It's an all-Premier League final in Madrid. Michael Cox and Alan Thompson preview Saturday night's final...
"Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool start as strong favourites, having finished two places ahead of Spurs in the Premier League table, and having beaten them home and away."
Tottenham v Liverpool
Saturday 20:00, BT Sport 2.
Match Odds: Tottenham 4.47/2, Liverpool 1.981/1, The Draw 3.711/4.
After the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals, it seemed impossible that we'd be set for an all-English final. But Liverpool and Tottenham battled through to set up an unlikely final in Madrid, only the second time two English sides have faced one another in the final.
The previous occasion was back in 2008, a defensive-minded clash between Chelsea and eventual winners Manchester United. But there's no reason to think that this match will be similarly cagey: that 2008 clash merely represented the cautious style of football that dominated the Premier League at that point. Now, this game should be open and positive thanks to the presence of two managers who concentrate heavily upon pressing.
Liverpool odds-on favourites
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool start as strong favourites, having finished two places ahead of Spurs in the Premier League table, and having beaten them home and away. After last year's disappointment against Real Madrid, they'll be particularly keen for revenge. Klopp has a poor record in finals, but that's unlikely to have any impact upon his approach here.
Klopp's starting selection has been fairly consistent in recent months - when he has a fully fit XI to choose from - although he has a concern here about Roberto Firmino, who has trained this week but might be short of full fitness. It seems likely Klopp will risk him here, although if not he has a major decision about who to play instead.
Daniel Sturridge would be the most natural replacement in terms of playing upfront but doesn't offer Firmino's all-round qualities. Divock Origi's performance in the semi-final means he could start instead, with the option to rotate him and Sadio Mane, with Mohamed Salah on the right. It's also not unthinkable that Klopp could use Gini Wijnaldum upfront for his pressing qualities, as he did away at Barcelona.
Solid midfield, dynamic full-backs
But Firmino will probably be fit, and Wijnaldum will be battling with James Milner for a place in midfield, although Jordan Henderson, revitalised in his old box-to-box role, with Fabinho sitting deep in front of the defence.
At the back it's the usual quartet. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are Liverpool's top two assisters this season and their overlapping runs will cause Spurs problems. At the back, Virgil van Dijk will play alongside Joel Matip, who has quietly been very impressive in recent months. Alisson will play in goal, and will presumably fare better than Loris Karius last year.
Kane likely to return
Tottenham's team selection and formation is, as ever, more difficult to predict. Mauricio Pochettino is fully capable of using either a three- or a four-man defence, and has often been forced to switch between those systems according to how many players he has available recently.
This time around, though, he has a relatively fit squad - and seems likely to be boosted by the return of Harry Kane, who has been seen competing in training sessions in a manner that suggests he's fit to play this game. If so, Pochettino will surely start him upfront despite the form of others.
That will mean Pochettino using a 4-2-3-1 formation, and there's a good chance that Lucas Moura, the hattrick hero of the semi-final, will be the one to miss out. He started upfront at Ajax, but Kane might come in in, essentially, a straight swap.
Son Heung-min will probably start from the left flank, up against Alexander-Arnold. Pochettino trusts Son defensively, but will also encourage him to get in behind Liverpool's right-back, who can switch off defensively. Christian Eriksen could start centrally but is more likely to drift inside from the right flank, with Dele Alli motoring forward from midfield positions to the edge of the box in support of Kane. Even if Kane is fully fit, he will probably be relying on others to sprint in behind.
Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko is the probable central midfield combination, with the latter amongst Spurs' best performers this season. He'll be crucial in a fast and frantic midfield battle.
Spurs' real concern is at right-back. Kieran Trippier has endured a poor campaign and was responsible for both concessions away at Ajax, so it's not unreasonable to think Serge Aurier could come into the side. Danny Rose is less of a concern at left-back, while Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld still have an excellent relationship, although they did let in Firmino to score a headed opener in the recent meeting at Anfield. In goal, Hugo Lloris has had a mixed campaign - he's looking to add the European Cup to the World Cup he won last year, and would be one of very few players to win both as captain.
I fancy Liverpool here, particularly with Mane's speed up against Trippier - that's Liverpool's most consistent attacker this season against Spurs' weak link. Pochettino's tactical flexibility has covered up his side's weaknesses, but I think this might be a hurdle too far. I'll back Liverpool at 1.9720/21.
The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson
Both these clubs produced incredible semi-final displays to reach this final and I am expecting this game to be just as entertaining. Both teams have scored in seven of their last eight encounters, and with each of the last eight Champions League Finals also seeing both teams find the net, there is every reason to expect another exciting game.
It’s hard to imagine that Jurgen Klopp’s men could actually finish the campaign without a trophy to their name after becoming the best runners-up in Premier League history. The Reds are rightly, in my opinion put in as favourites to win this at just under evens, they have beaten Spurs 2-1 both home and away this season and when they beat Wolves on the final day of the Premier League they had won 13 of their last 14 competitive fixtures.
Spurs on the other hand kind of limped towards the end of their domestic campaign, losing five of their last eight in all competitions. They lost a total of 13 league games this season, that’s three more than any of the other top six (Liverpool lost once). I think even if Harry Kane is fit to play, while he is a major plus for Spurs, ultimately I don’t see how they can beat this Liverpool side.
I am tempted to back Liverpool to win 2-1 in the correct score market but instead will go for Liverpool/Yes in the Match Odds and Both teams to Score market at anything around 4.03/1. I am also going to back Sadio Mane to open the scoring at 6.611/2, he has scored 26 goals for Liverpool this season, four of which came in the Champions League and the Senegalese attacker has netted six goals in his last eight appearances in all competitions.