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UEFA Champions League Final Preview

Estadio Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid is the venue for the second all-English UEFA Champions League final as Tottenham Hotspur, the North London club appearing in their first final take on a Liverpool side bidding to put aside the pain of 2018 defeat by Real Madrid. This is the seventh Champions League finals between clubs from the same country since 2000. These two teams meet on Saturday 01 June, 2019 at 20.00 WAT/21:00CET.

Slovenia’s Damir Skomina will take charge of the final and he will be assisted by his countrymen Jure Praprotnik and Robert Vukan. He officiated the 2012 UEFA Super Cup between Chelsea and Atlético Madrid and the 2017 Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United.

Former Spain international and a 2005 winner of this competition with Liverpool – Luis Garcia is UEFA ambassador for the finals. Luis García played for Atlético Madrid in 2002–03 and from 2007 to 2009.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v LIVERPOOL – SAT. 01 JUNE 2019, 20.00HRS
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TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Throughout the competition, Spurs have been minutes away from exiting starting from the 85th minute Lucas Moura equalizer at the Camp Nou against Barcelona in the group stage to book a round of 16 spot to VAR cancelling Raheem Sterling last minute goal in the quarter finals and Lucas Moura winner with almost the last kick in Amsterdam.

Tottenham Hotspur will be playing in their first Champions League final; they are the eight English club to appear in the European cup final and the first newcomers since Chelsea in 2008. Mauricio Pochettino’s team finished runners up in Group B behind Barcelona. They brushed aside Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 before knocking Manchester City out in the all English affair in the last eight. Ajax were the next victim in line as Spurs turned a three goal deficit in one half of football at the Johan Cruijff ArenA to book their place in the finals.

Spurs have evolved as they progressed in the competition but it is pretty obvious Harry Kane is the star of his team. The striker looks to have recovered from his recent injury and will be available for selection. Pochettino’s team has required different players for every moment; the Lilywhites are not a one-man team. Heung Min Son lit up the Etihad during the quarter finals while Lucas Moura was the man of the moment in the semis.

LIVERPOOL

Liverpool are seeking their sixth European Cup – and second Champions League triumph, following their memorable comeback against AC Milan in 2005. Since the Istanbul success, Liverpool have suffered heartbreaks in Athens and Kyiv last season.

This final represents another fantastic opportunity for Jurgen Klopp to end his trophy drought as Liverpool boss having narrowly missed out on the Premier League in a fascinating domestic league campaign. Klopp’s troops are playing a successive Champions League final having lost to Real Madrid last season. The Reds have won five of their eight previous European Cup finals and this is the third time they have reached successive European Cup finals. Liverpool have made giant strides since the German arrived at Anfield but the lack of trophies is putting a bit of pressure on him. The Anfield giants scrapped through the group stage finishing behind Group C winners Paris Saint-Germain. They knocked Bayern Munich out in the round of 16 before seeing of Porto in the last eight. The epic comeback against Barcelona after losing the first leg in Spain has got to be the highpoint of their run to the finals in Madrid.

Liverpool high press and ruthless counterattacking display has seen them dominate games. The attacking trident of Mane, Firmino and Salah are arguably the best front trio in Europe but the Reds have improved significantly defensively with Virgil van Dijk leading the defense and reliable Alisson Becker in goal. Attacking full backs in Andy Robertson and homegrown lad – Trent Alexander-Arnold provide excellent width in attacking situations. Klopp has built a strong well rounded team that can cope effectively with absentees.   

VERDICT – Who will win the 2019 Champions League final?

This final represents a huge and significant achievement for the Premier League, priding itself with producing four European Cup finalists in one season. Spurs have never won in Spain, where their overall record is 3D, 3L while Liverpool’s record in Madrid is 1W, 1D, 2L, those two defeats coming in their last two trips – to Real Madrid in the 2014-15 Champions’ League group stage and Atlético in the 2009-10 Europa League semi-finals. Liverpool did a league double over Spurs this season but this final is a different kettle of fish. Tottenham have won 1 of their last 14 matches against Liverpool in all competition. Seven of the last eight matches between these two had goals. After last season heartbreak, the Reds will be determined to bring smile to their passionate fans. Liverpool have the experience of competing in previous finals but Spurs are capable of causing problems to any team and will fight to death for this trophy. It has to be said that Liverpool has a more balanced and in-form team while Spurs have some major injury concerns. A winner has to emerge on Saturday and it is likely to the Reds lifting their sixth European crown.

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