Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool both completed remarkable comebacks in the last four to earn the right to contest the 2019 UEFA Champions League final at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday, June 1.
Spurs went through on Wednesday by earning a 3-2 win away to Ajax thanks to a last-gap, hat-trick goal from Lucas Moura. His injury-time finish sent the Lilywhites through on away goals after Ajax had added to a 1-0 first-leg aggregate lead by going two goals in front by halftime in Amsterdam thanks to Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech.
Moura's three-goal star turn after the break came 24 hours after Liverpool overturned a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona by smashing 4-0 past the Blaugrana at Anfield on Tuesday.
Braces from Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi's have given the Reds a chance to go one better after slipping to defeat in last season's final, losing 3-1 to a Real Madrid side inspired by former Tottenham hero Gareth Bale.
- Date: Saturday, June 1
- Time: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET
- Venue: Wanda Metropolitano
Liverpool to Overpower Spurs and Win
The psychological edge belongs to the Reds after they beat Spurs twice in the Premier League. A scoreline of 2-1 on both occasions, at Wembley Stadium back in September and at Anfield in March, reflected how little there is to choose between the two familiar foes.
Similarities extend to the managers and the respective styles of play they preach. Liverpool chief Jurgen Klopp has built his success on intense pressing, while Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino also demands his players maintain pressure on the ball.
Each team is also defined by awesome pace in attack, with Moura and Heung-Min Son deadly for Spurs, while Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah lead the line for Liverpool.
Salah missed the second leg against Barcelona with a concussion, while fellow striker Roberto Firmino sat out with a groin problem, according to Andy Hunter of the Guardian.
Liverpool will count on the fitness of both for the final, particularly Firmino, who scored against the Lilywhites in both league games this season.
With a fully fit forward line, along with the energy and tenacity in midfield to deny Spurs schemers Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen time on the ball, Liverpool boast the personnel to win this final by yet another 2-1 scoreline.
Tottenham Will Bring Back Harry Kane, and It Will be a Mistake
Spurs' run to the final, past both Manchester City and Ajax, who dispatched holders Real Madrid and touted Juventus in earlier rounds, was achieved without star striker Harry Kane.
Rather, Tottenham have made it though because their regular focal point has been unable to play because of an ankle injury. While a world-class finisher, Kane makes Tottenham more predictable, since possession is naturally funnelled his way.
Before the fightback in Amsterdam, Kane told former Spurs midfielder turned BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas (h/t Football.London's Rob Guest and Paul Clarke) he will be back for June: "He basically said to me that he will be fit for the [Champions League] final. But I think we all knew that no matter what if Spurs were to get to any type of final he would be playing."
Yet Pochettino should think twice about bringing Kane back into the starting XI. Spurs are tougher to defend when Moura is making runs from out to in alongside Son roaming the final third, moving from the left, through the middle and dropping off the front.
Their pace and perceptive movement destroyed Borussia Dortmund, City and Ajax en route to the Spanish capital. Said pace will be Tottenham's greatest asset against a Liverpool side playing a high defensive line.
Leaving space in behind is the risk the Reds are willing to take to make their pressing game work. Spurs can exploit it by going long and over the top to Son and Moura in the inside channels.
It's understandable for Pochettino to want to trust Kane with the same task, since the England international has netted 23 goals in all competitions this season, including five in Europe.
Yet restoring Kane from the start will slow the pace of Tottenham's attack just enough to play into Liverpool's hands.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool