Real Madrid 0-0 Milan: Bale penalty saved on Blancos return

By Sports Desk August 08, 2021

Gareth Bale was denied from the penalty spot as Real Madrid rounded off their pre-season preparations with a goalless draw against Milan in Austria.

Handed a start by the returning ex-Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti, Bale was making his first appearance for Madrid in over a year after spending last season on loan at Tottenham.

But the Wales international could not mark the occasion with a goal, Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan guessing correctly to save his 41st-minute penalty at the Worthersee Stadion.

Maignan, who arrived from Ligue 1 champions Lille last month, is expected to start the season as Milan number one following Gianluigi Donnarumma's departure for Paris Saint-Germain.

The France international would have certainly impressed Stefano Pioli with his smart saves to deny Bale and David Alaba from distance.

He then went the right way to keep out Bale from 12 yards when the forward was brought down by Davide Calabria after a surging run into the box.

The breakthrough continued to elude both sides after the break, Luka Modric going close as he rattled the crossbar from 25 yards, while Brahim Diaz stung Andriy Lunin's palms at the other end.

Madrid launch their LaLiga season away at Deportivo Alaves on August 14, the same day that Milan complete their preparations for the forthcoming Serie A campaign against Panathinaikos.

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    European club football's main event is almost here, with two bona fide giants of the game set to face off at the Stade de France on Saturday.

    Either Real Madrid or Liverpool will be crowned champions of Europe in Paris; whichever team manages it will be providing their fans with a glorious end to a tremendous season.

    Of course, Madrid did what Liverpool could not on the domestic front, as Los Blancos head into this game as LaLiga champions – the Reds ultimately missed out to Manchester City on the last day of the Premier League campaign.

    But this has still been a successful season for Jurgen Klopp's side, who could yet claim a treble having already lifted the EFL Cup and FA Cup in England.

    It promises to be an immense spectacle, with Opta's pre-match facts highlighting the wealth of footballing greatness that is set to be on display.

    The history

    Much of the build-up to this match has centred around two separate narratives of "revenge" relating to the 2018 Champions League final meeting between these two.

    The first obvious desire for retribution comes simply from the fact Madrid won 3-1 in Kyiv – the other surrounds Mohamed Salah, whose match was ended early on that occasion after a collision with Sergio Ramos.

    Either way, if Liverpool – and Salah – are to have their vengeance, they'll need to contend with Madrid's astonishing record: they have won each of their previous seven Champions League/European Cup finals.

    To put that stat into context, no other team have even won the competition more than seven times, let alone won in seven consecutive final appearances.

    But if you're looking for omens, answer this: who last beat Madrid in a European Cup/Champions League final, and where was it played?

    Liverpool, in Paris (1981)…

    The managers

    For about 24 hours, Klopp had joined an exclusive list of managers who had reached the European Cup/Champions League final four times.

    But then Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid pulled off their third great escape in as many knockout ties, meaning the Italian would set a new record for the most final appearances as a manager in UEFA's flagship competition.

    But the historic achievement he'll no doubt be craving is still up for grabs.

    Victory on Saturday will ensure Ancelotti is the first manager to lift the trophy four times, having won the competition in 2003, 2007 and 2014.

    But here's another omen. The only club to beat an Ancelotti team in a Champions League final? That's right, Liverpool in 2005.

    Nevertheless, Klopp doesn't have a particularly encouraging record against Los Blancos. He's faced them nine times in the Champions League, with his 33 per cent success rate the worst among teams he's faced at least three times.

    The danger men

    It would be fair to bill this match as something of a Ballon d'Or shootout.

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    Liverpool are bidding to join Milan with seven European Cup/Champions League crowns, the second-most in the competitions' collective history.

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    But if it's Liverpool who succeed, it'll be difficult to look at this as anything other than the early stages of English domination in the Champions League, given Premier League teams have won two of the past three already.

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    However, Klopp offered a positive update in his pre-match news conference on Friday.

    "The mood is good, very good," the Liverpool manager said. "We're really excited about being here now, getting a feeling of the stadium, the location. That's all good.

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    Roma claimed their first UEFA trophy on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Feyenoord in the inaugural Conference League final.

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    Europa Conference League team of the season: Rui Patricio (Roma); Lutsharel Geertruida (Feyenoord), Chris Smalling (Roma), Gernot Trauner (Feyenoord), Tyrell Malacia (Feyenoord); Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Leicester City), Luis Sinisterra (Feyenoord); Cyriel Dessers (Feyenoord), Tammy Abraham (Roma).

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