With the domestic campaign in the rearview mirror, soccer bettors can turn their attention to the final match of the season: the Champions League Final.
Taking place at the Stade de France, 2019 Champions League victors Liverpool will battle Real Madrid, winners of four UCL titles since the 2013-14 campaign. This will be a rematch of the 2018 Champions League Final, which saw Real claim its third consecutive European crown after dispatching Liverpool, 3-1.
However, the betting markets rate Liverpool as the favorite to win this year’s competition — the Reds are a -185 favorite to lift the trophy and are +110 for the 90 minutes.
Before placing your wagers, let’s break down each side’s performance thus far and its outlook ahead of Saturday’s final.
Liverpool reached the final with relative ease
Manager Jurgen Klopp’s side encountered little resistance on its path to the Champions League final. The six-time European Cup winners used strong performances in the opening legs — 2-0 vs. Inter, 3-1 vs. Benfica and 2-0 vs. Villarreal — to all but guarantee advancement. Plus, Liverpool produced strong underlying metrics in the knockout stage and enters the final as a candidate for positive regression.
In its six knockout matches, Liverpool produced a +6 goal differential, but had a +7.5 expected goal differential in those fixtures.
Additionally, Liverpool’s defense has played rock-steady in its last six UCL fixtures. Dating back to the opening leg against Inter Milan, Liverpool has kept all but one opponent under one expected goal and three of six opponents under 0.4 expected goals, per fbref.com.
Liverpool has only conceded 0.68 expected goals per 90 minutes in its six knockout stage fixtures against 1.95 expected goals per 90 minutes on the offensive end. Even if you remove the two Benfica matches from consideration, Liverpool’s offensive output drops to only 1.53 xG/90 minutes.
Luck has come in spades for Real Madrid
Some may call Real Madrid a potential “team of destiny,” but I prefer to label it what it actually is — lucky.
Real’s underlying metrics are quite concerning and qualify it as a potential negative regression candidate. In considering its six knockout stage fixtures — excluding the extra-time periods against Chelsea and Manchester City — Real has posted a +1 goal differential against a -1.5 expected goal differential.
Add in its two group stage fixtures against Inter Milan and the discrepancy becomes even larger. In those eight fixtures, Real has posted a +3 goal differential on a -2.7 expected goal differential, per fbref.com.
Most of Real’s underlying issues can be attributed to its defense, which has conceded 1.81 expected goals per 90 minutes in its six knockout stage fixtures (extra time included) and at least 1.5 expected goals in three straight fixtures.
That said, its attack has generated decent scoring opportunities. In its last five UCL fixtures, Real’s offense has generated 1.76 xG/90 minutes. Further, only one opponent has held it under 1.5 expected goals.
For the reasons outlined above, I would play Liverpool up to -145 in regular time as I have it projected at -160. Additionally, although I doubt it will dip this low, I would play the Reds up to -165 to lift the trophy as I have it projected at -190 in that market.