Premier League rivals Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur face each other in the Champions League final. Take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the game at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on 1 June.
Final redemption for Salah
A year ago, Mohamed Salah’s Champions League dream ended after just 30 minutes following a clash with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos. The Egypt international left the pitch in tears after a shoulder injury prematurely ended what should have been the climax to an individually brilliant first season with the club. While he has not reached the levels of last year, he still has 26 goals in 51 appearances and remains a pivotal figure – and with a point to prove on the biggest stage.
Poch to ponder future?
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has already dangled the prospect that he could walk away from the club if they were to win in Madrid. ‘To win the Champions League with Tottenham in these circumstances this season, maybe I need to think about maybe doing something different in the future,’ he said prior to their comeback win against Ajax in Amsterdam. The Argentinian marked his five-year anniversary at the club in the lead-up to the final, and has previously admitted that winning the Champions League would be difficult to repeat.
Klopp’s midfield conundrum
Judging by his past record in the competition this season, Jurgen Klopp has a big call to make whether to pick his captain Jordan Henderson or Fabinho. The pair have started only one Champions League match, the 4-0 semi-final second leg win over Barcelona, after Wijnaldum was rested. However, Wijnaldum and James Milner are the manager’s trusted pair, having each started 10 of their 12 matches, so seem certain to be in the XI, but it is a toss-up for the third place. Fabinho arguably put in his best performance for the club in the 4-0 comeback against Barcelona, but Henderson has been performing at a consistently high level over the last six weeks of the season.
Race for fitness
Both teams have fitness concerns, most significantly in their forward line. Roberto Firmino has been out since the start of the month with a groin injury, missing the Barcelona comeback, but remains hopeful of making the final. Spurs’ leading scorer, Harry Kane, has been out with an ankle injury since April 9, when he was forced off in the crucial quarter-final first leg win over Manchester City. However, he is optimistic of being fit, having started running a fortnight before the final. Jan Vertonghen, who sustained an ankle injury in the semi-final second leg against Ajax, is another concern, as is the general fitness of Dele Alli.
Who needs it most?
Klopp’s record in finals is well known, and remains the stick by which he is beaten. Since winning the 2012 German Cup with Borussia Dortmund, the German has lost the last six finals he has contested, three of which were with Liverpool (Champions League, Europa League and League Cup). For all the plaudits his side have received for the way they play, and despite Klopp’s insistence to the contrary, they do need to start picking up trophies. Pochettino is another manager who has been criticised for having no end product. By contrast, he has been in only one final, losing the 2015 League Cup final to Chelsea. Silverware would give his methods some validation and provide an answer to his critics.
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