Carlo Ancelotti will reportedly send on back-up Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin if the Champions League final against Liverpool goes to penalties.
The two sides meet in Paris on May 28 for their second clash in the final in four years. The Spanish side won 3-1 in 2018, with Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius proving particularly influential for the wrong reasons.
Still, Liverpool’s run-in to the Champions League final has seen their current goalkeepers impress. Caoimhin Kelleher starred in the Carabao Cup win over Chelsea, while Alisson Becker helped Jurgen Klopp’s men win the FA Cup.
And while the Champions League final caps a huge ending to a busy end-of-season period for Liverpool, Madrid have been able to experiment after winning La Liga at the end of April.
And according to Defensa Central, Ancelotti has made Lunin his choice for a Champions League final shoot-out.
The Ukrainian has played two of the past three games and had to face two penalties in that time. He failed to save Yannick Carrasco’s effort in Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to city rivals Atletico.
However, Lunin kept Alvaro Negredo out from 12 yards in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Cadiz.
That made the 23-year-old the youngest Real Madrid goalkeeper to save a penalty in La Liga since at least the 2008/09 season.
As a result, the report claims that Lunin is now at the forefront of Ancelotti‘s thinking for the final. Should Ancelotti bring Lunin on after extra time – if it goes that far – he would be following in Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final footsteps.
On that occasion, though, Kepa Arrizabalaga failed to save any penalties and missed his own as Liverpool won.
Lunin, Courtois penalty records
Madrid have shown they are a team of moments and capable of turning any bad situation around. Indeed, they came back against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester to City to reach the final.
Should the Champions League showpiece go to spot-kicks, though, Courtois has actually saved more penalties (3) than Lunin’s one – albeit in more games – this season.
Nevertheless, Defensa Central adds that master tactician Ancelotti is leaving nothing to chance.
As such, he has seen something in Lunin in recent weeks that he thinks will come in handy.
Liverpool must keep focused
Liverpool, though, do not have the luxury of trying out new formations and tactics.
Having secured the domestic cup double, they are now going after the Premier League title. They face Southampton and Wolves and must beat both to have a chance at finishing top.
Only after Sunday’s clash with Wolves – six days before the Champions League final – can they focus on the trip to Paris.
Despite the inability to test out new tactics, Klopp has learned an awful lot about the depth of his squad this season.
Back-up and fringe players such as Joe Gomez, Takumi Minamino and Kostas Tsimikas have all stepped up when required.