Real Madrid and Villarreal in Spain will expect a substantial voice in the matter, but a World Cup final between Reds and Man City in Paris is a fascinating proposition. And, after the opening legs of the semi-finals, the two Premier League thoroughbreds who are waging a war on a different level will both be confident of making what might be a defining date at the Stade de France on May 28.After a controlled show of power at Anfield, Liverpool has a 2-0 lead over Villarreal, while Manchester City has a more dangerous 4-3 lead over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Liverpool did not have it easy against Villarreal and their European specialist coach Unai Emery for 53 minutes, slamming their heads against a yellow wall of defiance until Jordan Henderson’s cross was deflected off Pervis Estupinan by a lucky deflection.It was all this ruthless Liverpool side required, and Sadio Mane added a second two minutes later to give them a commanding lead.Liverpool appeared to be in the mood to crush whatever hopes Villarreal may have had, but instead preferred to maintaining effective control, refusing to give Emery’s team a lifeline they did not deserve in this game.Manchester City is in far more trouble against Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid, who pulled off the extraordinary trick of being completely overwhelmed for lengthy stretches at Etihad Stadium and yet managing to qualify for yet another Champions League final.Liverpool were calm, while City were wonderfully anarchic, a flawed beauty who ignored the option of containment in order to keep pushing forward – and it is the contrast between these two styles that makes their rivalry so exciting. Regardless of the evidence in these two games, the two teams are bound together by a shared trait of excellence.Liverpool are only one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League, and Klopp’s team is confident of winning the 2019 Champions League, a tournament that City manager Pep Guardiola has struggled to win since his arrival in England.City will consider success in the Champions League as confirmation of their place among Europe’s best, especially following last season’s final defeat by another Premier League opponent, Chelsea. A seventh title would solidify Liverpool’s status as “European royalty” in the eyes of their fans.There is still more to be done, but this is the biggest moment in European club football.

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