The day is here. It’s the biggest game of the season. Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool go head to head in Madrid in the Champions League final. How will the game go? Nobody knows. But we can do our best to analyze how the teams will fare.
Liverpool are big favourites tonight, with almost everybody expecting them to win their sixth European Cup. Tottenham haven’t quite been written off, but most people think it would be a surprise if they won it. And the reason people have that attitude is the Liverpool are the better team. The Reds finished a whopping 26 points ahead of Spurs in the Premier League this season. Jurgen Klopp’s men lost just one game in the league; Mauricio Pochettino’s men lost 13. Liverpool scored 89 goals and conceded just 22; Spurs scored 67 and conceded 39.
Liverpool are undoubtedly the superior team: there’s no doubting that. But it comes back to this being a one-off game. It really could go either way. Tottenham absolutely cannot be written off.
There are more factors at play than just Liverpool being stronger than Tottenham too. There’s been a three-week break between the end of the season and now. Liverpool were on a roll towards the end of the season and their momentum really carried them through. They won 13 of their last 14 games, with the 3-0 defeat to Barcelona at the Nou Camp being their only defeat. Spurs, on the other hand, looked dead on their feet and seemed desperate for a rest. They lost four and drew one of their last seven games in all competitions.
So, with that in mind, will Liverpool losing their momentum hurt them? And will Tottenham getting a rest help them? It’s certainly possible. But, again, maybe not. Nobody knows.
It’ll be interesting to see how both teams react to the break they’ve had. It’s almost like they’ve had a mini holiday, with the season finishing and then starting again. We saw players seem a bit rusty in Wednesday night’s Europa League final – will it be the same in the opening stages tonight? It may take some players a few minutes to find their feet. It’s almost certain that both teams have played some behind-closed-doors friendlies to help stay fully match-fit. But with it being the Champions League final, and the biggest game a lot of these players have ever played – and will ever play – they’ll make sure they’re right at the top of their game.
There are also a couple of question marks over who will play for both teams. Harry Kane and Roberto Firmino are the players with question marks over them, with both struggling with injury over the last few weeks. But the news on them sounds positive, and it seems like they’ll both be fit for the game.
Liverpool’s team almost picks itself, but they’re without Naby Keita so it’ll likely be a midfield of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Gini Wilnaldum. If Firmino is fit, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will play up top with him, of course.
But it’s tricky to decide how Tottenham will line up. If Kane starts, does that mean their hat-trick hero from the semi-final, Lucas Moura, will drop to the bench? That would seem extremely harsh considering that they wouldn’t be there without him. Son Heung-min could be a candidate to drop out to make room for Kane, but that would also be madness as he’s just that good. Or will Pochettino change things up completely and play Dele Alli deeper, alongside Moussa Sissoko, allowing Kane, Lucas, Son and Christian Eriksen to play? It’ll be interesting to see how he goes about it.
There are some very big decisions for both managers to make. They have to get everything spot on. Their tactics have to be perfect if they’re going to win this game. They’ll never forgive themselves if they get it wrong. They’ll have been thinking of how to set up for weeks and weeks.
Also, how will Liverpool deal with this game having lost in the final last year? Will there be nerves and bad memories? Or will they use the experience to their benefit and be less nervous this year? Spurs will certainly be nervous, as they haven’t had this experience before. They have to ensure their nerves don’t get the better of them and they play their natural game to the best of their ability.
Liverpool are big favourites for this, meaning all the pressure is on them. Spurs are complete underdogs, so they don’t have that added pressure. But, going back to earlier’s point, Liverpool are big favourites for a reason: they’re the superior team. But, again going back to earlier’s point, anything can happen in a one-off game.
Spurs have fought for everything in this season’s Champions League. They were close to going out of the competition on numerous occasions. Lucas Moura scored in the 85th minute in their last group game at the Nou Camp to salvage a 1-1 draw, while Inter Milan threw it away as they could only manage a draw against PSV Eindhoven at home. Spurs convincingly beat Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate in the last 16, before one of many dramatic nights in this season’s Champions league happened at the Etihad. You don’t need a reminder of that. Then, there was that amazing comeback in Amsterdam, when they were 3-0 down to Ajax and Lucas Moura scored a second-half hat-trick to put them through on away goals.
It almost seems like it’s written in the stars for Spurs to go and win this, as their never-say-die attitude could take them all the way. Of course, Liverpool have had amazing moments too, with the 4-0 win against Barcelona one of football’s greatest wins.
It’s so difficult to say which way this one will go. Being favourites doesn’t mean anything. If Liverpool turn up and play at their absolute best, they will win this game. A fit and firing Liverpool can’t be stopped, no matter how good Tottenham are.
All we can do is wait and see how it goes.
I haven’t been writing much as I have some other things going on at the moment, but I’ll be here now and again. I really enjoy writing here and will be doing my best to get back to writing the way I used to.
Hope you enjoy the game tonight. Let’s hope it’s an absolute cracker!
I was just proofreading this and I saw the news that Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a car accident at the age of 35. It’s absolutely horrific news and has really made me quite sad. He was a joy to watch when playing for Arsenal in the Premier League, and really helped them complete their Invincibles season. My thoughts are with his family and friends, and everybody that knew him. May he rest in peace.