Champions League Final: Here’s What To Expect From The Match Tonight

That day is upon us!

The day every year when the most highly anticipated game in the most prestigious competition of the most popular sport in the world is played. The trophy of the UEFA Champions League is arguably the most coveted prize in professional club football, as it features the best clubs in Europe and also the very best footballers on the planet.

The path to the final is long, hard and unique, and the teams facing off in the final this year are no strangers to adversity. As recently as the semi-finals, Liverpool overcame titanic odds in upsetting the then tournament favourites, Barcelona. Trailing 3-0 after a Lionel Messi masterclass in the first leg at the Nou Camp, Liverpool handed out an absolute shellacking at Anfield, beating Barcelona 4-0 and progressing to the final. The nature of the win, which is undoubtedly one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history, along with the blistering season which Liverpool have had in finishing second in the Premier League, has led many to expect that Liverpool is set to add a sixth Champions League crown to their trophy cabinet. Notably, Liverpool had progressed to the finals last year as well but lost out to Real Madrid in an ill-tempered clash.

Meanwhile, their opponents in the final have had a few memorable nights of their own in this season’s Champions League. Tottenham Hotspur is making their very first appearance in a Champions League final and has established a reputation as plucky underdogs. Trailing 0-1 after the first leg against a youthful and exuberant Ajax in their semi-final, Tottenham found themselves 0-2 down away from home at half time in the second leg, with their chances of progressing all but written off. However, Tottenham mounted a remarkable comeback of their own through some clinical finishing by Brazilian forward Lucas Moura, who scored a hat-trick in the second half, the last of which was a last-gasp winner with mere seconds left on the clock.

Both teams are nearly at full strength, with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp only missing midfielder Naby Keita. Much of Liverpool’s hopes rest on the shoulders of their fearsome attacking trident of Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino, as well as the gigantic Virgil Van Dijk in defence.

Meanwhile, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is remaining coy about the role, if any, that star forward Harry Kane will play in the finals. Nonetheless, Spurs have an impressive squad to work with, with the likes of Heung-Min Son, Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris having had a profitable season of their own to enable Tottenham to finish third in the Premier League table.

In a tweak to the rules this year, the managers are able to name up to 12 substitutes on the bench to choose from, which should give them a much greater say in exerting real-time influence over the course of what is billed to be a mouthwatering final.

This is the first time since Manchester United and Chelsea in the year 2008 that two English teams are meeting in the final of the Champions League, which is being held at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid. It shall not disappoint.

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