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Cristiano Ronaldo v Mohamed Salah: The key battle in the 2018 Champions League final

Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah is the key battle when Real Madrid face Liverpool in the Champions League final
Image: Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah is the key battle when Real Madrid face Liverpool in the Champions League final

The 2018 Champions League final will be played by two sides that have won the competition no less than 17 times between them.

Real Madrid are looking to win it for a fourth time in five seasons, while Liverpool are looking to become only the third side to win the competition six times - after 12-time winners Real and seven-time winners AC Milan.

The game pits two of Europe's top three scorers from the top five major leagues this season. Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo are both locked on 44 goals each, Lionel Messi the only player to score more this season (45).

Eighty two per cent of Salah's Liverpool goals have come with his left-foot while 61 per cent of Ronaldo's goals this season have come with his right.

Salah has a better shot conversion rate and has assisted more but Ronaldo has a better minutes-per-goal ratio, although the Portuguese has scored seven penalties to Salah's one.

Tale of the Tape – club stats this season

Salah Ronaldo
44 Goals 44
51 Apps 43
36 Left foot 10
6 Right foot 27
2 Head 7
5 Outside the box 2
1 Penalties 7
23% Shot conversion rate 16%
93 Mins/Goal 81
14 Assists 8
71 Mins/Goal involvement 69
12 Scores games 1st goal 9

Both players boast unbeaten records when they've scored the first goal in a game this season. Liverpool are undefeated in those 12 games, winning nine and drawing three, this includes Salah's openers in their Champions League quarter-final and semi-final ties against Manchester City and Roma respectively.

Similarly, Real Madrid are unbeaten in the nine games Ronaldo has scored the first goal, winning eight and drawing one. Ronaldo is the top scorer in this season's Champions League with 15 goals in just 14 appearances, five more than any other player - Salah and Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino are next on the list with 10 goals apiece.

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Loris Karius believes Mohamed Salah is 'world class', but has confessed he is not yet on Cristiano Ronaldo's level

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo is looking to become the first player to win five Champions League finals. He has been victorious in three of the last four seasons with Real Madrid and won it with Manchester United in 2007/08.

Only Andres Iniesta and Clarence Seedorf have played in and won four finals since the Champions League's inception in 1992. Ronaldo has four goals in five finals - no other player has scored more than two goals in Champions League finals - while he is also set to draw level with Paolo Maldini's six appearances in the showpiece event.

Ronaldo's Champions League final record

Season Opposition Result Goals
Real Madrid 2016/17 Juventus W 4-1 2
2015/16 Atletico Madrid D 1-1, won 5-3 on pens 0
2013/14 Atletico Madrid W 4-1 aet 1
Man Utd 2008/09 Barcelona L 0-2 0
2007/08 Chelsea D 1-1, won 6-5 on pens 1

Ronaldo will face a Liverpool side that have scored 46 goals in this season's competition, a record for a single UEFA Champions League campaign, including qualifiers. Thirty one of these goals have been scored by Salah (11), Firmino (11) and Sadio Mane (9).

The 25-year-old Egyptian's 44-goal haul in all competitions has never been bettered in a Premier League season - Ruud van Nistelrooy scored the same amount for Manchester United in 2002/03. Salah is also a hat-trick away short of Ian Rush's Liverpool record of most goals in a season, 47 in 1983/84.

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Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah's 32-goal haul won him the Premier League Golden Boot

This will be Salah's first major cup final in club football. He has played for his country in one, losing 2-1 with Egypt to Cameroon in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final in Gabon.

By contrast this will be Ronaldo's 17th major final in club football. The Portuguese has an impressive 12 goals in 16 final appearances, winning 12 and losing only four. In total, he has played in 18 major cup finals for club and country, winning 13.

Ronaldo: Seven finals, seven wins, seven goals

Final Opposition Result Goals
2017 FIFA Club World Cup Gremio W 1-0 1
2017 Champions League Juventus W 4-1 2
2016 FIFA Club World Cup Kashima Antlers W 4-2 3
2016 European Championships France W 1-0 0
2016 Champions League Atletico Madrid D 1-1, won 5-3 on pens 0
2014 FIFA Club World Cup San Lorenzo W 2-0 0
2014 Champions League Atletico Madrid W 4-1 aet 1

Ronaldo scored in Real's 2-2 final-day draw at Villarreal last weekend, and in doing so became the first player to score 50 goals for club and country in the top five major European leagues this season.

Amazingly, this is the eighth successive season he has scored 50+ goals for club and country. It was also his 450th goal in 437 Real Madrid appearances, scoring 28 of these goals in his last 19 games. Salah can boast 19 in his last 19 Liverpool appearances.

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Highlights of the La Liga game between Villarreal and Real Madrid

The two players met just two months ago when Portugal beat Egypt 2-1 in a friendly in Zurich - Salah put Egypt ahead with Ronaldo scoring twice in injury-time.

The only previous head-to-head meeting in club competition came when Ronaldo's Real beat Salah's Roma 4-0 on aggregate in the last 16 of the Champions League in March 2016, Ronaldo scored two of the four goals. This the only previous time Salah has played against Real Madrid.

Ronaldo has scored in three of his last four games against Liverpool and this coming after he had failed to score in his first seven games against the Reds.

All things considered, a fascinating world-class tussle awaits in Kiev on Saturday.

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