Jack Lang is expecting Jürgen Klopp's charges to come out on top in the Champions League final...
"It's hard to imagine any team lacking motivation ahead of a Champions League final, but it's safe to say that there will be a few extra layers to Liverpool's desire to lift the trophy"
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
Live on BT Sport 2
Spurs boosted by returning stars
How many rabbits can you feasibly store in a hat, exactly? That's the question for Mauricio Pochettino as he approaches the final act in a Champions League run that has defied logic at every turn. Tottenham qualified from a tough group despite struggling against the worst side in it; they found a way past Manchester City in heroic, slightly fortuitous circumstances; and then, just when you thought their reserves of grit had been exhausted, they came up with a miracle of a comeback in Amsterdam.
Whatever happens in Madrid, this will go down as a season to remember. But those who believe in fate might still be holding out for one last chapter in this story. Certainly, the three-week break between the end of the Premier League season and this final has played into Tottenham's hands: Harry Kane has declared himself fit to play, and there is further positive news over Harry Winks, Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sánchez, all of whom have had time to recover from injuries.
There's a very real possibility that all four of those players could start, especially if Pochettino opts for a back three. That system served Spurs fairly well at Anfield in March: they frustrated Liverpool for long spells and only succumbed at the death through a scrappy goal. The big question for Pochettino might be who to leave out; if Kane starts, that is likely to mean that Lucas Moura, the hero against Ajax, begins on the bench.
Liverpool out to create happier memories
It's hard to imagine any team lacking motivation ahead of a Champions League final, but it's safe to say that there will be a few extra layers to Liverpool's desire to lift the trophy on Saturday night. The first is the frustration of producing the third best points tally of the Premier League era but still finishing second behind Manchester City. The prospect of ending the campaign empty-handed will surely be playing on Jürgen Klopp's mind.
Then there is the redemption factor. There were mitigating factors to explain last year's final defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev - Mo Salah's injury, Loris Karius' chronic head loss - but the Reds still didn't give a great account of themselves on the biggest stage of all. They now have a chance to put that defeat to bed once and for all, and bring the European Cup back to Anfield for the sixth time.
Like their opponents, Liverpool have been sweating over the fitness of their key central striker. Roberto Firmino hasn't started a game since 21 April, and while Divock Origi deputised with some aplomb, the news that the Brazilian has been training this week is a big boost. With Naby Keïta the only confirmed absentee, Klopp's side will be close to full strength.
Reds a solid bet
Liverpool are rated as 1.981/1 favourites at the Wanda Metropolitano, and there's good reason to want to side with them at that price.
Firstly - and without wishing to sound glib - they have simply been a much better side than Tottenham over the last few months. Liverpool's form over the final months of the season was nothing less than stunning, with the 3-0 defeat in Barcelona the only time they failed to win in their last 14 matches.
Even that result could easily have been different, and there is a sense that they might eventually have caught Manchester City had the domestic season gone on for a few more weeks. Klopp's side have been relentless, with their nerve matching their technical quality. They also have recent final experience under their belts and will be desperate to make amends for Kiev (and, to a lesser extent) the Europa League defeat to Sevilla).
Liverpool beat Tottenham home and away in the league this season, and while Pochettino's extraordinary motivational skills should ward against any 'happy to be there' mentality, his record against Klopp is sketchy. He has only won one of nine meetings with the Reds since taking charge of Spurs, losing four. Throw in question marks over Kane's ability to hit the ground running after a lay-off, and it's slightly surprising that Liverpool aren't shorter.
Goals could flow
These sides have produced some absorbing matches in the last few seasons: both teams have found the net in seven of the last eight meetings, including both league games this term. Given the nature of the two managers, this seems unlikely to be a stodgy stalemate, and it's worth noting that very few Champions League finals have gone that way in recent years: a 'both teams to score' bet would have landed in 12 of the last 14.
1.814/5 for no clean sheets looks a reasonable price, then, and is a way of squeezing some more juice from the odds if you fancy Liverpool to win. You can use the Same Game Multi tool on the Sportsbook to back Liverpool/both teams to score double at 3.73.
All about the Mané
For Liverpool, the key attacking threat in Madrid could well be Sadio Mané. The 27-year-old has been in sensational form since the turn of the year, with 18 goals to his name, and could well be the chief beneficiary if his side has some joy down the flanks.
His direct opponent, Kieran Trippier, has had a shaky season and might have his hands full if Andy Robertson bombs forward as usual. Then there is Mané's strength in the air, which could be a factor at the far post if Trent Alexander-Arnold is given space on the opposite wing. Mané scored in last season's final and is 2.6213/8 to repeat the trick here.
Jack Lang's Champions League P/L, 2018/19
Back Liverpool at 1.981/1