MADRID, The only thing left to play for the European club season before the summer is the UEFA Champions League, and similar to Wednesday’s Europa League final, it is an English team final in Madrid since Liverpool take on Tottenham. Who’ll start their holidays with a trophy and who’ll spend the offseason wondering what could have been? Here’s what you need to know before Saturday’s game, which kicks off in 3 p.m. ET. or 8 p.m. BST.
Liverpool arrives with the greater pedigree. They’ve won the European Cup 5 times, just Milan and Real Madrid have more. They reached the final just last season when they have been conquered by Real Madrid in Kyiv, Ukraine, but this they ended their season just one point off that the top place in the Premier League behind Manchester City. Liverpool is not the underdogs they were a season before. Contrast this with Tottenham. Just Michel Vorm, their 3rd choice goalkeeper, was born the last time they were in a European closing of any type! the 1984 UEFA Cup final.
That was the last time they went beyond the quarter-finals in Europe. Spurs finished 4th in that the Premier League and lost 2-1 both times they confronted Liverpool this season, although the second clash, in Anfield, was a particularly tight, hard-fought event that may have gone either way.
CARDIAC COMEBACKS, LIVERPOOL EDITION:
If it wasn’t for a dramatic win over Napoli in their closing group stage game in December, which saw them advance thanks to a tiebreaker, Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League pursuit would have ended ahead of the knockout rounds. Also, They pulled off a very dramatic turnaround at Anfield in the semifinals against Barcelona, winning 4-0 to wipe out a 3-0 first leg defeat.
CARDIAC COMEBACKS, TOTTENHAM EDITION:
Tottenham had been also headed out from the competition at December until Lucas Moura’s 85th-minute goal away to Barcelona at the Camp Nou, in the closing group stage game. Even then they only advanced thanks to the tiebreaker. Moura, of course, would prove decisive again in a great semi-final comeback against Ajax, notching a hat-trick which included a buzzer beater of a winner at injury time. Oh, and in that the quarterfinal against heavily favored Manchester City, a dramatic Fernando Llorente deflected goal with minutes to go, VAR drama with Sterlings disallowed goal saw Spurs advance.
NO SILVERWARE, NO PROBLEM:
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino famously said that trophies build egos, but league finishes and year-on-year improvement build clubs. While Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp has not quite gone that far, he too is living proof that a manager’s popularity rests on a lot more than how much Silverware he has won. But one of the two Premier League Bosses is going to lift their first Silverware with their respective club at the end of the night. Million dollar question is who is it going to be.