In a few hours, Liverpool and Real Madrid will lock horns to decide the best team in Europe for the 2017/18 season.
A bunch of moving parts — the standout players, formation, tactical wit of the coaches — will be at play when the run around begins in Kiev.
Jurgen Klopp has lost his last five finals while Zidane has won two of the last three he’s coached.
Regardless of past feats and near misses by Zidane and Klopp respectively, both coaches are optimistic and cautious, going into the game.
“Football is simple. There are two teams and you need to understand the opponent can hurt you and control that,” said Zidane ahead of the final.
“Then when you have the ball you need to try to do them harm with your style of play. We’re not favourites, nor are they.
“It’s 50-50 as finals always are. We’re happy to be here and play another final. We’ll never live this again. We’ll live other moments but we’ll never have today and tomorrow again.
“We need to take advantage. If there’s pressure, well, that’s life. It makes it better. The die obviously are cast.”
Klopp says his boys are going into the match with nothing to lose, acknowledging the upper hand Madrid have in the experience department.
As far as Kloop is concerned: “We had an agreement when we started working together that I’m responsible for any defeats, the boys are responsible for when we win.
“So, they have nothing to lose. Experience is very important and I’m pretty sure a second before the game Madrid will be more confident than us.
“But it doesn’t matter because the game doesn’t stop there, it only starts. They’ve not played us and we are Liverpool – not only a good football team, but we have in our DNA to go for big things.”
According to the Champions League magazine, Real Madrid’s formation is in this shape; Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Ronaldo and Bale.
For Liverpool, Karius is the preferred goalkeeper, and in front of him are; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Loveren, Robertson, Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum, Mane, Firmino and Mohammed Salah.
The final has been dubbed a straight fight between Ronaldo and the impressive Salah. Both players have been in terrific form all year long.
Looking to win a fifth Champions League title, Ronaldo comes into the final having scored nine goals in his last 10 games for club and country while Salah heads to Kiev on the back of eight goals in his last 10 games.
Ronaldo has scored 50 goals for club and country in 2017/18, two more than Salah.
The Egyptian’s tally of 32 goals is a new record for a 38-game English Premier League season – extraordinary for a player who only joined the club last summer.
No club had ever won the UEFA Champions League back to back or reached the final thrice in a row until Real Madrid did both, and Liverpool has not won a trophy for the past few years, plus they have a coach who has suffered defeats in his last five finals.
The odds are against the Reds, but hey, this is football, where only the present matters. Records and past accolades don’t count when 22 men are kicking the leather ball around the pitch.