Here’s Leonid with his UEFA Champions League final preview of Liverpool v Spurs.
UEFA Champions League final preview – Liverpool v Spurs
Liverpool play Spurs at Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, on Saturday, June 1, 2019.
Naby Keita is a long term absentee. Apart from that Firmino is the only key player who has been doubtful. He missed Liverpool’s last 3 matches but is back in training and expected to be fit. Robertson, who has been an injury doubt, is also expected to be fit. Previous injury absentees Oxlade Chamberlin and Lallana could be fit but lack of match practice makes them doubtful starters for such a big game.
Klopp has consistently played 4-3-3 with only the midfield 3 and Van Dijk’s centre back partner not being pretty fixed.
Possible lineup: Alisson: Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson: Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum: Salah, Firmino, Mane
Harry Kane was expected to be out for sometime with damaged ankle ligaments but is himself reportedly saying he is certain to be fit. While Pochettinho’s love of Kane is widely known it’s a big gamble to start Kane after such a long lay off. Vertonghen, Sanchez, Rose and Alli missed all or part of Spurs last Premier League match but are expected to be fit
Unlike Klopp, Pochettinho has used a number of different formations, even against the top 6 sides, so it is difficult to predict his formation and resultant lineup but here’s my thoughts
Possible lineup: 3-5-2 Lloris: Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Sanchez: Trippier, Rose, Eriksen, Alli, Sissoko: 2 of Kane, Moura or Son. That’s fairly attacking lineup and he could go to a back 4 and have 2 more defensive midfielders in the double pivot of Wanyama and Sissoko with an attacking midfield 3 of Eriksen, Alli and Son/Moura with Kane leading the line.
The Premier League form of the 2 sides could not be more contrasting. Liverpool have won their last 9 matches. Spurs have lost 7 of their last 12 and only won 3. Those wins were against Huddersfield, Brighton and Crystal Palace.
Years ago trying to predict the outcome of a major domestic or European final would have been like walking into a casino and betting on red or black. However these days the dominance of a few sides in Europe’s top 5 leagues and the imbalance of finances means that finals are now more like casino games where the house seems certain to win. Take Man City’s FA Cup final vs Watford for example. Given the contrast in form I mentioned above then it’s therefore it’s not surprising that on sites such as vcbet you’ll find that Liverpool are extremely strong favourites to win the final.
However the situation really isn’t that straightforward, even if you put to one side Spurs two legged win in the quarter finals against Manchester City and their amazing comeback v Ajax. Liverpool’s home game with Spurs at the end of March saw Liverpool win 2-1 in a game that needed a 90th minute Alderweireld own goal for Liverpool to win after a rather too common Lloris blunder.
That game saw Spurs edge possession 51% to 49%, and only narrowly be behind on shots (14-11) and shots on target (3-2). In xG terms there was virtually no difference with Liverpool only slightly ahead at (1.09-1.05).
This was a massive improvement from Spurs on their first meeting in the Premier League in September where Liverpool totally dominated and a 2-1 score line flattered Spurs. Spurs were out shot 17 to 11 and the xG comparison was a staggering 3.02 to 0.79. Spurs could point to a continuation of a World Cup hangover in that game though.
The question will be whether Spurs midfield can give sufficient protection to the Spurs back 3 or 4. Spurs need a midfield overhaul in the Summer (if there are funds available) as they really have no quality defensive midfielder. Wanyama is the only player who has tackle and interception stats anything like a top 6 defensive midfielder should. However injury and the resultant lack of mobility make him a questionable selection. This could be a major problem if the fullbacks need covering if Salah and Mane stay up field. Sissoko is nothing like a sitting defensive midfielder and Winks if he is fit enough to start is a good passer but does not provide enough defensive activity to play in the position without support.
However Spurs trump card is Pochettinho’s ability to find solutions where seemingly there are none and this game could be much closer than many think.