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Liverpool vs. Real Madrid player duels: Jordan Henderson or Luka Modric?

Ahead of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, the Sports Mole team discuss who is the better midfielder - Jordan Henderson or Luka Modric.

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 Jordan Henderson or Real Madrid's Luka Modric is the better midfielder.


Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric on March 9, 2022© Reuters

Barney Corkhill, Editor

VERDICT: Luka Modric

During his 11 years at Anfield, Jordan Henderson has transformed himself from a much-maligned squad player to a Liverpool legend, and a captain who has lifted every trophy available to him.

There is no doubt that Liverpool are a more structured and organised team with the England international on the field, but in a head to head with a former Ballon d'Or winner like Luka Modric, there is only one person who comes out on top.

Modric is 36 now but is showing no sign of letting up as he chases a fifth Champions League crown, and the Croatia international is a major reason why Los Blancos are in with a shout of winning it.

Had it not been for Karim Benzema's incredible scoring achievements, Modric would have been the standout player of these knockout stages so far, with particular highlights being his driving run and assist for Benzema against Paris Saint-Germain, and his quite frankly ridiculous outside-of-the-boot pass for Rodrygo to score against Chelsea.

Those were two of 12 assists Modric has registered this season - twice as many as Henderson - while he also boasts a better pass completion percentage and carries the ball further than the Liverpool man.

Henderson is a vital cog in Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool machine, but when it comes down to a straight head to head, Modric is a class apart.


Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring for Liverpool in December 2021© Reuters

Matt Law, Football Editor

VERDICT: Luka Modric

Modric's form this season has been stunning, scoring three times and providing 12 assists in 43 appearances. The Croatian will be looking to dominate the midfield battle, and there is no question that he has the quality to dictate the play from the middle of the park.

Liverpool's midfield is so important to what they do, though, and Henderson will believe that he has the energy to unnerve the likes of Modric and Kroos. Henderson has played 56 times this season but will give everything for his side on Saturday, and it remains to be seen whether the class of Modric or energy of Henderson produce more for their teams in the final.

For me, though, Modric has to be given the nod in this particular head to head.


Real Madrid's Luka Modric pictured on December 12, 2021© Reuters

Ben Knapton, Senior Reporter

VERDICT: Luka Modric

Luka Modric may be entering the golden years of his career, but it is no surprise to see Real Madrid try to tie the classy 36-year-old down for a little bit longer.

Scoring three goals and providing 12 assists in all competitions this season, Modric has been instrumental in Real's run to the final – single-handedly running the show against PSG before that exquisite assist for Rodrygo to force extra time against Chelsea.

Henderson is and always will be a wonderful servant for Liverpool, and his leadership qualities are evident week in week out, but Modric was a simple pick.


Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson pictured in August 2021© Reuters

Joel Lefevre, Reporter

VERDICT: Luka Modric

The midfield battle between Luka Modric and Jordan Henderson is among the many intriguing positional battles heading into the Champions League final, which will be extremely close to call. I believe that, as a whole, Liverpool are the stronger side, however when you break each of them down by position, it is a different story.

Starting in Madrid, we have Luka Modric - an intelligent, technically gifted midfielder who has shown an incredible vision in this competition, picking up four assists for his team en route to the final. He may be a few years older than his counterpart at the Stade de France, Jordan Henderson, but even at 36, he has been fantastic when it comes to winning balls in the middle of the field and is a tireless worker.

He can win balls deep in his own end, while the 2018 Golden Ball winner at the World Cup still has incredible composure to evade tackles.

Jordan Henderson is a highly-intelligent, box-to-box midfielder who is fantastic at shutting players down. Like Modric, he is a great ball distributor capable of operating effectively in the central channels, though he is usually best suited to play on the right.

When you break them all down, they are both difference-makers who can change the tempo of a game. I give the edge to Modric because of his experience in big games both at club and international levels. I also believe that as solid as Henderson is, Modric provides a little more versatility and can be equally as effective where he is positioned in midfield.

As good as Henderson is, to me he is better out wide on the right side than in central areas, and that is why I give a slight edge to Modric.


SPORTS MOLE VERDICT: LUKA MODRIC

Real Madrid's Luka Modric pictured on August 14, 2021© Reuters


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How you voted: Liverpool vs Real Madrid

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Real Madrid
43.7%
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David Alaba celebrates scoring for Real Madrid in October 2021
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