With the first all-England CL final since 2008 set to take place on Saturday in Madrid, EPL rivals Tottenham and Liverpool face off in what surely will be a spirited affair. There is plenty at stake for both clubs. For Liverpool, runners-up to Manchester City in the EPL table by one point, a win in Madrid would allow the Reds to claim the title as the best club in Europe. For Tottenham, finishing in 4th place in the EPL, a CL win would afford the club and manager Mauricio Pocchetino some much-coveted silverware that has eluded the Lilywhites during Pochettino’s reign. Both teams upset some of the best teams in Europe to advance, with Liverpool beating Barcelona while Tottenham knocked-out Manchester City. Impressively, both squads advanced without their key offensive weapons, with the Reds lacking Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino while Spurs were missing Harry Kane and Son-Heung-Min. All four are expected to be match-fit by Saturday and available for selection, although Kane’s injury might see him coming off the bench.
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Injuries: As mentioned above, Tottenham’s Harry Kane would appear to be unlikely to be available to start the match but could be healthy enough to contribute on the pitch coming off the bench. For Liverpool, midfielder Naby Keita is questionable for the match as he recovers from a groin injury but could be available off the bench as well. Having a break of almost three weeks in between their last EPL match and the CL final should help the overall fitness of both squads after a long season.
Keys to the Match: In a word, depth. While in the CL final last year, Liverpool lost Salah early in the match through injury with Firmino ineffective as his replacement in a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid. With a current front line of Firmino, Salah and and Sadio Mane, this is a stronger and deeper Reds team than last year. Should any of this trio need to be substituted, striker Divock Origi has proven to be effective off the bench. Additionally, after the suspect goalkeeping from Loris Karius, his Brazilian replacement Alisson has been a breath of fresh air.
While Tottenham has a solid team overall, they were the only team in the EPL not to participate in the transfer window, supposedly to allocate any excess funds towards their new stadium. As a result, manager Pochettino was unable to infuse his squad with new players to improve the team. He was also unable to purchase players to provide quality substitutes for his starters, which resulted in a dip in their results and allowed Chelsea to finish in 3rd place in the EPL.
Who Will Win: Manager Pocchettino has done an admirable job getting Spurs to the final match of the CL, but it is hard to see how they can beat Liverpool without a fully-fit Harry Kane. Additionally, the aging back line of Tottenham will have a hard time neutralizing the speed of the front line of the Reds. While the Tottenham has credited the universe for rewarding his team’s play, it will not be enough to overcome the sheer talent of Jurgen Klopp’s squad. Liverpool will be hoisting the European Cup at the end of the game with a 3-1 win.