The Champions League final takes place on Saturday evening, with Liverpool and Tottenham competing for the most prestigious prize in club football. We’ve compiled this preview with all the information you’ll need ahead of the big game.
Date and time: 01/06 – 20:00
Where to watch: The match is being broadcast on BT Sports, with coverage starting at 18:00. Non-subscribers can still watch the match for free by downloading the BT Sports app or watching on the BT Sports channel on YouTube.
The story: Two managers who have been accused of bottling big occasions, Jürgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino, will meet on Saturday night and one of them will shake off that unwanted tag by winning the most sought-after prize in club football.
Yet what will become of the loser? If Tottenham have their hearts broken, Arsenal and Chelsea fans will swarm social media to gloatingly accuse them of being Spursy.
If Liverpool have their hearts broken for a second year running, then Everton and Manchester United fans will sarcastically share the ‘next year is Liverpool’s year’ memes.
It has already been an incredible journey for both sides, who each staged remarkable semi-final comebacks to reach the final, with Liverpool shocking Barcelona and Tottenham overcoming a two-goal deficit to Ajax in the most dramatic fashion imaginable.
Liverpool were by far the better side of the two in the Premier League, finishing second with the third highest points total ever record in the division, and will be considered favourites as a result.
Yet in a one off game absolutely anything can happen, as Chelsea’s dramatic dismantling of Arsenal in the Europa League final on Wednesday proved.
Form: Liverpool won 13 of their final 14 matches of the season and have only lost one of the last 22. That defeat came in the Nou Camp in the first leg of the semi-final against Barcelona, who beat them 3-0. However, in sensational scenes they won the return leg to knock the Catalonians out.
Tottenham’s season petered out as fatigue and injuries took their toll on a thin squad who had more participants than any other club in the last four of the World Cup last summer. They only won two of their final eight matches but ,fortunately, they were just enough to see them finish a point above fifth-placed Arsenal and to overcome Ajax.
Based on form alone, Liverpool comfortably have the edge.
Head to head: Since Klopp and Pochettino took charge of their respective clubs, they have met nine times and the respective record doesn’t make pretty reading for the Argentinian. In that period, Spurs have won just one match, losing four.
Going back further though and things look even worse for Spurs who have won just twice in the last 16 head to head encounters, tasting defeat in nine of them. Coupling form with head-to-head record and it’s 2-0 to Liverpool.
Team news: Tottenham will be missing Ben Davies but have an otherwise fit squad to choose from. They have received a huge boost with the news that Harry Kane is back from injury and has declared himself fit to start, though whether Pochettino risks that considering his two month lay off is questionable.
Liverpool’s biggest concern is the fitness of Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino who has missed their last three games with a muscle problem. He is deemed 50/50 for the final but Liverpool are otherwise without any concerns.
What Klopp has said: “I couldn’t be prouder of the boys but we are not in the moment to feel it. I have to kick their backsides in training, I have to push them, I have to keep them awake. It’s a moment to really feel each muscle and it’s important we really say ‘Ok, come on, we need everything to do it because we want it’.”
What Pochettino has said: “Nothing is more important than what lies ahead. We can make history. We can write our history and provide our fans and family with the best happiness in football. To think about individual things is a bit embarrassing and a shame. I am not important. We have bigger things ahead.”
Verdict: It’s tough to get over Tottenham’s end to the season, even if they have enjoyed a few weeks to recuperate. Liverpool were in absolutely scintillating form as they pushed Man City right to the wire in the title race and the manner in which they routed Barcelona in the second semi-final will have sent shockwaves around Europe.
With match winners like Kane, Son, Eriksen and Alli in their ranks you clearly can’t write Spurs off but, given his record against Klopp, it would be foolish of me to plump for anything other than a Liverpool victory.