Owen: It’s too close to call

Dubai: A ‘dream’ Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid is so close to call that it could be decided ‘by a toss of a coin’, according to former England striker Michael Owen, who played for both clubs.

Liverpool beat Roma 7-6 on aggregate in Wednesday’s semi-final, a day after Real Madrid had edged Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate.

Record 12-time European champions Real, who are chasing a third straight title, will now take on five-time winners Liverpool in Kiev on May 26.

However, Owen — who was in Dubai on Thursday promoting celebrity cryptocurrency firm GCOX at the Future Blockchain Summit at Dubai World Trade Centre — said he couldn’t pick a winner between his two former teams.

“I would go along with the fact that Real Madrid will be most people’s idea of the favourite,” he said. “But Real won’t have come up against a team like Liverpool. Liverpool are very unique in that they play better in the bigger games.

“It will be a very interesting, but for me it’s a toss of a coin. Real have experience, but the uniqueness of the way Liverpool play just makes me think that anything can happen.

“Either way it’s a dream final for me as they are both my old teams.”

Owen, 38, scored 158 goals in 297 appearances across all competitions for Liverpool between 1996 and 2004. He then joined Real Madrid for £8 million, and scored 16 in 45 appearances overall in one season’s stay before returning to England to see out his career with Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke City.

Despite representing both finalists, he said there was no confusion over who he would be supporting in Kiev.

“Liverpool are my team, I grew up at the club and had been there since I was a little boy. When I look back on my career I see myself as a Liverpool player more so than anyone else, so I’ll be rooting for Liverpool, but it’s a win-win situation for me with it being between the two teams I played for.”

Owen became the first Liverpool player to win the Ballon d’Or in 2001 after winning five titles in a season at Anfield that year. Now he says Mohammad Salah will become the second, provided Liverpool win the Champions League.

“Inevitably the trophies you win at the end of the season count for an awful lot. I was fortunate to win the Ballon d’Or, but if we hadn’t of won five trophies that season I wouldn’t have come into the reckoning,” he recalled of their FA Cup, League Cup, Charity Shield, Uefa Cup and Super Cup quintuple.

“Of course, you’ve got to have had a good season to have won five trophies and in Salah’s case he’s got to a Champions League final and if he does win it then it will strengthen his claim.

“He’s had a remarkable season and he’s done it internationally as well with Egypt going to the World Cup, so he’s done it on both spectrums really, but a Champions League winning medal would certainly strengthen his claim.”