Champions League Final Preview: Liverpool v Tottenham6 min read
The biggest night in club football approaches, with Liverpool and Tottenham making it the second all-English European final football fans are privy to this season.
Both clubs have had remarkable campaigns, with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds going head-to-head with Manchester City, only to come up two points short of lifting their first Premier League trophy. They have, however, now reached consecutive Champions League finals which is a major step in the right direction considering where they were only a few short years ago.
Tottenham, too, have overachieved during this season. While top four looked in doubt for some weeks, they finished fourth in the end and, beyond belief, have reached their first European final since beating Anderlecht in 1984 for the equivalent to the Europa League.
This game promises to spark into life and bring with it a rollercoaster of emotions. Here are Liam Canning’s key points:
Harry Kane’s fitness
There has been plenty of speculation since the end of the domestic season in order to ascertain Harry Kane’s fitness coming into the biggest game of Tottenham’s modern history.
Mauricio Pochettino has claimed Kane is not ‘100s Moura through the middle – two very different strikers to Kane.
However, if Kane is brought on with 20 minutes to go and the match is still in the balance, there are few better substitutes in the world to make a difference. Kane only needs one half-chance in front of goal to get his name on the scoresheet and cause an impact.
It is a massive decision for Pochettino to make, and Spurs fans will be crossing their fingers whichever way it swings, it is in their favour.
Stopping the threat of Sadio Mane
Mohamed Salah might have won the Premier League Golden Boot once again, but Sadio Mane’s prolifc nature in Europe has been remarkable.
Not only has he scored four goals in 12 matches, but the Senegal international has also contributed to three assists. When Liverpool were in search of two goals against Bayern Munich, Mane found them and was the difference maker in their Round of 16 tie.
His opposite man is likely to be Kieran Trippier, who has had a mixed season and low on confidence after being dropped by England for the Nations League. Mane, who is making 2.2 dribbles per-game, will fancy his chances up against the English full back and with Andy Robertson creating offensive diversions, Mane will have space and time to pick his next move.
Salah might be the golden boy of this Liverpool side, but expect Mane to be creating havoc inside and out all evening.
The benefit Liverpool have over Tottenham in Madrid is their past experience of being in this position just 12 months ago. What they will need to keep out of their minds is the fact they lost to Real Madrid, and instead use that as motivation to make sure they lift their sixth European trophy.
Spurs, for all they have been excellent to watch at times this season, know in their heart of hearts that they are rather fortuitous to be in this position. While that will not take anything away from how they play on the night, the overall size of the occasion and relative big-game inexperience to this level could come into effect as a disadvantage.
There is no doubt that this game will be emphatic to watch and keep Spurs fans, Liverpool fans and neutral fans’ hearts racing, but there has to be a winner at the end of the night. With Klopp’s Reds looking better equipped for the fight, they look set to add to their trophy cabinet.