Top Winners and Losers After Real Madrid's Champions League Victory vs. Liverpool

Erin WalshMay 28, 2022

TOPSHOT - Real Madrid's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois catches the ball during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 1-0 in the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday at Stade de France for their first Champions League title since 2018 and 14th overall.

Impressive performances from Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, who scored the match's only goal in the 59th minute, and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois highlighted the play. That said, it was an incredibly disappointing result for Liverpool, which entered with hopes of avenging its 2018 UCL final loss to Real Madrid.

With one of the biggest matches of the year now complete, we'll break down Saturday's biggest winners and losers below.

Winner: Real Madrid Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

Real Madrid invested nearly $43 million to sign Courtois in August 2018, and that investment has paid off in a big way. The Belgian was brilliant in goal for Real Madrid in the final, making nine saves to help his team earn the victory.

According to Statman Dave, the 30-year-old finished the match with 65 total touches, 27 long balls played, nine saves, seven saves from inside the area and two high claims. Courtois is the first goalkeeper in UCL final history with that many saves, which only further highlights how dominant he was against Liverpool.

Squawka @Squawka

Thibaut Courtois is the first goalkeeper on record to make NINE saves in a single <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCLfinal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCLfinal</a> <br><br>An incredible performance. 🙌 <a href="https://t.co/FLO8WSXNku">pic.twitter.com/FLO8WSXNku</a>

One of Courtois' best stops came in the 80th minute as Liverpool's Mohamed Salah came very close to finding the equalizer. That said, all of his saves were nothing short of incredible.

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

COURTOIS. BEAST MODE. 😤 <a href="https://t.co/zACTW8ncyM">pic.twitter.com/zACTW8ncyM</a>

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

Thibaut Courtois is putting in a SHIFT! 😲 <a href="https://t.co/VXu5b3AQo9">pic.twitter.com/VXu5b3AQo9</a>

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

Thibaut Courtois coming up huge again! 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/wk0RXP5gIP">pic.twitter.com/wk0RXP5gIP</a>

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

Thibaut Courtois denies Mo Salah. 🧤 <a href="https://t.co/jZAFpoK1tb">pic.twitter.com/jZAFpoK1tb</a>

Madrid Zone @theMadridZone

❗MOST SAVES in a single game in this season's <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCL</a><br><br>🥇 Courtois vs Liverpool - 9 (<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCLFinal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCLFinal</a> record)<br>🥈 Courtois vs PSG - 8<br>🥉 Courtois vs Man City - 8<br><br>What a LEGEND. <a href="https://t.co/Vn4FcABESU">pic.twitter.com/Vn4FcABESU</a>

Courtois mentioned after the match that he didn't have much respect in England—he will get it now after shutting out Liverpool.

Winner: Real Madrid Forward Vinicius Junior

Vinicius Junior was the lone goal scorer in Saturday's match, which makes him an automatic winner. The 21-year-old Brazilian found the back of the net in the 59th minute to seal Real Madrid's victory.

Vinicius Junior made a run on the back post, and Federico Valverde found him on a gorgeous pass for the goal.

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

VINICIUS JR. BREAKTHROUGH FOR REAL MADRID. 💥 <a href="https://t.co/GVzH0BsgvZ">pic.twitter.com/GVzH0BsgvZ</a>

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Vinícius Júnior has been involved in 10 Champions League goals this season. More than a top talent. ⚪️⭐️ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCLFinal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCLFinal</a><br><br>Quick reminder: Vini’s still 21. <a href="https://t.co/gPz2nYt5u1">pic.twitter.com/gPz2nYt5u1</a>

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

At 21 years, 320 days, Vinícius Jr. is the 2nd-youngest Real Madrid player, and the 5th-youngest ever to score in a UCL Final. <a href="https://t.co/Gk7zEPQRhf">pic.twitter.com/Gk7zEPQRhf</a>

Vinicius Junior has been with Real Madrid since the 2018-19 season, though the 2021-22 campaign was a breakthrough year for the youngster. He tallied 17 goals and 10 assists in 35 La Liga matches (30 starts) this season.

Vinicius Junior also entered Saturday's game with three goals and six assists in 12 Champions League matches this season.

The Brazilian is only beginning to make a name for himself at 21 years old and should receive a pretty significant contract extension. According to Marca's Mario Cortegana (h/t MailOnline's Dominic Hogan), Real Madrid was ready to offer Vinicius Junior an extension through the 2027-28 season worth 10 million euros in net wages.

That's not a cheap salary by any means, though it's a steal in relation to what other elite players make.

Loser: Liverpool's Defense

The Liverpool defense of Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate and Andrew Robertson struggled. It nearly allowed Karim Benzema to score toward the end of the first half, but the goal was overturned after it was ruled he was offside on VAR.


Should Karim Benzema's goal have counted? <a href="https://t.co/XWaE1tQwSE">pic.twitter.com/XWaE1tQwSE</a>

The team's defense then had a major breakdown on Vinicius Junior's goal and was ultimately one of the reasons Liverpool failed to keep Real Madrid off the scoresheet.

Vinicius Junior's goal also ended up being Real Madrid's only shot on goal in the match, and Los Blancos had just three total attempts.

Real Madrid's defense, backed by Courtois' play, managed to avoid critical mistakes unlike Liverpool's defensive group. The Reds made just seven tackles, winning four, and also lost three tackles and had just one clearance completed. For comparison, the Real Madrid defense made 17 tackles, winning 15, and completed 11 clearances and managed to maintain a clean sheet.

That said, the Liverpool offense certainly had its chances with nine shots on goal and 23 total attempts, but Salah and Sadio Mane were left scoreless thanks to an incredible effort from Courtois and a solid effort from the Real Madrid defense.