This Saturday is the Champions League final. Liverpool and Real Madrid will face off over the trophy for Europe’s top team of the year. The game will be played in Kiev in front of 63,000 fans, with millions more watching it through broadcast across the world.
Real Madrid has appeared in the final 15 times previously, and has won the past two years. Should they win this year again, they will be the first team since the 1970s to win three times in a row. Liverpool has appeared 7 times, though this is the first time in eleven years they have made it back to the final. They last won in 2005.
Let’s look at what Real Madrid and Liverpool have done to be this successful, and perhaps gain some insights into project management along the way.
The Challenger – Liverpool FC
Liverpool is the most successful club in England of all time, both domestically and internationally. They have won 18 League titles, 8 League Cups, 7 FA Cups, 5 European Cups and 3 UEFA Cups. They play in Anfield, wear red, and their motto is “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Star Player: Mohamed Salah, A One Man Wrecking Crew
When Liverpool lost Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona before the 2017/18 season, its fans were concerned. Then Mo Salah scored 42 goals and 14 assists between the Premier League and Champions League. His 32 Premier League goals is a new season record – beating the record of 31 set by Ronaldo and four others.
The Defending Champion – Real Madrid CF
Real Madrid is perhaps the most successful football team, in the world, of all time. They have won a record 32 La Liga titles, 19 Copa del Rey trophies, 10 European Cups/Champions Leagues and 2 UEFA Cups. They won the Champions League the last two years and are looking to make it three in a row. They play at Santiago Barnabeu, wear white, and their motto is “Hala Madrid y nada mas (Hail Madrid and nothing more).”
Star Player: Christiano Ronaldo, Who Is Still Not Human
Ronaldo is 33 years old. Watch him kick a ball 2.4 meters in the air. With the goal, he has scored more goals on his own in the Champions League than all but six teams. His reflexes and pure physical skill are seriously unbelievable – watch him score goals without being able to see the ball.
The Coaches – Management Style
Jurgen Klopp – Management Genius
Jurgen Klopp is the manager of Liverpool. He is widely regarded as one of football’s most innovative managers, and is a proponent of the “gegenpressing” tactic. Klopp has been at Liverpool since 2015. Before coming to Anfield, Klopp molded Dortmund into an elite club. His management style is centered on communication, clarity, and momentum – ideas that we here at Proggio know are ingredients to success, and are integral parts of our platform.
Zinedine Zidane – From World Class Talent To Tactical Master
Zinedine Zidane is the manager at Real Madrid, holding the post since 2016. Zidane was a world class footballer before he became a coach – he was named the best player in Europe in the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll in 2004, and is one of only eight players ever to win the World Cup, Champions League, and Ballon D’Or.
Zidane is a master tactician, knowing how to tailor his team’s approach based on the strengths of his players. Injuries don’t disrupt Real Madrid. Zidane simply adjusts the team’s tactics to who is playing, and the results continue. He is also fanatical about conditioning, which is a crucial part of his team’s success. A tired team doesn’t have gas in the tank left to close out a match, and a fit team can run rings around a tired opponent. Knowing how to plan around your team’s strengths, and making sure they are in peak condition to perform, are takeaways for any project manager or team leader.
Gegenpressing – Attack As Defense
What is gegenpressing? And why is it so important to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s success? A breakdown of the tactic:
Using Space – You Can’t Defend Against What You Aren’t Looking At
How does Real Madrid attack with the ball? By slipping unaware into the empty spaces within a defense.
Values and Beliefs Can Affect Everything
The Liverpool team has three Muslims – Mohammed Salah, Emre Can, and Sadio Mane. This year’s Champions League Final is being held during Ramadan – a month where Muslims fast all day until sundown. While the game will be held at night, an all-day fast can affect a player’s physical conditioning for the game. It is still unknown what the players will choose to do.
Deja Vu – This Happened Before….
This is not the first time that Liverpool and Real Madrid faced each other in the Champions League Final in a year Mahatir Mohamad was elected prime minister of Malaysia along with a British royal wedding. In 1981 Prince Charles married Lady Diana, Mahatir was elected for the first time, and Liverpool won the European Cup against Real Madrid match 1-0. (The Champions League was called the European Cup back then.)
In 2018 Mahatir was elected back to the Malaysian premiership, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, and again, Liverpool face Real Madrid. As in 1981, Liverpool will wear red, and Real Madrid will wear white. Will Liverpool win again?