Champions League Final Early Preview and Top Picks
Tottenham are the 8th English club to reach the final, the most of any country. Liverpool will look to claim their 6th UCL trophy qualifying for the 9th time in the final of the most important European club competition. On the other side, Tottenham won the 3rd edition of the European Cup winner’s Cup beating Atletico Madrid 5-1 in Rotterdam in 1963.
After the first legs of this season’s semifinals in which Ajax won 1-0 away against Tottenham and Barcelona destroyed Liverpool 3-0 on their turf, the 2 clubs looked set to face each other in the final. But then the 2 Premier League giants completed outstanding comebacks in the 2nd leg earning a well-deserved opportunity to fight for the trophy.
Lucas Moura was Tottenham’s hero scoring a superb hat-trick against Ajax including a last-second winner deep into injury time awarded by the ref. On the other side, despite being without 2 of their top players, Salah and Firmino, Liverpool somehow managed to complete a miracle comeback beating Barcelona 4-0 in front of their fans with 2 goals scored by Divock Origi and 2 by Georginio Wijnaldum who came from the bench in the 2nd half. This was arguably the greatest comeback in their history.
Tottenham’s main concern ahead of the clash is over the fitness of their striker and English national team captain Harry Kane. He has not played since 9 April when he suffered an ankle injury, but he is pushing to be fit for the most important match of the season. Without him, Spurs managed to knock-out the Premier League champs Manchester City in the quarterfinals and Eredivisie champions Ajax producing 2 brilliant comebacks. The experts are expecting Kane to be fit but they are also saying that he should be benched for the match and used just in case Tottenham need more firepower in the 2nd half. Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Davinson Sanchez, and Harry Winks are doubtful. On the other side, Liverpool will be without Naby Keita who suffered a thigh injury in the 1st leg of the semifinals against Barcelona at Camp Nou but they are full of confidence that Roberto Firmino will recover on time to complete their deadly attacking trio, Salah, Mane, and Firmino.
Liverpool brilliant head-to-head record against Tottenham makes them huge favorites for this clash. They won 9 of their last 14 mutual encounters losing just 1 time in the process. They also won their both Premier League head-to-heads this term scoring 2 goals in each match. Tottenham won just 3 of their previous 12 domestic league matches but they took advantage of Arsenal and United’s poor form finishing 4th and booking their Champions League tickets for the next season. Liverpool was very unlucky this season and despite losing just 1 EPL match all season long they somehow managed to finish 2nd, 1 point behind champions Manchester City.
We expect an entertaining match between 2 top European teams, but we believe Liverpool should have enough to lift the trophy this season. They have better players all over the pitch: center-back Virgil Van Dijk has been named the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Players’ Player of the Year for 2019 after an impressive season with the Reds. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane won the Golden Boot in a three-way tie with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with 22 goals.