Football Features

“Put respect on my name” – Player ratings as Real Madrid beat Liverpool to claim 14th Champions League title

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 23:16, 28 May 2022

Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 at the Stade de France to claim their historic 14th Champions League triumph.

Los Blancos have fought against the odds all season long, knocking out the top three Premier League sides and Paris Saint-Germain despite being outplayed in every game. “They’ve beaten the best of British,” said Michael Owen afterwards, and it’s true. Football heritage powered a miracle run.

Here’s how the players rated at Stade de France:


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Liverpool

Alisson – 5 – Looked uncharacteristically nervy, leaving his line with rapid enthusiasm and messing up at the end of the first-half, allowing Madrid to score (only for VAR to rescue him). Had just two shots to deal with and let one of them in.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4 – Defended doggedly and started to work his magic in the second half but couldn’t get anything going. Caught completely unawares at the back-post for Madrid’s winning goal.

Ibrahima Konaté – 8 – Defended Vini Jr. with Araujo-like confidence and capability. Really impressive.

Virgil van Dijk – 7 – Did well for the most part but stumbled at the worst possible moment, as Valverde fizzed the ball across the box for Madrid’s tournament-winning goal.

Andrew Robertson – 7 – Charged forward well. Defended doggedly.

Fabinho – 7 – Did excellently to blanket the Madrid midfield, although he was lucky the referee ruled his touch unintentional in the VAR decision that saw Karim Benzema’s goal ruled out.

Jordan Henderson – 6 – Ran about. Gesticulated. Didn’t do much with the ball.

Thiago – 5 – Thiago isn’t usually good against Real Madrid and he didn’t buck that trend tonight. Was very safe with the ball, completing 58/62 passes (94%) but didn’t exert the kind of control Liverpool needed him to.

Mohamed Salah – 6 – An up-and-down performance from Salah, mostly positive but couldn’t get beyond the majestic Thibaut Courtois.

Luis Diaz – 5 – Ran hard at Carvajal but found him a capable opponent. Completed 3/6 take-ons but did precious little else.

Sadio Mané – 5 – Rasping shot palmed onto the post 20 minutes in was as good as it got for the Senegalese superstar.

Liverpool substitutes:

Diogo Jota (for Mané 66′) – 5 – Didn’t really get it going.

Naby Keita (for Henderson 77′) – 4 – Ballooned a good chance hysterically high and wide.

Roberto Firmino (for Thiago 77′) – 7 – Looked excellent when he came on. Immediately began knitting the Liverpool attacks together with his customary aplomb. Madrid had no idea how to handle him and you wonder why Klopp waited so long to get him on.

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Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois – 9 – An absolute masterclass from Courtois. Surely the greatest display of goalkeeping in Champions League final history. Shattered Alisson’s save record while keeping a clean sheet and was a constant bulwark in the way of Liverpool, who should absolutely have won the game on the balance of chances. They just couldn’t get beyond the brilliant Belgian.

This game was a showdown between the two best goalkeepers in the world and when the two top dons were on display, one man stood tall. Thibaut Courtois is unquestionably the greatest goalkeeper in the world.

After the game, Courtois defended his reputation: “I saw a lot of tweets coming my way, saying that I will get humbled, but it was the other way around a think,” Courtois then took aim at his critics: “today I need to win a final, for my career, for all the hard work. To put respect on my name because I don’t think I have enough, especially in England.”

On their opponents today, Courtois said: “I think we beat the best clubs in the world, together with us. Liverpool and City. They fought to the end of the Premier League, they’ve won two cups. Liverpool, today they were really strong. I think I played a great game and that was the difference because we had one chance and we scored.”

Dani Carvajal – 8 – Dogged defending against the dynamic Diaz. Got forward, too. Has really found his rhythm again after all his injury woes and it’s lovely to see.

Eder Militao – 8 – Stout defending despite his recent form. Took Chiellini-esque pride in his defensive feats. Got his head to crosses.

David Alaba – 7 – Some good blocks. A calming presence who swept passing lanes nicely.

Ferland Mendy – 8 – Really defended his flank well, preventing Liverpool gaining ground on the outside, funnelling them infield.

Casemiro – 7 – Really poor first half but responded with a supreme second period. That said, he missed a golden chance on 75 minutes to bury Liverpool.

Luka Modric – 7 – A decent performance, highlighted by some ridiculously deft work in the build-up to Madrid’s goal.

Toni Kroos – 7 – 82 passes attempted, 76 passes completed, 93% completion rate. A true metronome.

Fede Valverde – 7 – Relentlessly energetic presence. Brilliantly perceptive cross to set-up Vini for Madrid’s winning goal. A constant thorn in the side of Liverpool.

Vinicius Jr. – 7 – Ran hard but was mostly well marshalled by Liverpool. Escaped Ibou Konaté to open the scoring in the second-half, however. Scorching away from the unaware Alexander-Arnold he tapped the ball into an empty net.

Karim Benzema – 7 – Played intelligently but just couldn’t get things to fall his way. Scored but it was ruled out by VAR.

Real Madrid substitutes:

Eduardo Camavinga (for Valverde 86′) – 6 – Added a bit of thrust but his magic wasn’t needed in the end.

Dani Ceballos (for Modric 90′) – 5 – Wasted a great chance to score a second.

Rodrygo (for Vinicius 90’+2) – n/a – Came on late.

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