With individual awards given greater importance, Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool may be the decider of the next Ballon d’Or winner between Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah.
While it is true that the Spanish giants, Madrid, are aiming for an enviable record of three straight Champions League record, Salah’s incredible season with Liverpool could be another motive for the Egyptianâ€™s aim to end the dominance of Messi/Ronaldo of the priceless individual awards since 2007 when former Brazilian forward, Kaka won the awards.
After all, Ronaldo has won the prestigious prize on the back of helping Madrid to each of their recent European Cup triumphs, in 2014, 2016 and again last year.
But in a World Cup year, what happens in Russia will also play a big part — it is impossible to imagine Messi not winning a sixth Ballon d’Or should he lead Argentina to the title, the only silverware missing from his credential.
But going into the match tomorrow, former Anfield star, Jamie Redknapp is of the view that Liverpool have the firepower to ‘blow Real Madrid away’ in Kiev.
Jurgen Klopp’s side will seek to prevent Madrid claiming a third consecutive European crown in Kiev, having turned in some stellar performances en route the final showpiece.
Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have scored 29 goals between them in this season’s UCL and Redknapp believes his old club have what it takes to overcome Zinedine Zidane’s men in style.
“If Liverpool blew Real Madrid away, it wouldn’t surprise me, it really wouldn’t,” the former England international told Omnisport.
“Because of the strikeforce they’ve got and sometimes the way that Real Madrid defend, they’re an attacking defensive side. They don’t really look at the defensive side of the game.
“It’s not just Mo Salah. I think it would be disrespectful to not talk about Mo Salah, who’s had an unbelievable season. If you look after Salah, Firmino will hurt you and it’s the same with Mane.
“There’s so many different options and I think for Liverpool to not miss (Philippe) Coutinho after selling him [to Barcelona] for so much money just shows how well the manager has done.”
Robbie Fowler, another favourite on the Red half of Merseyside, is also hopeful Salah can be the man to make the difference.
“He’s been fantastic,” said Fowler, who scored 183 goals in 369 appearances for Liverpool.
“I don’t think anyone could’ve foreseen what was going to happen, but he’s been magnificent.
“He’s got a big game, a big occasion, and he’s proven this year that he is the man for the big occasion, so he’s proven that he can do it.
“Fingers crossed he can do it in the Champions League final.”