surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

A clash of the titans

I hate predictions but sometimes I get these premonitions. When asked by Liverpool FC's in-house TV station who would reach the final of the Champions League this season, it came to me in a flash. “It will be Real Madrid v Liverpool,” I said.

The way things have worked out, the surname Palmer must go back to the ability to read the future by looking at the wrinkles on some unsuspecting punter's hand at a Hull fairground!

And so, every time I've made a guest appearance on LFCTV I've reminded them how they politely laughed at my suggestion - they must have thought I was just being courteous.

I stick by my reasoning. Real Madrid is a team built to win the elite European trophy. Big-game players who don't necessarily turn up every week... but give them an occasion and their chests burst.

Liverpool have a side who would have been underestimated by so many but they have grown with every month of the season. Even losing Philippe Coutinho halfway through the campaign couldn't harm their momentum.

I've argued countless times that Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané is the best front three in club football this season; contrast that to the once great BBC - not the world-renowned broadcasters but the world-renowned forward line.

Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have only started FIVE out of Real Madrid's SIXTY games this season; and only gone ninety minutes together once. This underlines how fragmented Real Madrid's squad has been.

Nonetheless, when the midweek Champions League games come, the squad thrives under the floodlights and they have lived up to the expectation that they will reach the final. Again.

One conductor on the train thanked me for the tip. He put £3 on at odds of 120-1 and it has paid for his ticket to Kiev. Strangely, though, no one on Merseyside has asked for my final prediction...

Speaking to a couple of Anfield greats last week, they privately aired concerns that the players may have exhausted themselves running the marathon that is the Premier League. Hopefully the air of the Costa del Sol has restorative powers.

In contrast, Real have been cantering for several weeks and Zinedine Zidane has been able to use Liga matches as training exercises to merely sharpen his players.

I suspect Liverpool will get off to a flyer; and Real do have a habit of conceding early goals. Madrid also have the reserves of energy and talent to gather momentum and peak later in matches. They have a history of overpowering opposition in the final stages. If Liverpool lose impetus I fear it could be a heavy defeat. Five-one springs to mind.

But oh... wait on... The spirits are giving me a name... Danny Ings. Watch this space.