Mohamed Salah, in the red of Liverpool, and Cristiano Ronaldo, in the white of Real Madrid, will be expected to score goals tonight worthy of European football’s annual showpiece
|Mohamed Salah||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Salah is from Nagrig, a farming community in the Nile Delta, 80 miles from Cairo, where he was born into a middle-class Muslim family. His childhood was spent reading his schoolbooks during the long journey to and from training sessions with El Mokawloon, a Cairo club, involving several buses in each direction. Now he is Africa’s player of the year and his popularity at home is such that in the recent Egyptian presidential elections a million voters are said to have written in his name on their ballot papers.||Ronaldo was born in Funchal, the largest city of Portugal’s Madeiran archipelago, where his mother worked as a cook and his father as a gardener. With a dedication to self-improvement that has impressed a succession of managers, he turned himself into the greatest Portuguese player of all time, his deeds eclipsing those of Eusébio, the Mozambique-born forward who won the European Cup with Benfica in 1962 and was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup. Ronaldo is bidding for his fifth European Cup winner’s medal while his club are going for their 13th title, and their third in a row.|
|His Liverpool wages have subsidised a youth centre and an ambulance station in his home town, and he is building a school to provide a non-extremist Muslim education for girls and boys.||Ronaldo has given money, including his £600,000 winning bonus from last year’s Champions League final, to many causes, one of them a school in Gaza.|
At their best each man offers a thrilling spectacle.
Where Ronaldo surges and shimmers before bemusing goalkeepers with shots that weave and dip viciously,
Salah simply explodes.From his regular station on the right wing, he cuts inside his marker and moves across the face of the penalty area before shooting with his stronger left foot, usually aiming to place the ball inside the far post.
Both have alternative weapons in their armoury.
Ronaldo, at 6ft 2in, has the power and the leap that enable him to score memorable headed goals.
The 5ft 9in Salah exploits his low centre of gravity to twist and turn inside the penalty area, flicking the ball away from more cumbersome opponents with something of Messi’s mesmerising deftness.
A sixth win for the pouting and obsessively groomed Ronaldo, now with the edge perhaps gone from his once blistering speed, or a first for the smiling, tousle-headed Salah, entering his prime propelled by an infectious optimism? Whichever way it goes, this is one final likely to justify the hype.
Credit : Theguardian