First things first, what an achievement from the 2 teams to make it to a European final and the glam of the Champions League. Both of these teams has a different story but ultimately there is only one goal and that is to win. I will pick up the differences below and why that night in Madrid could be huge for both clubs involved whether it be the biggest achievement in the history of the club or break a ‘voodoo’ and get some more silverware added to the cabinet.
I probably speak for most people who said 10 days ago, neither of these teams would be battling it out for the pinnacle of European Football, the Champions League trophy. That night at Anfield will probably live long in the memory of all Liverpool fans. 3-0 down against the Greatest player of all time, missing Salah and Firmino who are instrumental in terms of goals but also the style that Liverpool play in. Moments of magic from Gini Wijnaldum and Trent Alexander-Arnold allowed Liverpool to run riot over a Barcelona which were completely outwitted in all areas of the pitch. Tottenham on the other hand were down and out. 2-0 against a young Ajax team which were always looking dangerous and creating chances but as soon as Ziyech started missing chances, maybe it was meant to be? Lucas Moura produced his inner Ronaldo 9 and the 96th minute left limbs still being picked up around Amsterdam by the travelling faithful.
Liverpool have 5 European Trophies in their trophy cabinet, Spurs have 0. Maybe that is the 1st advantage given to Liverpool. The club is built on European success and I have no doubt that they won’t need reminding. For Spurs however, the pressure is off. Win and they become the greatest ever Tottenham team in history, instant legends. Lose and they lost to a team that have just got 97 points and somehow not won the league? Beaten Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG along the way so you may have to give credit where credits due, still a monumental occasion for the club and they will be hopeful of the future under Pochettino.
Liverpool are back to full strength and will be ready to fire on all cylinders after last year’s defeat to Real Madrid. They have won both Premier League fixtures vs Spurs this Premier League campaign by 2-1 at Home and Away so maybe that will also add a psychological advantage? Spurs are possibly going to risk Harry Kane for the big one and he won’t be 100% for sure, but a calculated risk and this occasion will not hold him back. Jan Vertongen is rumoured to be struggling which would also be a massive loss when having Salah and Mane charging down the wings so again, another advantage to Liverpool.
But, have you ever heard of the term ‘Spursy’? Well this has the potential to not be it.. Underdogs and 2 key players possibly not 100% BUT nobody wants to write Spurs off. Even getting to this stage has defied the odds. A headline in the Evening Standard on 12th December 2018 shows why.. PSV have told Tottenham to “thank us later” after holding Inter Milan to a 1-1 draw at San Siro to help Spurs reach the Champions League last-16 stage. I am sure PSV are even more delighted that the team they helped have now managed to knock out their arch rivals Ajax out in the semi-finals and saved themselves the antagonisation from Ajax fans that would of followed. With counter attacking football, Spurs are able to get from front to back very quickly with link up play between Alli, Son, Moura, Kane with the occasional cameo from Moussa Sissoko.
I think this final will come down to Full backs. Yes, I said Full Backs. Both strike forces have the ability to punish either team and create chances right until the end and maybe it could be an absolute goal fest? But with Alexander-Arnold and Robertson vs Trippier and Rose, this could be the real game changer. May be an easy selection to pick out but I really feel both sides are fairly even all over the pitch except here. Both have average to good midfielders (Liverpool maybe edge it with Fabinho, Gini, Henderson) A solid centre-half partnership and a very very good front 3.. so this full back mismatch could win it.. in Liverpool’s favour. Overlapping and Assists have been key to Liverpool’s success this season, TAA and Robertson have managed to transform that position into their own and nobody can get close to the levels that they have reached this season in the whole of world football.
Who is this game bigger for? Liverpool and Klopp are still chasing silverware as they have not managed to get one since 2006 in an FA cup Final at the Millennium stadium (yes it was that long ago) **2012 League Cup actually, I stand corrected** . They have obviously come close and are improving massively but they need to go that one step further and get the winning mentality back in the club and they could become a force for years. Spurs have an opportunity to be written into Folklore but again, they have not won a trophy since 2008 in the League Cup Final (if that counts). The winning of the Champions League is one that every footballer dreams of and for sure this game will be one to remember.
The fans will be there in their thousands and I’m sure the atmosphere on the streets will be like a carnival. Whatever method of transport people have been forced to use to get there due to the greed of the airlines and the hotels, this will be one to remember forever.
May the best team win but I believe Liverpool will edge this 2-1.
**Photo Courtesy of sportinglife.com**