Although the 2018 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid is fresher in the minds of most football fans, it’s worth remembering that it was not the first time the Reds and Los Blancos went head-to-head in the showpiece match of Europe’s premier club competition.
As the countdown continues towards this year’s final in Paris, where once again Liverpool and Real Madrid will do battle, it’s a good time to look back at the 1981 showpiece, where Bob Paisley’s Reds triumphed in, you guessed it, Paris.
Let’s have a quick look back at how things panned out that night, and also analyse how Liverpool’s current squad can use the club’s history as motivation for the present, where they are considered slight favourites in the Liverpool v Real Madrid betting odds.
A memorable triumph
As we cast our minds back some 41 years, we’re thinking about a time in which Liverpool were a regular fixture in the European Cup final. The club had won the tournament in 1977 and 1978, and after two successive triumphs for Nottingham Forest, the Reds found themselves back in the European showpiece in 1981.
The early rounds of that European Cup campaign had been pretty straight forward for Liverpool. Oulun Palloseura, Aberdeen and CSKA Sofia had all been eliminated with hefty aggregate scorelines, and after a hard-fought away-goals victory over Bayern Munich in the semi-finals, Paisley’s men were into the final.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, had enjoyed a similarly comfortable passage, getting the better of Inter Milan in the final four. Los Blancos’ defence was their major asset, and Liverpool were going to have to be at their best as Real Madrid sought a first European Cup since 1966.
The match itself was a relatively cagey affair, with Real Madrid arguably boasting the clearer openings. As the game entered its final throes though, Liverpool began to seize control. Left-back Alan Kennedy latched onto a throw-in, evaded a Real Madrid defender, and lashed the ball into the net from a tight angle to earn the lead and send the Reds fans inside the Parc des Princes into delirium. Liverpool held on to win what was, at the time, their third European Cup triumph.
The task at hand
So, how can the current Liverpool use this piece of history as motivation? For one, it was felt that it was perhaps Real Madrid’s destiny to win the European Cup that year after such a lengthy winless run by their standards. However, Liverpool came and spoiled the party, which is exactly what Jürgen Klopp’s side will be hoping to do in a couple of weeks’ time.
Real Madrid have survived some epic tussles in this year’s Champions League, in stark contrast to Liverpool’s comparatively blissful passage to the final. They may feel they have their name on the trophy as a result, but the Reds will be keen to deny Carlo Ancelotti and co. from getting their hands on the famous old trophy.
To watch footage from the 1981 final is to witness a sea of red in the stands of the Parc des Princes. One constant over the years has been Liverpool’s incredible support, and you can bet that tens of thousands of fans will be getting their hands on tickets by hook or by crook.
There will doubtless be fans present in Paris this year who were there in the French capital 41 years ago. This is a club with rich, fervent European history, and if Liverpool’s players can harness that on the night, they’ll take some stopping.