Real Madrid has been compared to a cat with nine lives by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin after their spectacular journey to the Champions League final.
The Spanish LaLiga champions fought back from a 2-0 deficit on aggregate against Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 round, then held off a Chelsea comeback in the quarter-finals.
However, their comeback against Manchester City in the semi-finals eclipsed those triumphs.
Ceferin said that he believed the Spanish giants’ aspirations were over.
When City led 5-3 on aggregate heading into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, an all-English final in Paris loomed, only for a Rodrygo double and Benzema’s penalty in extra time to turn the tie around sensationally.
The May 28 climax will now pit Real Madrid against Liverpool, two long-time champions of the league, in a matchup that Ceferin describes as “insanely exciting.”
“Already in the semi-finals, I doubted that Real could eliminate Manchester City, especially after the defeat in the first game.”
City won 4-3 in Manchester and led 1-0 in Madrid through Riyad Mahrez’s goal before the late flurry from the hosts.
“They have nine lives like cats,” Ceferin said in an interview with Slovenian news website 24ur.com.
The UEFA boss noted the experience in the Madrid ranks, yet he questioned the strength of Carlo Ancelotti’s defence, describing it as “weak”.
“But they have the miraculous Karim Benzema, for whom I have often said that.
“In my opinion, he is one of the most underrated players in football history.
“Luka Modric, the older he is, the better.”
Benzema has scored a competition-high 15 goals for Madrid in the Champions League this season in just 11 games.
Those goals have come at a rate of one every 67.7 minutes.
He is an obvious threat to Liverpool’s hopes of winning a third cup competition this season.
Ceferin believes both sides have their merits, with Madrid’s experience punching against the relative youth of Liverpool.
“I wouldn’t dare to predict the winner. As a rule, I misjudge. it’s impossible to predict,” he said. “This will be an insanely interesting final.”
Off the field, Ceferin says he has had no recent contact with Madrid senior officials.
After the club were a key player behind the failed push for a European Super League.
“The time will come when these things will be cleared up, but they will certainly not be on the pitch.”
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