Three key duels in the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool

The contributions of Ronaldo and Salah could shape the final. (AFP/Getty Images)
Updated 26 May 2018
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Three key duels in the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool

  • Marcelo will have to find a way to stop Salah
  • Ronaldo will come up against the mountainous van Dijk

The two highest scoring sides in this season's Champions League face off for the title when defending champions Real Madrid and Liverpool go head-to-head in Kiev on Saturday. With goals seemingly guaranteed in the Ukrainian capital, we look at the key matchups where the game could be won and lost.

Virgil van Dijk vs. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo is looking to join an esteemed group of 10 players to win five European Cups by scoring in his fourth separate final.
After a slow start to the season, the World Player of the Year has been in stunning form since the turn of the year, scoring 30 goals in 23 appearances for club and country in 2018.
Ronaldo leads the Champions League goalscorers charts for the sixth consecutive season with 15, but will come up against the world's most expensive defender in £75 million ($100 million) Dutchman Virgil van Dijk in Kiev.
Van Dijk already looks worth the massive price Liverpool paid Southampton for his services in January, as much for the improvement he has inspired in those around him as his own performances.
"I feel also personally much more confident when you know you have a really good partner next to you," said Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren.
"He's a leader, he takes control," added right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. "He's really got authority."

Mohamed Salah vs. Marcelo

Salah has been the star turn of Liverpool's season, scoring 44 goals in his debut season at Anfield to plunder a series of individual Player of the Year awards.
The Egyptian should get plenty of space to showcase his blistering pace and new-found calm in front of goal in the space normally left unoccupied by Madrid's cavalier left-back Marcelo.
Salah exploited the gaps left by the Brazilian on numerous occasions when Roma were eliminated by Madrid from the Champions League two seasons ago, when Salah lacked the killer finishing touch he has demonstrated this season to take his chances.
Bayern Munich right-back Joshua Kimmich scored in both legs of this season's semi-final against Real with Marcelo caught out of position.
However, the Madrid vice-captain, now in his 11th year at the Bernabeu, makes up for his defensive liabilities by bombing forward at every opportunity to wreak havoc at the other end.
"I know exactly how I have to play," insisted Marcelo on Friday.
The flying full-back has scored against Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern on route to the final, and also has plenty of positive experience in Champions League finals having netted in 2014 and 2016, in a penalty shootout, against Atletico Madrid.

Roberto Firmino vs. Sergio Ramos

Overshadowed by Salah's sensational season, Firmino also has 10 Champions League goals to his name this season and is the key starting point for Jurgen Klopp's pressing game.
"He's not bothered about hard work, which is another important thing," said Klopp when Firmino recently extended his contract to 2023. "For an offensive player that is pretty rare in world football."
Described as a cross between a goalscoring number nine and creative number 10 by Brazil coach Tite, Liverpool will hope Firmino's movement can drag another Madrid Champions League specialist in Ramos out of position.
Madrid captain Ramos embodies this Real side as he tends to save his best for the big occasion.
The Spaniard started Real's recent run of European dominance with a stoppage time equaliser against Atletico in the 2014 final and also scored against Real's local rivals two years later in another all-Madrid showpiece.


England’s Oliver Fisher cards first 59 in European Tour history

Updated 21 September 2018
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England’s Oliver Fisher cards first 59 in European Tour history

  • The 30-year-old tapped in for par on the final hole to complete an astonishing 12-under-par round featuring 10 birdies and an eagle
  • Fisher, who was regarded as a possible future star as a teenage amateur, is ranked down at 287 in the world and had missed 11 cuts in his 22 previous events

VILAMOURA: Unheralded Englishman Oliver Fisher fired the first round of 59 in the European Tour’s 46-year history on a remarkable second day of the Portugal Masters on Friday.
The 30-year-old tapped in for par on the final hole to complete an astonishing 12-under-par round featuring 10 birdies and an eagle, after his long birdie putt for a 58 grazed the edge of the hole.
“It feels great, I started great and I kept it going,” Fisher said. “Just pleased I two-putted from 40 feet on the final green.”
Fisher, who was regarded as a possible future star as a teenage amateur, is ranked down at 287 in the world and had missed 11 cuts in his 22 previous events this season.
He also had to battle to save his tour card at the same tournament two years ago, but scaled heights that thousands of players had failed to reach before with his efforts on Friday.
“Two years ago I was on the same green just trying to keep my card, so I was keeping that in the back of my mind and trying to remember that it could be worse,” he added.
Fisher’s round gave him the clubhouse lead on 12-under for the tournament, with the majority of players still on the course.
Two other men had come close to the magical number at the Portugal Masters, with Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts both missing putts to break 60 in 2013 and 2014 respectively.