Real Madrid v Liverpool: Salah, Ronaldo lead the line in combined XI

As Real Madrid and Liverpool prepare to meet in Kiev, we select a combined XI of the best players from the two Champions League finalists.

A composite image of Sergio Ramos, Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo   -  Getty Images

A classic clash of European football royalty looms in Kiev on Saturday, when Real Madrid face Liverpool in the Champions League final.

Zinedine Zidane's side, 12-time champions and the holders, are seeking to become the first team since Bayern Munich in 1976 to win the European Cup three times in succession.

Liverpool, meanwhile, Britain's most successful side in continental competition, go in search of their sixth crown and first since that famous Istanbul triumph of 2005.

Ahead of the decider at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Ukraine's capital, we pick a combined XI from across the two finalists…


Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)

His future is uncertain, but that is nothing new to a goalkeeper who has had to perform amid constant speculation about Madrid's interest in positional rivals.

The Costa Rica international has at times undermined his case to retain the number one shirt, making errors against both Juventus and Bayern Munich in the run to the final, but he has been there for the past two triumphs and that know-how gets him the nod ahead of inexperienced Loris Karius.

Right-back: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)

Trent Alexander-Arnold has won a first-team place at Liverpool and a World Cup ticket all in his teenage years, but the England talent is beaten to our right-back spot by a Madrid mainstay.

Carvajal has overcome adversity in the form of a heart infection earlier in the season and a recent hamstring problem, but he has recovered fitness and will be essential to stopping the likes of Mohamed Salah in Kiev.

Left-back: Marcelo (Real Madrid)

The archetypal modern day full-back, Brazil's marauding Marcelo will be hoping Champions League success can be the start of a momentous couple of months in his career, and he gets the nod ahead of Andrew Robertson, despite an outstanding debut season at Anfield for the Scottish defender.

Centre-back: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

There can be few bigger challenges for Liverpool's much-vaunted attacking trident than facing Ramos in a Champions League final.

Perhaps the man who best encapsulates his team's inherent ability to win, the Spain skipper already has three European crowns on his resume, having scored in the twin triumphs over Atletico Madrid.

Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Liverpool fought hard to secure his signature and their persistence has been rewarded with a transformative presence at the back.

Van Dijk could easily have been crippled by the pressure of expectation upon arriving from Southampton in January, but instead he has brought calm to a defence that was too regularly exposed during the first half of the season.

Central midfield: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)

Close down Kroos and Liverpool will go a long way to stopping the supply to Cristiano Ronaldo.

The metronomic Germany international has been a key member of Madrid's midfield since making the switch from Bayern Munich.

Central midfield: James Milner (Liverpool)

It would be tempting to label Milner's superb season as a renaissance had he not been so admirably consistent throughout his 16-year senior career.

From winger to full-back and now central midfield, the experienced head in Liverpool's engine room is key to carrying out Jurgen Klopp's tactical instructions.

Central midfield: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

The Croatia captain may not score many, but he more than makes up for it with his invention and intelligence on the ball.

Modric is just as adept at carrying possession forward as he is distributing it from deep, and has that world-class knack of playing the game at his own pace.

Right wing: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Premier League Golden Boot winner and PFA Players' Player of the Year, Salah has exceeded expectations and broken records in a truly astonishing first season for Liverpool.

Can he cap it all by giving the supporters who have come to adore him their latest dose of European glory?

His deadliness suggests he needs just one chance to make it happen.

Left wing: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Klopp insists the final is not about comparing Salah to Ronaldo. Perhaps he knows just how Madrid's talisman could be stirred by a challenge to his throne.

The leading scorer in Champions League history loves proving his pedigree on the biggest stage of all, netting four times in the five finals in which he has appeared.

Centre-forward: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

He scores, he assists, and he has made the calls for Liverpool to sign a traditional centre-forward look positively silly.

Firmino has done everything asked of him and then some this season, netting 27 times in all competitions and proving the perfect foil for Salah and Sadio Mane.

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