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Beginner's guide to the Champions League final

Need to get to grips with the final ahead of Saturday? Have no fear – here are the basics.

Real Madrid's all-action defender Marcelo
Real Madrid's all-action defender Marcelo ©Getty Images

What's happening?

The UEFA Champions League final – the biggest match in club football – is being contested between two of the stellar names in the world game. Real Madrid have lifted the trophy in each of the last two seasons and are looking to claim it for a record 13th time overall. Liverpool are eyeing a sixth final victory – only their opponents and AC Milan (7) have won more.

What should I expect?

Liverpool have already set a record for most goals in a campaign this season while Real Madrid fans have been reared on free-flowing attacking football, so nobody is anticipating a cagey affair. Before the football even begins, Dua Lipa, no less, will whet the appetite with a performance at the opening ceremony. And after the final whistle blows, there will be a trophy presentation and ticker-tape reception. And some selfies. Glitz and glamour all the way.

Who should I watch out for?

There is no bigger name on the planet than Cristiano Ronaldo so that's a pretty good place to start. He is after a fifth title, is in line to be the top scorer in the competition for the sixth season in a row and is the leading marksman in the competition's history. Liverpool will not be overawed, though. Ronaldo may have 15 goals this term but Reds trio Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané have 29 between them. It can't be 0-0, can it?

What time does it all kick off?

What time is the final where you are?
What time is the final where you are?©UEFA.com

The match will begin at 20:45CET on Saturday (21:45 local time, 11:45 Los Angeles, 14:45 New York, 15:45 Rio De Janeiro, 19:45 Liverpool) – though it will be Sunday by the time things get under way in New Delhi (00:15), Beijing (02:45) and Sydney (04:45).

Is it decided on the night?

Yes. If it's level after 90 minutes then there will be extra time (15 minutes each way). If it's still all-square then there will be a penalty shoot-out, carried out in the traditional format: coin toss to decide who goes first and then take it in turns. If nobody has won after five spot kicks each, they carry on in sudden-death mode.

What prize is on offer?

How do Madrid compare with the greats?

In essence, a trophy hastily completed by a Swiss man in 1967 because he had a strict deadline: his impending marriage and honeymoon to Los Angeles. It is affectionately known as Ol' Big Ears, a reference to the fact that it's no problem carrying it around given the size of the handles.

The winners will receive the trophy on the pitch and also book a UEFA Super Cup date with Atlético Madrid at Tallinn's Lilleküla Stadium on 15 August.

Facts to slip into conversation

  • Real Madrid's Zinédine Zidane could become the first coach to win three European Cups in a row.
  • No member of Liverpool's squad has previously played in a UEFA Champions League final.
  • It pays to come early to the party: in previous UEFA Champions League finals, 18 of the 24 teams that scored first went on to lift the trophy.
  • But not too early: the scorers of three of the four quickest final goals (six minutes and under) went on to lose.