Champions League Final Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool
Saturday 1 June will mark the day that Mauricio Pochettino’s plucky upstarts go up against Jürgen Klopp’s well oiled Scouse machine for the chance to become kings of Europe.
Liverpool carry with them the frustration of a lost league title, as well as the experience of a Champions League final from last year already under their belts.
Spurs, rather, resemble the chancers who have endured an abysmal streak of domestic form in the closing stages of the season only to come up trumps in the Champions League.
Anyone will tell you that Liverpool are the firm favourites to win this tie, and while that might be true, it is a Champions League final and anything can happen.
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Last minute drama
The last time the two met in the league back in March it took a Toby Alderweireld own goal to separate the two sides at the last gasp.
Both teams have to hold their hands up to capitalising on last minute winners this season. If that’s anything to go by you can expect either to be capable of pulling something out of the bag in the dying embers of the game.
Liverpool basically kept their title hopes alive with a number of astonishing late winners in the final third of the Premier League season.
As of late though it’s Spurs who should be praising the gods of injury time. The Lilywhites managed one of the most magnificent comebacks in Champions League history in the semi final that left Ajax’s youngsters flat on the field with their heads in their hands.
Form counts for nothing
When it comes to form and consistency there couldn’t be two teams more at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Liverpool have been a bastion of form and consistency, cruelling missing out on the Premier League title by a point. One solitary loss all season at the hands title rivals Manchester City saw their dreams go up in smoke.
While Liverpool have been chalking up the points, Spurs have been casting them away with alarming frequency. Pochettino’s side only managed three league wins in the final 12 matches, league form perhaps coming at a cost to their Champions League ambitions.
Third time lucky?
When the two teams step out on the Madrid turf it will be Jürgen Klopp’s third bite at the cherry (Dortmund 2013, Liverpool 2018). The question is how Liverpool’s troops can utilise the experience and frustration of titles gone awry to capitalise this time round.
Klopp was undone by the experience of a Real Madrid side familiar with conquering Europe last year. If you fancy anyone’s chances to unravel Liverpool, the more experienced of the two, it’s an English side. Nobody has performed better on the big stage this season than Spurs in Europe.
For all the stick Spurs, Pochettino and chairman Daniel Levy have got this season, the North Londoners are scaling heights never before seen.
For both sides, they’ve come on leaps and bounds in the last few seasons to be able to challenge amongst Europe’s elite on a consistent basis.
All guns blazing
Liverpool and Spurs represent two of the most formidable attacking units in modern European football at the moment, and it’s looking highly likely that all of their main weapons will be primed and ready to fire.
Much of the talk is surrounding whether Harry Kane will be fit for the final but it was Lucas Moura who was the hero of Amsterdam. The Brazilian has already bagged one against Liverpool early in the season and will fancy his chances.
His compatriot on the opposite side of the pitch Roberto Firmino has also netted against the opposite this season. The Brazilian is wedged between two joint Premier League top scorers in Saido Mané and Mohamed Salah and will want to make his mark on the final.
How these two teams will react to playing in a final with so much at stake remains to be seen. But both Pochettino and Klopp know their teams perform best when playing on the front foot. It’ll be truly a mouthwatering prospect to watch.