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Liverpool vs. Real Madrid player duels: Luis Diaz or Vinicius Junior?

:Headline: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid player duels: Luis Diaz or Vinicius Junior?:
Ahead of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, the Sports Mole team discuss who is the better forward - Luis Diaz or Vinicius Junior.
Sports Mole

Some of the world's best players will be on show in Paris on Saturday as Liverpool and Real Madrid go head to head in the biggest club game in football - the Champions League final.

It is the third time the two famous clubs have met in a European Cup final - a record for a single fixture - with the past two split one apiece, Liverpool winning in Paris in 1981 before Real Madrid lifted the trophy in 2018.

Ahead of the blockbuster fixture between two of Europe's most decorated teams, the Sports Mole team have compared every player likely to start the match for both sides in Paris.

Here, we discuss whether Liverpool's Luis Diaz or Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior is the better forward.

Barney Corkhill, Editor

VERDICT: Vinicius Junior

Luis Diaz has had a transformative impact on Liverpool since his January arrival, immediately endearing himself to the club's fans not only through his quality, but also his work ethic and attitude.

The Colombian's arrival immediately meant that the Reds could afford to rest or take off one of the long-standing front three without dropping too much in quality, and although he was one of only two signings over the course of 2021-22, Jurgen Klopp's men now have the strength in depth to go as far as possible in every competition.

That said, taking the season as a whole, Vinicius Junior edges this head to head for me. Diaz has outscored his Real Madrid counterpart 22 to 21 this season, but Vinicius has chalked up almost twice as many assists - 20 to Diaz's 11.

Vinicius is also superior when it comes to passing and defensive statistics - neither of which are exactly weak points in Diaz's game - and behind Karim Benzema the Brazilian has arguably been Madrid's best player this season.

Both players have the ability to cause their opposite numbers all sorts of problems in Paris, but the battle between Vinicius and Trent Alexander-Arnold could be a particularly key one.

Matt Law, Football Editor

VERDICT: Vinicius Junior

Diaz's form since his arrival in January has been sensational, effortlessly settling into life at Liverpool. There have been goals and assists over the last few months, and the fact that he is now expected to start the Champions League final says an awful lot about his contribution to the cause.

Vinicius, though, is currently one of the most exciting youngsters in world football, scoring 21 goals and registering 20 assists in 51 appearances.

Both Chelsea and Man City have found the Brazilian difficult to handle this season, and there is no question that he will be looking to target the space behind Alexander-Arnold.

This is incredibly close, and strong cases can be made for both players, but I have just sided with Vinicius, as he has proved himself at Real Madrid over the entirety of the season.

Ben Knapton, Senior Reporter

VERDICT: Vinicius Junior

Stumping up an initial £37.5m for Luis Diaz has proven to be an absolute steal from the Liverpool hierarchy, who have witnessed the Colombian register six goals and five assists from 25 outings so far and turn the semi-final on its head at La Ceramica.

Liverpool were on the verge of being shocked into submission by Villarreal before Diaz's half-time introduction changed the game, but there can be no overlooking Vinicius Junior's contributions this season.

The 21-year-old has started to fulfil his potential at the Bernabeu with a staggering 21 goals and 20 assists in all competitions, and as much as Diaz has impressed in red so far, Vinicius is a straightforward pick and will be set for an intriguing battle with Alexander-Arnold in Paris.

Joel Lefevre, Reporter

VERDICT: Luis Diaz

Diaz has probably been the most significant difference-maker as a newcomer to a club this year; he is a high-volume shooter who has made the most of his opportunity.

Vinicius Junior has thrived under a Real Madrid side lacking in star power yet filled with potential. The Brazilian may have the highest ceiling as this youngster's sky is the limit.

Diaz, for me, gets the edge as he has a nose for the goal and has been just as lethal as Salah in the final third. Vinicius has terrific acceleration and flair, but what wins football matches is your ability to finish, and Diaz knows how to finish off some outstanding build-up play or great runs.


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