A Guide to the Champions League Final 2019
It has been another thrilling season in Europe’s elite competition and for the second time in 11 years, we have an all-English Champions League final, as Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool battle it out for silverware. Here’s all you need to know about the finalists.
Since joining the North London club, Mauricio Pochettino has transformed Spurs into a side that’s capable and worthy of competing with Europe’s elite, guiding them to their first ever Champions League final. Last season they lost out in the round of 16 to Italian giants, Juventus – their best finish since the 2010-11 season, when they got torn apart by Real Madrid in the quarter-finals (0-5).
Road to the Final
It’s fair to say that Spurs were drawn in the ‘Group of Death’, having to face Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven in the group stages. It wasn’t the best of starts for the North Londoners, who lost their opening two games against Inter and Barça. A draw against Eindhoven was followed by two wins at Wembley and a late draw against the Catalans in their final game sent Tottenham through on the head-to-head away goals rule, over Inter.
In the knock-out stages, Tottenham built a commanding lead over Borussia Dortmund in the first leg at Wembley (3-0) to win their round of 16 tie 4-0 on aggregate, before going on to face fellow English club Manchester City in the quarter-finals. Pochettino’s side took a slender 1-0 lead going into the second leg and despite losing 4-3 at the Etihad, Spurs were triumphant on away goals and progressed to the semis, facing the competition’s surprise outfit in Ajax. The semi-finals were all about amazing comebacks and having lost the first leg at Wembley, Spurs were triumphant in Amsterdam, coming from two goals down on the night to win the tie 3-2 and the away goal rule coming into force again.
There’s no doubt that the hat-trick heroics of Lucas Moura are worth a mention – to the extent that teammate Christian Eriksen said he “deserves a statue”. The Brazilian winger had already contributed with two goals in the competition, prior to winning the match-ball in Spurs’ comeback against Ajax.
There’s been massive expectation on Son Heung-min to step-up in Harry Kane’s absence through injury and the South Korean has certainly stepped up to the plate. Despite his suspension during the first leg against Ajax, he previously contributed with three goals in the quarter-finals and his performances have justified the praise that’s come his way.
For Liverpool fans, it’s a second Champions League final in as many years, but the Reds won’t like to be reminded of last year’s defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev. In fact, in the Champions League era, they’ve been runners-up on more occasions than actually winning it – that famous victory coming in Istanbul after being three goals down to AC Milan, during the 2004-05 season.
Road to the Final
After Benfica won their play-off match, Liverpool were demoted to pot three and were drawn in an equally difficult group, facing Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade. The Reds had mixed fortunes in the group stages – winning all of their home games, but losing them all on the road. They weren’t shy of goals, putting three past PSG at Anfield and netting four against Belgrade. Liverpool progressed as their head-to-head against Napoli saw them more fruitful in front of goal.
After holding Bayern Munich at Anfield to a goalless draw, the Reds were triumphant in Germany, winning 3-1 to set-up a quarter-final against Porto. They took a two-goal advantage to Portugal and were victorious on the road again, this time winning by a greater margin. Their semi-final saw them pitted against the Catalan giants and the odds were stacked against Liverpool, after their first leg ended in a 3-0 defeat. But anything Tottenham can do, ‘Pool can do better and they overcame the deficit, winning 4-0 to send the Kop into raptures.
Virgil van Dijk has been a rock at the heart of Liverpool’s defence and he has been instrumental in the competition so far. Liverpool have only conceded 12 goals in the Champions League, and there’s little doubting the Dutchman’s contribution. He also likes to get forward and has chipped in with a couple of goals and assists for his teammates.
Georginio Wijnaldum has been virtually ever-present in Liverpool’s Premier League/Champions League double charge. The midfielder famously came off the bench to a score a 122-second double in their comeback against Barça and he has one of the best pass accuracy percentages in the Champions League this season.
This season in the Premier League, Liverpool have down the double over Spurs – winning both matches 2-1. Overall, in their history of head-to-heads, Liverpool have the upper hand, with 82 victories, 48 losses (and 42 games drawn).
In terms of meeting in Europe, the two have only met once, in the UEFA Cup semi-finals of 1972/73. On that occasion, Liverpool were victorious on the away goal rule. Their 1-0 victory in the first leg was followed by a 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham’s record against English clubs in UEFA competition: W4 D1 L3
Liverpool’s record against English clubs in UEFA competition: W7 D8 L5
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