Date: Saturday 1st June at 21:00 (Pretoria time, GMT +2)
Stadium: Wanda Metropolitan Stadium
For only the second time in European history, the Champions League final will be an all-English affair. Liverpool and Tottenham both made history in their respective semi-finals, and neutral fans’ will be hoping that the quality of games that were on show last time out continues. It could be a classic.
Tottenham were on the brink of being knocked out of Europe all together on the fifth matchday in the group stage. However, vital wins over PSV and a draw away against Barcelona at the Nou Camp ensured that they escaped; but only by the skin of their teeth. Their round of 16 tie came at the worst time for the club, with injuries to key players and dip in form. However, they shouldn’t have worried; Spurs were electric at Wembley in the first leg against Borussia Dortmund. They ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, before completing the job with a 1-0 success in Germany.
They were rewarded for this victory with a tie against Manchester City in the quarter-finals, and their hopes were high after a 1-0 win at the New Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the first leg; with Heung Min-Son scoring the only goal of the game. However, what followed next ensured that this game would go down as one of the best in the competition’s history. Raheem Sterling opened the scoring after five minutes before two Son goals gave Spurs the lead. Bernardo Silva levelled the scores again before City were put into the ascendency by Sergio Aguero 15 minutes into the second half. However, Fernando Llorente headed the ball past Ederson 15 minutes later and Spurs were on the brink. City thought they had won it in the 94th minute when Sterling scored following a cross from Aguero; only for VAR to disallow the goal since the Argentine was in an offside position.
See video: https://www.youtube.com/wGQcrSbBZR4
Spurs thought they could breathe again but their hearts were only being tested for a second leg in Amsterdam in the semis. Following a 1-0 defeat in the home leg, and trailing 2-0 at half time to Ajax; Mauricio Pochettino would have bee forgiven for fearing the worst. However, Lucas Moura scored a double to tie the scores up, before scoring the latest goal of this season’s competition to put the North London side into their first ever Champions League final. Pochettino dropped to his knees and the footballing world was in disbelief.
We should have seen it coming. Just 24 hours before the Spurs turnaround it was Liverpool’s turn. They travelled back to Anfield for the second leg of their tie against Barcelona after being battered 3-0 in Spain. Lionel Messi was in majestic form as he scored twice, while ex-Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was also on the scoresheet. Anfield was ready, but what transpired wouldn’t have happened in their wildest dreams.
Divock Origi put the Red’s into the lead with just under ten minutes on the clock, before the introduction of Georginio Wijnaldum changed the course of the game. The Dutch international scored a quickfire double to level the scores and the Spanish giants were shook. The game needed a piece of magic from somebody and with all eyes on Messi. Instead, it was to be Trent Alexander-Arnold who would upstage the Barcelona magician. The young full-backs quick thinking from a corner caught the whole stadium off guard, but luckily for Liverpool fans’ Origi was there to blast the ball into the Barcelona net. Remarkable. Never before had a team came back from three goals down to progress, but most sides don’t play their games at Anfield.
See video: https://youtube.com/watch?v=27GHT7nAF8A
It was undoubtedly the toughest task that Liverpool faced on their route to the final; with comfortable wins over Bayern Munich and FC Porto in the previous rounds. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that his team can learn from last season’s mistakes in the final. Only two teams in European history have lost consecutive finals, and the Red’s will be hoping that their name isn’t added to that list.
The fitness of Harry Kane will be the big question in the lead up for the final, but the England captain is expected to play some part. Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez and Danny Rose are also expected to be fit.
Adam Lallana will be missing for the Reds. However, Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino should be fit for Liverpool.
Head to Head
The form book certainly makes good reading for Liverpool fans, as they have only lost once in their past six meetings with Spurs. Furthermore, they have won four of these. Mohamed Salah has scored three in his past four against Spurs, while Harry Kane also boasts the same record. For that reason, it is understandable that Liverpool are the 0.50 favourites with BetXChange to lift the Champions League trophy.
This fixture has all the potential to be a Champions League classic, and with there being an average of 3.4 goals per game over the past five fixtures; it doesn’t like likely it will be a cagey 0-0 draw. However, in the end, Liverpool will rectify their defeat in the final last year, and Salah will get himself on the scoresheet.