Liverpool v Real Madrid will be decided by the finest margins, so it is good news that Jürgen Klopp has one of the finest forward lines in Europe available to him. Whichever mix he chooses would be top-class however I believe he will pick a front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Luis Díaz.
Salah has incomplete business after being forced off early on with a shoulder injury the last time these teams met in a Champions League final in 2018. That will be a powerful influence on a player who, after a long season, needs to discover a last little bit of energy in the hope of securing another prize.
If you look at modern-day goalscorers such as Salah or Son Heung-min, who shared this season's Golden Boot, they are not centre-forwards, they are large players who come off the flanks to score. Salah is a gamechanger who can turn it on at a moment's notification and make the difference. When I enjoyed him in the semi-final very first leg against Villarreal, he was peaceful for 85 minutes however in the five minutes when they made the 2-0 lead he was critical. He's like a PlayStation player-- as quickly as you press the forward button, he just gets on with it.
Díaz has been truly good since getting here from Porto in January. He has actually brought a different dynamic to the Liverpool attack and should appropriately begin in Paris. The Colombian has the rate and freshness that will make him a threat. At Villarreal he changed the game and he will be confident he can do likewise on Saturday. The winger has actually pressed Mané into a more central role where he has actually been extremely remarkable, scoring 13 goals since returning in February from the Africa Cup of Nations.
Playing against Díaz may match Madrid more than if Liverpool utilized Roberto Firmino as a false 10, which would permit Mané to go back to a wide area and make it possible for Salah to play even broader in the accumulation phase. Mané and Salah could be much more effective there however I would be shocked if Klopp made a change for the final.
Liverpool might face a team who will happily sit deep and be compact, like they protested Chelsea and Manchester City sometimes. Liverpool will wish to have Thiago Alcântara fit because he is key in midfield when it comes to finding gaps in defences. If Thiago can not begin there will be more focus on getting players into the wider areas. Jordan Henderson will move wider, Naby Keïta will attempt to break through the lines and Fabinho will be in that pocket securing the defence.
If they sit deep Henderson will seek to create overloads out broad, permitting areas for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Salah down the right. I believe Liverpool will attempt to work down the flanks however with Thiago they can go centrally also. It would be a big miss for them if he can not play or is in shape enough just for, say, 20 minutes. In this type of game, they require him.
Diogo Jota and Firmino have not let anyone down this season and could be set for a crucial role. The 2 forwards have the capabilities to come off the bench and make a difference. In current times we have actually seen how many major matches have actually gone the range, from the FA Cup final to England's penalty shootout loss to Italy at Euro 2020. Substitutes can play a massive part: if it is 0-0 you need them to come on and open things up; if you are losing you require them to change it; and if you're winning you need the momentum to continue in the proper way.
Liverpool's forwards have impressed all season but their crucial player is Virgil van Dijk. He is their most important property. Salah, Mané and Thiago rightly get a great deal of kudos but if I were to take one player from the Liverpool team, I would take Van Dijk. He will need to be at his best due to the fact that Liverpool will have to keep Karim Benzema quiet. When I saw Real Madrid at Chelsea, it was a one-man Benzema program. He is the best player I've seen live in 18 months.
Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro in midfield will not wish to get in a running fight due to the fact that they will lose. But Madrid will hope their defensive structure will enable Rodrygo and, probably, Vinícius Júnior to brake with rate and turn Liverpool.
When I have enjoyed Real they have truly shocked me; they entice you into an incorrect complacency where you think they are not interested or they are not in the game however then all of a sudden they turn it on. I am not exactly sure whether they can notice a little pressure and just change gear but it is an unbelievable skill to have. They are not dominant for 90 minutes however they just do it when they need to. You can never ever rule them out.
Liverpool will not want to lose out on the Premier League by a point and follow it up with a Champions League final defeat since that would turn a possibly great season into just a good one. Luckily for them they have players who can make the difference in Paris. It is up to them to rise to the event.