Liverpool fans outnumber, outsing Real Madrid

Liverpool fans watch a large screen in Anfield stadium in Liverpool, northern England on May 26, 2018 showing the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Kiev. (AFP / OLI SCARFF)
Updated 27 May 2018
0

Liverpool fans outnumber, outsing Real Madrid

  • The game kicked off with Liverpool fans’ current Champions League song, “Allez, Allez, Allez,” booming around the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
  • Both teams were allocated more than 16,000 tickets for the game.

KIEV, Ukraine: Liverpool fans are outnumbering and outsinging Real Madrid’s following in the 63,000-capacity crowd.
Both teams’ fan anthems were played before kickoff and the red scarves of Liverpool fans peppered one corner of the end occupied by Madrid supporters during “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The game kicked off with Liverpool fans’ current Champions League song, “Allez, Allez, Allez,” booming around the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
Both teams were allocated more than 16,000 tickets for the game.
UEFA expects a global television audience of more than 160 million for the Champions League final.
Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA’s marketing director, says the audience rating will include viewers watching the game streamed live on YouTube in Britain.
Epstein tells The Associated Press that Real Madrid and Liverpool have “two strong brands” and global appeal.
Liverpool, which has a strong following in Asia, is also playing in its first Champions League final for 11 years.
“There has been a lot of hype with the way the teams qualified,” Epstein says. “It’s been a mad season.”
The best-performing recent final was a 175 million “global in-home average audience” for the 2011 final when Barcelona beat Manchester United.
Cristiano Ronaldo leads the Real Madrid attack needing to score twice to match his own single-season Champions League record.
The Madrid star has 15 goals in the competition, and got 17 in the 2013-14 title-winning season. His record year included a penalty in the last minute of extra time in the final to cap a 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo seems sure to be the Champions League top scorer for the sixth straight year, and outright top scorer in five of them.
He is five goals ahead of Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, who have 10 each. Sadio Mane, who also starts in the Liverpool attack, has nine.
It’s the same Madrid lineup as last year’s final — a 4-1 win against Juventus.

The lineups:
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric; Francisco ‘Isco’ Alarcon, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema.
Liverpool: Loris Karius; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, James Milner; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.


Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

Updated 37 min 12 sec ago
0

Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

  • New boss Jorge Jesus to give start to new star signing after $17 million move from Al-Ain last week.
  • Al-Hilal coach keen to put on a good show in London and start season with silverware against Al-Ittihad.

LONDON: Jorge Jesus confirmed Omar Abdulrahman will make his Al-Hilal debut in the Saudi Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad on Saturday.
The UAE playmaker joined the Saudi Pro League champions last week in a loan deal from Al-Ain that was worth $17 million, a fee that has only been surpassed once in football history. 
The 26-year-old has been training with his new teammates at English football’s HQ at St. George’s Park this week and traveled down to London on Friday with the rest of the team ahead of the showpiece game at Loftus Road.
Abdulrahman has not played since May, when Al-Ain were dumped out of the AFC Champions League by Lekhwiya, and he was not considered for the Arab Club Champions Club on Sunday, but Jesus said the 2016 Asian Player of the Year is line to make his first appearance for his boyhood club this weekend.
“Omar is training with the team for five or six days,” said Jesus. “Intelligent players like Omar learn fast, so that’s why he will be part of the game.”
There are various subplots to the game in west London, not least the fact that Al-Ittihad coach Ramon Diaz comes up against the club that fired him in February. He won the double in the first season in Riyadh and then choreographed Al-Hilal’s run to the final of the AFC Champions League in his second. Now he goes up against Jesus, the Portuguese tactician who replaced him this summer.
“It’s true Diaz could know the players more and this could influence the match, but they are working with my ideas today and I expect the match to be an excellent game,” said Jesus.
Al-Hilal lost the Super Cup the last time it was held in London, losing to Al-Ahli on penalties in a thriller at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground. Jesus knows this year’s match could provide a launchpad for the season ahead and broaden the appeal of football in the Kingdom. 
“Everybody knows the importance of this match, because we play outside Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It represents the image of our football. We are happy to be present in London and play the Saudi Super Cup here. The eyes of Europe sees London as the center of football, so we need to create a good image of Saudi football.”

Jorge Jesus is looking to get his reign as Al-Hilal coach off to a winning start at QPR's Loftus Road ground on Saturday. 


Jesus will be without the injured Salman Al-Faraj, Abdullah Otayf and Nawaf Al-Abed while national team full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani will undergo a late fitness test. 
“We are missing some players but that should not reduce the importance of some players we have in the squad,” said Jesus. “We have to find our best combination of players to go to the match with.”
Mohammad Al-Shalhoub will captain the side from midfield following the departure of Osama Hawsawi and knows bragging rights are up for grabs on Saturday between Saudi Arabia’s two most successful clubs who have won the top prize in the Kingdom 23 times between them.
“It’s one match, there is no other chance,” he said. “We will do our best to win the cup. We can start the season well if we win this cup. We will fight hard to win, but Ittihad is doing their hardest to win it, too. We are super motivated to show a good level and start with a Saudi Super Cup victory.”
Al-Hilal labored to a 1-0 win over Al-Shabab on Sunday night and know they will need to be much nearer their best against last season’s King’s Cup winners.
“In the beginning of the season, you can have some difficulties,“ Al-Shalhoub said. “Our first home game in the Arab Cup we showed a good level, but we have to me more ready against Ittihad.”