Thierry Henry has predicted that Liverpool will leave Paris victorious in their upcoming Champions League final as the Reds are “stronger than Madrid.”
Liverpool and Madrid have both produced dramatic moments on their way to the showpiece but nevertheless showed their quality.
The two faced off in the 2018 Champions League final which unfortunately ended in misery for Jurgen Klopp’s men as they lost 3-1 to Los Blancos.
However, speaking to CBS Sports, Henry insisted that he thinks Liverpool have what it takes to win.
“I think Liverpool will win the Champions League. They’re stronger than Madrid,” the former Arsenal striker said.
Liverpool are on the cusp of something unimaginable, with the quadruple still a real possibility. The Reds have been in stellar form all season and have won 25 of their Premier League games this season.
Madrid have also won 25 La Liga games this year and have recently secured their 34th league title.
Two stand-out players from the teams this season however, have been Sadio Mane and Karim Benzema.
Mane has netted 14 times in the league this season and is ranked fifth on the overall top scorers in the top flight this year.
Benzema, on the other hand, has managed to score 26 goals in the league this year which puts him at the top of La Liga’s list. The pair are both in the running for the upcoming 2022 Ballon D’or award.
Henry on Mane, Liverpool Ballon d’Or battle
Both Mane and Benzema are ranked among the best players in the world due to their form so far in the 2021/22 season.
Mane, has already won the Africa Cup of Nations and helped his country qualify for the Qatar World Cup. The Senegal international has also played well for Liverpool domestically.
Benzema, on the other hand, has been the main driving force in Madrid’s team this year. Along with wonderkid Vinicius Junior, the pair have carried Madrid to their recent title win.
Henry, however, believes that Benzema still just about beats Mane to the award.
He added: “I still believe that Benzema is ahead, but if Mane wins with Liverpool and they do the quadruple, he’s a pretty strong opponent.
“Mane, of course, led the Senegalese national team to the African Cup of Nations earlier this year. It would be great for Africa but I’m still betting on Benzema.”
Key change to Ballon d’Or award
As the World Cup is being played in winter, the standard procedure for how the award is given has been changed.
The awards won’t judge the players over a calendar year, it’s now based off of a domestic season. This means that the Qatar World Cup will not be taken into consideration when the award is given this year. It will instead be back under consideration in the 2022-23 awards.
Players will be judged on individual awards firstly and then their teams’ achievements secondly. This then begs the question, which of Mane or Benzema is most likely to win?
Mane has had an exceptional season both domestically and internationally. Liverpool are chasing a quadruple and Senegal won AFCON as well as gaining qualification for the World Cup.
Benzema, however, has also had an incredible season. The France international has excelled since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus.
Although, as the World Cup isn’t counting towards the awards this year, the Champions League will be vital.
Both Madrid and Liverpool are competing in the final so, whichever team wins, could have a future Ballon D’or winner within their ranks.