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Thread: Champions League Final 2019

  1. #1
    Kop Legend Big Dave's Avatar
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    Default Champions League Final 2019

    I can think of no pithier title than the simple one I chose, simply because two CL finals in two years is something truly special (not to mention the way we got through the semi-final).

    As is my tradition, I entered the lottery for the general sale in February and landed a Category 1 ticket and took UEFA up on that (even if I had been forced to sell it to some Spurs fan for the price of a new VW Golf). After the quarters, I booked my flights from Bilbao to Madrid & from Madrid to London, burning some BA miles, figuring I'd eat those if Barca rolled us. I had the sense (as I was home, sober) to immediately go on Trivago after the last game and managed to book the last €250/night hotel room in Madrid. Sorted. If any of the four remaining Forumites are going, I'd love to meet up!

    With the gloating in, let's talk about the game. Think Bobby will be fit for the final; he certainly looks a better chance than Kane. Front 3 same, back 5 same (TAA, please). Who to play in midfield? For me it's Gini, Hendo & Fabinho.

    Spurs wouldn't have been my choice for the match, if only for the romanticism of meeting a fallen European great like Ajax (and I hold no interest in an 'all-English' final, ugh). Plenty of Spurs fan around where I live (admittedly I live close) and in the office, so losing would be hard to take. We are the bookies' favourites and deservedly so, but Spurs are no mugs. It just depends which Spurs team shows up.

    I'm curious to see what tactics Klopp chooses here, whether he plays it safe or lets the boys off the leash.
    "It's cool."
    - Jurgen Klopp

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    I presume folks have seen the FB meme about Liverpool beating the champions of various countries en route to the final. It is actually impressive, especially when matched up against Spurs' journey which included only 1 champion (City) and saw them getting tonked at home to Barca in the group stages. But it should also be remembered that our journey included a skin-of-your-teeth, breath-taking save by Alisson to get past Napoli 1-0. Granted, we have improved by leaps and bounds in the knock-out rounds and Spurs' overall record recently has been spotty. Though don't take anything away from back to back aggregate wins over City and Ajax.

    Simply, if we see the Liverpool of 4-0 over Barca and the Spurs of 0-1 (h) of West Ham, then this is going to be a very one-sided final. In truth, we should have too much for them, with our back 4 in majestic form and the front 3 brimming with confidence. First up, the team. I'd go with the usual back 4 (TAA rather than Gomez), the usual front 3, assuming a fit Firmino. If not, then Origi, but I could see Shaqiri. The midfield has to see Fabinho start and it'll be difficult to leave out Wijnadum after his Barca heroics. If this were last season, I might be inclined to start Milner ahead of Henderson, but Henderson has shown too much value at both ends of the pitch especially in the back end of this season to be sat down. Milner, AOC, Lallana or Shaqiri might all be in with a chance, but Henderson is the best pick of that bunch. Keita has traveled to Spain for the warm weather training, but I wonder of that's not more for unity and camarderie than present ability? Even if fully fit, I still think Henderson gets the nod.

    That training squad, by the way, is:
    Alisson, Mignolet, Kelleher;

    Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Moreno, Robertson, Van Dijk;

    Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Jones, Lallana, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Wijnaldum, Woodburn;

    Brewster, Firmino, Mane, Origi, Salah, Sturridge.

    In the final itself, both sides are permitted 23 players; the above list has 26, so 3 to miss out.


    So to Spurs. What about them? The most obvious personnel observation is the injuries to Dele Alli, Vertonghen and Kane. All will probably be in the squad (and maybe even the team come kick off), but match fitness has to be a very real concern. Kane has been out since April 9th (53 days come kick off) and Dele Alli took a knock on the last day of the season. Vertonghen was injured in the away Ajax leg. Still, as Lallana showed last season, the Champions League Final is not the place to be hawking your wares when not fully fit. I think we might see Kane start on the bench. But Moura's Amsterdam heroics aside, the key man for Spurs is Son. A superb player, he would make this Liverpool side and has really stepped up in the absence of Kane. I see him as a Firmino type - prepared to track back and often on the end of moves. Moura played very well against us at the back end of March and there was an inevitability about his name appearing on the score sheet, such was his play and persistence that day. As he showed in Amsterdam, when he's on, he is quite the handful. Eriksen is a class player, but too often goes missing, especially when the going gets tough. I would expect Henderson, Fabinho or Wijnaldum to put in a few choice tackles there early on, though hopefully without a yellow. Rose and Trippier are really good attacking full backs in the TAA/Robertson mould, but perhaps, like TAA, questions have been asked of their defensive prowess.

    There has been a few pundits and observers who think beating a team 3 times in one season is quite the ask and I suppose there's a nugget of truth there. But in reality, I think having beaten Spurs home and away so far, this should allow Liverpool to believe and understand. This Spurs side is not invincible, they do have a soft underbelly, you can get to them. Liverpool have found out how. Granted the Anfield game was last-gasp stuff and maybe Lloris is due a world class game, but I don't rate the Spurs defense as a cohesive unit. They've lost 5 of the last 8 in all competitions, shipping 12 goals, while scoring 9. Their end of season form in the League of 1 win, 3 losses and a draw is a reminder of how fragile they can be. Yes, undoubtedly, they pulled off heroics beating both City and Ajax, but both those ties were close run things, both on away goals and not the emphatic wins of Liverpool.

    For all the form book, pretty much anything can happen in a one-off final. Salah/Ramos last season? No one predicted that, nor indeed Bale's wonder strikes. Form doesn't exactly go out the window, but perhaps it's not as important an indicator what with a month or more for both sides to prepare. Had the final been a week after the season's end, I think Liverpool would have been prohibitive favorites; but with a month to rest injuries and focus the teams, I think that'll stand Spurs in their stead. Not to say it won't also help Liverpool, as the last few weeks of our season were particularly frenetic, so a pause, a break and a regroup should work wonders. But the huge plus Liverpool have on their side, probably even more than form, is experience. They were in touching distance last season, almost there, they could taste it. That defeat left a personal debt the players and the team want to repay. The depth in the respective squads favors Liverpool - a half fit Lallana is now not the only option if Salah gets injured. Yes, Spurs do have decent replacements, probably better than we had last season, but I can't help feeling Spurs are more the team of 6 wins in the last 17, since the back end of February, rather than a team purring with class and oozing confidence.

    Like most games, it'll be won and lost in midfield and as good and energetic as Spurs' midfield is, Liverpool's is better.

  3. #3
    Kop Legend Big Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    I think your analysis is spot on. Pocchetino gets a lot of kudos for his tactical nous, whereas Klopp gets kudos for his motivational skills and very little for his tactics, which is odd. Our manager has some serious tactical capacity, even without his 'Brain' and he's shown it this year in a most varied fashion. He doesn't tweak shape so much as where to press, how high to move up the wingbacks and how much leeway he gives to his midfielders, but it's definitely horses for courses.

    Spurs may have a plan, but it's certain we do to, but with a one-off game, luck has more than its fair share of influence.
    "It's cool."
    - Jurgen Klopp

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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    Bobby yes and Naby no, it appears. Spurs/Kane making noises about playing in the final. As I’ve said, the CL Final after 2 months out, is not the place to be proving your fitness. I think, remembering a half fit Lallana last season, I’d nearly prefer a ring rusty Kane than a fully fit Llorente, for instance.

    Granted Kane might do more against you in 5 minutes than Llorente in 90, but it’ll be to our advantage if Kane big dogs it into the Spurs side as Raul used to do at Real. As he won’t go the full 90 (or if he does, he’ll be sucking air through his arse for the last 25-30), it means, essentially, Spurs would be down to 2 subs, because one would have to be saved for Kane or he himself would be that 3rd sub.

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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    It just occurred to me that should we beat Spurs, we will play City for the Community Shield and Arsenal/Chelsea for the Euro Super Cup. All English opposition.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    42 years ago today, we won it for the first time.
    14 years ago today, we won it for the fifth time, and I said "FFS" when Riise's cross hit the first defender but luckily he got a second chance to make it right.
    Tony

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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    Read somewhere that we tried to arrange a friendly against AZ Alkmaar, but no joy with them or pretty much anyone else due to the season being done for most everyone.

    But we did play Benfica B, behind closed doors. Full 90. No injuries. 3-0, didn’t get scorers.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    A nice piece by Robertson himself speaking about the final amongst other things.

  9. #9
    Kop Hero RobR's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    A good piece of news for Tottenham today, apparently Pelé is healthy for the final. Johan Cruyff is a gametime decision.
    ‘How many mistakes are you allowed?’ Klopp asked the fourth official. ‘Because if it’s 15, you’ve got one left.’

  10. #10
    Kop Hero RobR's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champions League Final 2019

    Watching all the interviews with Liverpool players before the CL final reminded me of my three all-time favorite responses to inane press questions:

    1) The reporter asks Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, "How does it fell to be playing in the ultimate game?"

    Hollywood replies, "If it's the ultimate game, how come they're playing it again next year?"

    2) Hollywood is asked about opposing quarterback Terry Bradshaw

    Hollywood replies, "[He] couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the c and the a"

    3) On a press questionnaire for the NBA Finals one of the entries is "Church preference"

    Wayne "Tree" Rollins fills in this answer. "Red brick"
    ‘How many mistakes are you allowed?’ Klopp asked the fourth official. ‘Because if it’s 15, you’ve got one left.’

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