It’s bittersweet since Liverpool knocked Bayern Munich out of the Champions League in the Round of 16, yes, but there’s still an incredible final on tap at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, especially for the neutral viewers.
Both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur pulled off footballing miracles in their second leg semifinal matches. Liverpool came from 3-0 down against Barcelona to advance 4-3 on aggregate and Tottenham scored three second-half goals in Amsterdam to tie Ajax 3-3 on aggregate, advancing on away goals.
The eyes of the world will be on Madrid come time for kickoff, and if both teams’ paths to the final is any gauge of what will unfold, we’re in for a real treat. That said, we thought we’d have our crack predicting how this final will go.
Tom Adams: Liverpool 2-1
It’s relatively well known within the BFW community that I’ve been a massive Liverpool supporter since I was about 12 years old, so I’m on pins and needles already — I want number six SO badly! I’m currently listening to Jürgen Klopp’s press conference with both Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who have all essentially said they’re not going to change the way they play for this one.
Alexander-Arnold: "We play with a certain style and we don't really change that. We can't just sit back, it's better for us to be high up the pitch and in their half. We will try to play our way."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) May 31, 2019
It’s no secret that Liverpool like to press high up the pitch and force their opponents into mistakes in their own defensive third. Klopp will have carefully rehearsed when he wants his front line to press hard and when he wants them to retract and sit deeper. I would guess that the gegenpress will be in full effect in the opening stages, tapering slightly throughout the first half — both sides are certainly going to show one another respect. The worry for me is Tottenham’s ability to play through the high press and/or spring counter-attacks; that’s where they can really hurt Liverpool. The back four of Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, and Joel Matip need to stay disciplined.
With all of that said, I think Liverpool can nip a 2-1 win in Madrid, if the proceedings unfold like they did in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Spurs at Anfield at the end of March. An early goal, Spurs equalize late first half or early second half, and Liverpool sneak in a late goal as both sides start to throw more number forward.
Marcus Iredahl: Liverpool 3-1
Liverpool 3-1 Tottenham
31’ – Mane
35’ – Salah
71’ – Milner (Penalty)
75’ – Lucas Moura
A final where both managers won’t take anything from granted, as they both overcame spectacular odds to reach this final. Both Maurizio Pochettino and Jürgen Klopp have injury problems as well. Roberto Firmino and Harry Kane just returned from injury and may not be in top condition.
Although Klopp’s tactics are much more predictable, I believe that this excellent Liverpool side will comfortably beat Tottenham. Their fast and direct pressing has been excellent throughout the entire season and in they arrive in their second consecutive Champions League final as favorites.
What is different this year is that Liverpool has managed to win games even when they are not playing particularly well. Their games against Everton and Newcastle epitomize Liverpool’s exceptional winning spirit.
Van Dijk is, in my humble opinion, one of the best players in the world at the moment. Klopp’s defense improved greatly after he was signed. This in turn has made the whole Liverpool team more confident in their high pressing style of play. I expect Liverpool to continue playing like they have the whole season and all though nothing is certain, especially in a single-match final, I think that it will be enough for them to win the title.
John Dillon: 0-0, Tottenham on penalties
Blah, an all-English Champions League final, days after an all English Europa League final...in Baku? We all lose. Since there it is unfortunately impossible for both these teams to lose, I’m pulling for both of them to show incredibly frustrating offensive ineptitude, tormenting fans for 90 minutes and then another half an hour of scoreless soccer, before the final goes to penalties. Let it be a final worthy of UEFA!
I can see Virgil van Dijk being beaten by Heung-Min Son. He twists and falls down on the pitch while the Korean dances past him — only for Son to hit the crossbar on what would have been a beautiful chip. At the other end, there’s Mo Salah driving up the right flank — he sends in a perfect cross, but Roberto Firmino somehow shoots it directly off of Hugo Lloris’s head. The ball sails over the goal. That’s the final I want.
At last, when both teams are exhausted and the line up for penalties, Liverpool will blow it when Fabinho or Alexander-Arnold or somebody or other panenkas his penalty and Lloris just stands there and catches it. Hurrah.
Chuck Smith: Liverpool 3-1
To be clear, I am not a fan of either team and I actually would like to see Tottenham Hotpsur pull this out...but, I can’t see Liverpool losing this. If Jürgen Klopp can’t find a way to win this, I think he deserves massive criticism.
I think Liverpool has the most dangerous offense in England and while the Spurs certainly are quality, I can’t see a collapse by LFC. I also like Tom Adams (Liverpool FAN BOY!), so I guess I don’t want to see him suffer (although he will get KILLED on the BFW Slack channel by certain folks — ***cough***Ineednoname***cough — if Liverpool squanders this opportunity.
I expect Liverpool’s vaunted offense to wear down the Spurs backline and Virgil van Dijk to be provide the stability and leadership from the center back position that he has become known for.
Logan Chugg: Tottenham 2-1
I am rooting for Tottenham. Outside of the Bundesliga, my favorite European team is Tottenham. This may have been evident when I was the only one at BFW to predict that they would beat Dortmund in their Round of 16 matchup. They have been the underdogs throughout most of the tournament, and that mentality should help them in the Final. Since the group stage they have been counted out by most. Other than their tie against Dortmund, Spurs have relied on late heroics in every round to move on.
Heung-min Son and Lukas Moura have been able to score when it’s needed the most. The team in general has also played well, even with English captain Harry Kane out for many of the important games. Now that Kane is rumored to be healthy, Tottenham should be back to full strength.
While my heart wants to say it will be a 4-0 rout in favor of Tottenham, my head says it will be a close game. I predict a late Spurs goal to force extra-time, followed by a Spurs winner in the second-half of extra-time. I am also feeling a goal from Son and Kane each.
COME ON YOU SPURS!