Tottenham Hotspur take on Liverpool in the final of the UEFA Champions League on 2 June, 2019 at the Wanda Metropolitana in Madrid.
The highly anticipated, all English, final is slated to be one of the most intense games for both sides due their tactics of fast pace counter-pressing football.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs will be looking to capitalise on their maiden European final appearance, while Klopp and his team will be look to win their first trophy since his arrival in 2015 following last years loss to Real Madrid.
It has been over three weeks since the end of the Premier League, giving the finalists a well earned rest for what is set to be final that will be played on the front-foot by both teams.
Here are the key battles and players that can influence the game and help their side win the elusive European glory:
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
The Dutchman has been a rock in Liverpool’s back-line. Since his arrival in January 2018, Liverpool have been able to address their main issue - conceding goals. His ability in the air is second to none and he is tasked with making chances during offensive set-pieces and getting the ball cleared during defensive ones.
No player has been able to dribble past Virgil van Dijk in the entire season, Champions League and Premier League alike.
If it is to be the night that Liverpool lift their sixth European title, Van Dijk will have to be the commander-in-chief that pushes his team forward.
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Arguably one of Tottenham’s best defender in recent times, the Belgium international has been able to cement his spot as a favorite among the Spurs faithful.
Vertonghen is someone who is able to play the ball from the back and is calm under pressure, which will come in handy against a Liverpool side that is known for pressing and closing down opponents in their own half.
Vertonghen also has the ability to nick in important goals at crucial moments, something that will test Liverpool’s back-line.
Fabinho joined Liverpool at the start of the current campaign. Although it took him time to settle and play the Klopp brand of football, his surge in the latter half of the campaign, especially the Champions league has been extraordinary.
He was a key part of the miracle against Barcelona at Anfield in which he controlled the midfield against Sergio Busquets, Phillipe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic.
Fabinho’s ability to break up play and intercept passes has helped Liverpool in counter-pressing and hitting players on the counter-attack.
He is a also a player that excels in the dark arts of the game and concedes important fouls. He will play an important role and would be crucial for the Liverpool side to play their best football.
Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham Hotspur)
Sissoko was on his way out of the club before the current campaign got underway. He was not taken along for the pre-season tour with the team and looked out of favour with the manager.
However, in what can be called a miraculous turnaround, he has played a starring role for Spurs in the Premier and Champions League.
His ability to drive from the midfield has helped Spurs find a new and direct attacking option. With great control and the ability run with the ball at a rapid pace, Sissoko will look to break the Liverpool lines with his direct approach.
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
While, you can expect all three of Liverpool’s forwards to fire on all cylinders, Sadio Mane has been the player that has provided the Red’s with the sharpness upfront. His burst of speed and trickery have been key to Liverpool beating the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Mane, is enjoying the best goal-scoring season of his career, and his form has been exceptional through the campaign. The Senegalese has combined well with Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah, forming one of the most most feared attacking line in Europe.
Playing on the left flank, his battle with Trippier will be something that Spurs will not look forward to.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
With his manager reporting that Harry Kane will be fit to play the final, Kane will definitely prove to be the biggest threat to Liverpool’s back-line. The England captain is one of the most prolific goal scorers in the world, and with him back in the squad, Spurs receive a much needed lift.
The battle that will be the most looked forward to for the neutral fans will be Harry Kane taking on Virgil van Dijk.
However, most predict that Kane will not be playing the full 90 minutes and might even start the clash on the bench. With a player of his quality, Kane can be destructive with any amount of time he spends on the pitch.
With the stage set, both English clubs will look to lift the cup with what is being touted as one of the most attacking finals ever.
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