Date: Saturday 1st June
Stadium: Estadio Wanda Metropolitano
Referee: Damir Skomina
Goal Scorer: Mohamed Salah, Divock Origi
LIVERPOOL HAVE WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE! Goals from Salah and Origi deliver the Reds their 6th UCL/European Cup title…
Beyond here lies the preview of a match guaranteed to reverberate through the ages of one of two football clubs. Tottenham Hotspur have reached the level of Champions League finalists unexpectedly just as Liverpool had last season. A result in Madrid would be a massive coup for Spurs and a real testament to the smart magic in Mauricio Pochettino’s brain.
Liverpool will be standing before the almighty trophy for the second year in a row and a win in Spain would be both an amazing personal feeling of rapturous, tastefully-sexual joy as well as vibranium-plated proof of dominion from the Reds and a surefire herald of the Liverbird’s reascension to it’s perch above the footballing world. I’m starting to get excited. I’m mean, I’m starting to get nervous.
The road to the Estadio Metropolitano has been both rocky and full of excitement for Liverpool. The group stage was difficult and nearly the end of the line for the team but Klopp’s players fought hard to get into the Round of 16. They faced many more obstacles along the way but a return to the final, redemptive after last season’s unfortunate loss to Real Madrid, would have been affixed onto the frontal lobes of the players all season.
Spurs have never been to a final before. The atmosphere will be electric in Madrid and while many of Pochettino’s players have competed on big stages before, Klopp and his team just might have an advantage when it comes to settling into the occasion. Pochettino commands a strong starting eleven that can cause Liverpool problems but they’ll have to perform at their maximum level and effectively navigate through the mental vortices of the match in order to do so.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Harry Kane is a “maybe” for inclusion in Spurs’ XI and a “probably” for taking a preliminary spot on the bench. Kane is a dangerous striker and on his good days is a handful for any defenders to deal with. But a Harry Kane hampered by injury and lack of match fitness might be a boon for Virgil Van Dijk and friends if the Englishman starts the match.
On the Liverpool striker side, Roberto Firmino is a definite in Klopp’s team on Saturday. Firmino missed a few games at the end of the season while allowing a muscle issue to heal. The manager, no doubt, chose to rest Firmino with hope in his heart. The Brazilian missed the dramatic 4-0 victory over Barcelona at Anfield that sent Liverpool to the final but his time on the sidelines, plus an end-of-season break, plus the Marbella five-a-side tournaments have put Bobby in pole position to lead the line.
Jürgen Klopp’s first bit of silverware at Liverpool should be the Champions League trophy. That would be lovely. And the club have never had a better opportunity to win it than the one on offer this weekend. Spurs finished twenty-six points behind Liverpool in the league and are well behind the Reds in terms of squad depth.
Spurs finished off the domestic season with a whimper, drawing 2-2 with Everton on the final day after losing three of their previous four Premier League fixtures. The Ajax turnaround happened and that was a miraculous effort, particularly by Lucas Moura, but losses to Bournemouth and West Ham and narrowly scmolesting by Brighton tell a more complete story of Tottenham’s form.
But then Pochettino may have it right in claiming that emotions are what will rule the day, in lieu of skills and tactics. In which case, I’d wager Liverpool have that aspect of their game locked down, as well. The final is a one-off and anything can happen in 90 or 90+ minutes but with the strength of Klopp’s team and the form that the players have been in for months now, and the fact that we have Van Dijk and Alisson and Fabinho and Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané and the great Gini Wijnaldum, the time is right for a big, big moment in Liverpool country.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “Quite a lot of times, I was really touched by what the boys did, scoring the goals we scored, fighting the fights we fought and all that stuff. We have a lot of potential in the team and the boys mixed it up with an attitude I never saw before and that’s just outstanding.”
Mauricio Pochettino: “Everyone is expecting a tactical battle, but emotions will be the deciding factor. We’re two teams that know each other well, so no tactics are going to be a surprise. The emotional side is going to be fundamental.”