Finally, the day is coming! After 220 games from group stages and knock-out rounds, the survivors are scheduled to lock horns in Madrid for the ultimate prize; Champions League trophy!
Liverpool and Tottenham will meet for the third time this season, 173rd time in history but first time ever in international competitions.
Worthy Champions League finalists?
Tough question! If you’re in Champions League final surely you did something to merit being there. Nobody reaches the final by mistake or falls into it from the sky.
Beside quality throughout the squad and mental stability, success in cup competitions is also strongly linked with good fortune. With injuries, naturally, the absence of them, good form and a bit of luck in key moments.
Football is full with “what-if” moments, centimeters that define a match, competition, season or career. Both teams had a few during their run to the final and during all those “what-if” moments somehow had it their way.
Every champion needs luck in crucial moments on his side and if Liverpool and Tottenham are playing it out between them Saturday evening, they must earn it.
They weren’t among my personal favorites until, well, the moment they qualified for the final, however, they’re here and deserve to be.
Group stage draw didn’t hold any punches for the future finalists!
Liverpool had to confront with Paris SG, Napoli and Crvena Zvezda while Tottenham was paired with Barcelona, Inter and PSV Eindhoven.
Fight till the very last minute of the last group game was necessary to gain progression and qualify for the knock-out round.
Especially Liverpool had a troublesome group phase losing all 3 away games and scoring a single goal in the process. However at home they were as dominant as ever.
When the decisive encounter at Anfield against Napoli came the Reds were in need of a win and ultimately got it but not without a few thrills down the spine.
Tottenham had an even tougher task at their hand. Not only they had to get something out from Camp Nou but depended on Inter not winning against an unmotivated PSV.
It eventually turned out according to their wishes but the final surely wasn’t on their mind!
Even if Liverpool opened the second phase of the competition with a domestic goalless draw against Bayern it was clear that the German giants can’t keep up.
Actually, until the semifinal against Barcelona, there were no particular concerns for Klopp and his men. Quarterfinal against Porto also wasn’t an even contrast.
Even the crushing defeat at Camp Nou was over-flattering for the hosts. Liverpool somehow craved out from the abyss and made it to the second consecutive final. And this time they’re favorites!
Tottenham on the other had was practically eliminated twice before reached a historical achievement.
Borussia Dortmund was in free fall when they came to Wembley but Manchester City and Ajax were in full swing when they faced the Spurs.
The Citizens overturned the deficit from the first game only to have it annulled by Llorente’s hand or hip in a fortuitous scramble.
Deep into stoppage time VAR again helped the London side ruling out Aguero’s goal for a matter of centimeters. It’s important to stress that VAR has been introduced only this season.
Against Ajax, the giant-killer, Tottenham was again already eliminated; 3 goals down and only 45 minutes left to play in Amsterdam.
Lucas Moura again proved to be the savour, after scoring against Barcelona at Camp Nou, with a hat-trick as impressive as lucky! Again deep into added time Pochettino’s men refused to accept the destiny and go quietly.
This time the goal stood however again in Tottenham’s favor.
Both teams showed some scintillating football during the season, displaying all the talent at their disposal.
Impressive firepower available make both teams capable of scoring with several different players. Even when the brightest stars were missing, somebody from the second fiddle saved the day.
When the Reds missed Salah and Firmino against Barcelona, Origi stepped up and delivered. Seemingly impossible task to turn around a 3 goal deficit without two of the first choice attackers became real thanks to Origi.
Of course Barca’s defense helped him as much as they could without actually scoring, nevertheless Divock earned a place in the club’s history books.
During Kane’s absence Son, Llorente and Lucas Moura took the responsibility to drive the Spurs forward. Son and Llorente did the damage against Manchester City while Lucas took care of Ajax.
Possibly none of them or just one might start the match at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1st but that can’t and won’t overshadow their contribution to the cause.
Both teams have a great goalkeeper, among the best in the world, solid defence and adaptable midfield line capable of maintaining high rhythm for 90 minutes and beyond.
Liverpool look to have more balance in defence while Tottenham posses more creativity in midfield.
Interestingly, both teams eliminated two domestic league winners and a runner-up!
Liverpool eliminated German and Spanish champions, Bayern and Barcelona, and Portuguese runner-up Porto.
Tottenham proved better then English and Dutch champions, Manchester City and Ajax, while Borussia Dortmund eventually finished second in Bundesliga.
Both teams played Barcelona in Champions League this season. Tottenham in group stages and Liverpool in the already famous semi-final.
Both progressed from the group stage at the expense of Italian teams with same number of points and goal difference but with more goals scored.
German opposition in first knock-out round was beaten while both kept a clean sheet at home and won in Germany.
Either finalist was already out of the picture more then once during the competition. Group stage could be fatal for both squads if not for some good fortune and relentless will not to give up.
At one point of the Champions League semifinals both teams were 3 goals down before producing memorable come-backs.
The biggest one is the most obvious one; Tottenham didn’t make a single purchase for two consecutive transfer market windows! In the same time-span Liverpool spent a small fortune on new faces with over 60 mio € for a goalkeeper standing out.
Despite tremendous attacking potential Liverpool couldn’t score in 4 Champions League matches while Tottenham didn’t find a way past the opposing goalkeeper only once, at home versus Ajax.
Liverpool has a rich history in European competition with 5 Champions League/Cup trophies in the cabinet while Tottenham have nothing to show in terms of international success.
Similarly, this will be Klopp’s 3rd final in European elite competition while Pochettino will make his debut on the scene. Nevertheless in terms of Champions League medals neither of them has a gold one.
If Tottenham were to lose in the final it wouldn’t be a tragedy while Liverpool would take it much worse. Very few expected Spurs to go so far and the pressure is all on Klopp and his squad.
After coming so close to finally topping the Premier League and missing it for the slightest of margins, losing another final would enhance Klopp’s “final flop” reputation.
Champions League Final prediction
Liverpool won both head-to-head this season in Premier League, however never out-played the opposition.
Tottenham showed that you can never write them off and came back from the dead more then once.
However, the feeling is that Pochettino’s team used all of the jokers already. That’s why Liverpool, beside a remarkable season, has the edge in this match.