Ruth Purdue. “It didn’t work against City so I worry for them. Need the excellent Camavinga in it. He changed the game.”
3 min An early free-kick for Liverpool on the left. Alexander-Arnold curls it in and Benzema clears. Liverpool have started on the front foot.
1 min Peep peep! At 9.37pm local time, Liverpool get the Champions League final under way.
The players are walking onto the field, so the game is about to start. Here’s a reminder of the teams.
Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Jota, Tsimikas, Matip, Elliott.
Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Substitutes: Lunin, Hazard, Nacho, Asensio, Marcelo, Lucas Vazquez, Bale, Dani Ceballos, Rodrygo, Camavinga, Isco, Mariano.
Referee Clement Turpin (France).
Thiago starts for Liverpool. His injury scare feels an age ago. Now, sorry to say, there’s a far bigger story emerging.
Thanks for all your emails. I’m trying to read as many as possible, though there’s all sorts going on.
The kick-off has been delayed again. I know this because it’s 8.30pm, and there are no footballers on the field. I think it’s going to start in the next few minutes, even though it sounds like there are still thousands of fans outside the ground.
“I’m watching it in a very quiet neighbourhood bistro in Paris,” writes Helena Horton, “mainly full of nice local couples having steak frites and little plates of dried sausage save for a deliriously drunk group of about eight Liverpool supporters all hugging each other and shouting ‘go on boys’ at various intervals – and I think so pleasantly pissed they don’t realise how at odds they are with the atmosphere. However the people here are looking on with fond amusement! It’s being shown on a small screen near the bar. I’m sat nearby eating a giant profiterole.”
Meanwhile, in the year 2022