First of all, commiserations to my few friends on Merseyside after Liverpool’s narrow defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris last weekend
Despite Liverpool enjoying the lion’s share of possession and having nearly five times as many shots on goal, Madrid used all their experience and know-how to nick a 1-0 win and lift the Champions League trophy for an extraordinary 14th time.
To beat Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16, Chelsea in the quarter-finals, Manchester City in the semis, and then Liverpool in the final is an incredible feat, even for a club with as much European pedigree as Real Madrid.
After the match, Jurgen Klopp was quick say that his Liverpool side will be back, light-heartedly urging fans to “book the hotel” in Istanbul – where the 2023 final is due to be held next year. If you agree with the German, you can back Liverpool at 5/1 at Betfred to win the Champions League next term, behind only Premier League champions Manchester City who are 7/2 favs.
Bayern Munich are next in the betting at 6/1, with PSG not far behind at 8/1 – while defending champions Madrid are 12/1 to do it all over again. The other two English clubs – Chelsea and Spurs – are 12/1 and 25/1 respectively.
Some of the scenes outside the stadium, and tales reported by many Liverpool supporters, are/were deeply concerning. What should have been a night to savour was frightening for many. Hopefully answers will be forthcoming in due course.
All the talk at Old Trafford right now is about how Erik ten Hag will settle into the hottest job in world football, how many players he’ll be ordering taxis for, and crucially, who he will bring in. There’s also been a huge shake-up behind the scenes, fixing a structure that has been broken since the great Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013.
That’s very promising indeed, and hopefully the new personnel will help Ten Hag get the transfer targets he wants through the door as soon as possible, in time for pre-season.
Meanwhile, congratulations to Wigan Warriors on their historic victory in the Betfred Challenge Cup on Saturday. The 16-14 win over Huddersfield Giants saw the Warriors lift their 20th Challenge Cup trophy, in the club’s 150th year.
What an achievement. Just like Real Madrid, Wigan is a club that just knows how to win on the big stage. And what about the venue, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium? It is a truly magnificent arena, and all I’ve heard is positive feedback from Saturday.
Focus now switches back to Betfred Super League for the rest of the season, ahead of the Grand Final at Old Trafford on September 24. Current league leaders and reigning champions St Helens are our EVS favourites to make history of their own and win an unprecedented fourth consecutive title, with Catalans Dragons their closest rivals, according to the betting at least, at 3/1.
Betfred Challenge Cup winners Wigan can be backed at 5/1 – while Warrington, Huddersfield and Hull FC are all 16/1 shots.
All the very best,