The great debate of youth or experience will take center stage in Kiev, with a Liverpool squad averaging an age of 25 taking on the experienced Real Madrid. 

By 90Min
May 20, 2018

The great debate of youth or experience will take center stage in Kiev in less than a week's time, with a Liverpool squad averaging an age of 25 taking on the dominant European force that is Real Madrid

The two sides are currently on polar opposite ends of the road leading to success, with the Reds clinching just two trophies in the same time it has taken the Spanish giants to lift 18 since 2006.

Yet, despite the share of experience heavily favoring Real Madrid, Liverpool's perceived weakness may just be the ace up the sleeve needed to topple their Spanish counterparts' stranglehold on the Champions League trophy. 

Zero experience in a European Cup final across the entirety of Liverpool's squad may be enough to start the rumblings of nerves deep in the gut of any member of the Anfield faithful. 

And the knowledge of the Spanish outfit having played in four of the last five Champions League finals - winning three - may just very well ensure any hope of remaining sane in the lead up to the game is all but gone. 

But this is where Liverpool thrive. Where Jurgen Klopp inspires and where the Liverpool supporters answer the call when all odds seemed to be stacked against the club.

It may be an unfamiliar environment and occasion for the Reds' playing squad, but not for Liverpool. 

The club was built for this very occasion, and if the European road traveled this season is a sign of things to come, then Real Madrid are going to need every last ounce of experience to make it four in five. 

Klopp already laid down the challenge to his chargers earlier this week as he told the Liverpool Echo: "They [Real] are favorites, they know everything, they could write the script for the final because they have experienced it four times in the last five years.

“In the end it will be a test: what's bigger the desire to win a third one in a row or the desire to win the first one for some years?"

Although the Reds will be hoping to dispel such aura of Real Madrid, they have made inroads in establishing one of their own throughout their ventures through Hoffenheim and Maribor, Manchester and Rome - all of which have showcased an unrelenting energy which forces the opposition into submission. 

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Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are the obvious headliners for such approach after netting 29 goals between them in Europe this term - and combining for 127 in all competitions.

The trio are entering the prime of their career and despite combining for only two Swiss Super League titles, the Austrian Bundesliga title and the Austrian Cup, their season's worth of work speaks volumes. 

A combination of blistering pace, runs off the shoulder and a continual interchange in positions can bamboozle the best of defenses, to which Real Madrid do not necessarily possess.   

Three members of Real's regular back-line are aged 30 or over, and the obvious player to target is Marcelo. For all his experience, the Brazilian is culpable of drifting too far up the field - enabling Salah to expose the space should he do the same in Kiev.

It will be a dangerous game to play for Real Madrid, as while they might have the know-how to navigate a game of such magnitude, the Reds, once given a sight of goal, are capable of inflicting maximum punishment within a matter of minutes.Throughout their European campaign this season, Liverpool have scored two or more goals in 12 of their 14 games. And 10 of those have come as a result of devastating spells, with the semi-final against Roma at Anfield the obvious example after netting five goals in the space of 33 minutes.

And the key to it all is youthful exuberance and the absence of mental scars within the competition, as luckily for Liverpool most of the current squad were absent for the misfortune of their last appearance in the Champions League under Brendan Rodgers. 

Unlike the now Celtic manager, Klopp - in his first season at Europe's top table with Liverpool - has unshackled any lingering weight of expectation from his players, and full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are the main benefactors of such free flowing football. 

The former is an academy product from the club and the latter an £8m signing from the relegated Hull City last term. The unlikeliest of duos have become the corner stones of Liverpool's charge to the final, and while their attacking flair is key, it is their defensive duties under pressure which will be paramount inside the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium. 

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Their unfailing ability to play without restrictions ensure from back to front the Reds are squeezing the opposition high up the field and forcing them to play in areas they are not comfortable in doing so. 

But, one cannot forget the plethora of talent littered throughout Zinedine Zidane's squad, as they too have a front line worth writing about. 

Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale may not be as destructive as they have been previously, but their experience has afforded them the composure required to make the most of their chances. 

Yet, as Klopp alluded to previously, there is an expectation of Real making it a third in succession. For Liverpool, it is a free hit. They are not expected to conquer a Madrid side with 40 Champions League medals between them. How could they, people cry.

Convincing victories over Manchester City and Roma, not to mention Porto and other members of Liverpool's group, have laid out a blueprint for how they must play the final.

Now it is simply time to use the ace up their sleeve and force Real Madrid into submission with blistering football, where desire is needed to overpower their opponents' vast experience.  

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