Tottenham Hotspur players shared a special moment with their families ahead of what could be the biggest game of their lives on Saturday.
Stars Harry Kane and Kieran Trippier were spotted sharing a smooch with their other halves at the Wanda stadium in Madrid, Spain, after a training session, while doting fathers Fernando Llorente and Toby Alderweireld played with their children.
The team, which has never competed in a Champions League final, is playing against five-time European title winners Liverpool FC – which got to the 2018 final before losing 3 – 1 to Real Madrid.
Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino said today, after his team eliminated Ajax 3 – 2 in the semifinals, that it is now up to the players to go out there and make history.
Tottenham star Fernando Llorente greets family members at his team’s training session at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid, Spain. Tottenham Hotspur will face Liverpool FC in the 2019 UEFA Champions League tomorrow
Harry Kane shares a romantic moment with his fiance Katie Goodland at the Wanda stadium in Madrid, Spain
Husband Kieran Trippier shares a kiss with his other half, Charlotte, as their child Jacob poses for the camera with a football
Doting father Toby Alderweireld, of Tottenham Hotspur, pictured with family members after the team’s training session
Pochettino believes his team have been stress-tested during a campaign littered with complications; from the World Cup, injuries and the transfer market to delays with the new stadium.
‘All those difficulties have made us stronger as a group, more creative and we have shown if you believe and work hard in football you are rewarded,’ he said.
‘The moment you get to the final, it’s about winning the final,’ he said. ‘We trust in ourselves.’
The north London club, which hasn’t won an English title since the 1960s, made a remarkable run to its first Champions League final after it beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the quarterfinals and romping past Ajax in the semi-final.
Liverpool, one of Europe’s most successful clubs, also needed some heroics to return to the final, reversing a 3-0 first-leg defeat against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in the semifinals.
Harry Kane shares a kiss with fiance Katie Goodland after a Tottenham Hotspur training session on the eve of the Champions League final. Liverpool FC, who they are competing against, got to the final last year
Caring family man Fernando Llorente sorts out the hair of a family member following his teams’ training session
Doting father Toby Alderweireld, of Tottenham Hotspur, pictured with family members after the team’s training session
Coming back from a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in last year’s Kiev final, manager Klopp said his team had made all the necessary adjustments to be able to win its first European title since 2005.
‘We are much more mature. It’s a good thing we are getting older, from all points of view,’ said Klopp, who also lost a Champions League final while coaching Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
‘We are a year older, we have players like Trent (Alexander-Arnold) who has 50 games more in his legs, he has more experience in football.’
Klopp said there was not much the team can take from the actual final last year. It was a different opponent and different circumstances, but it gave the squad a mental edge going into this year’s match.
‘The boys performed in that final, it was not like we had no chance,’ Klopp said.
‘(We played against) a clear favorite, so that was OK, that helped us as well. But last year we were surprised about ourselves a little bit that we were in the final. We weren’t as consistent as we are now. That was the main thing that we had to develop.’
Klopp is set to have Mohamed Salah available for Saturday’s match after he missed the second leg of the semifinals because of a concussion. The Egyptian forward had to leave last year’s final in the first half because of a shoulder injury.
Toby Alderweireld plays with his family before the training session before the UEFA Champions League final
Harry Kane and Katie Goodland at the training session the day before the Champions League final against Liverpool FC
Fernando Llorente smiles with family members after a training session at the Wanda stadium in Madrid, Spain
Tottenham are due to face Liverpool FC in the final tomorrow. Liverpool were defeated when they got to the final last year
A final with no villains: It’s a final full of good guys but Jurgen Klopp knows this is his moment
By Martin Samuel – Sport for the Daily Mail
So what if, at High Noon, there was no bad guy? Two heroes, no villains. There still has to be a shootout, there still has to be a victor, there still has to be a smoking gun and a body carried off to Boot Hill.
What if the townsfolk, the trembling bystanders, could see both sides as the clock ticked towards a fateful destiny and facing Gary Cooper, was not some black-hatted, vicious, murderous outlaw, but a decent man, just like him. Rather spoils the script, doesn’t it?
Welcome to Madrid. Welcome to the 2019 Champions League final.
The Champions League final in Madrid sees two teams, without villains, compete for glory
Both Jurgen Klopp (left) and Mauricio Pochettino (right) are popular managers for neutrals
Seriously, where is Sergio Ramos when you need him? Where are the petrodollars, or Russian oligarchs, or that gentleman from Juventus who thinks just because he inherited the family business, his football club should get to inherit all of football’s power, prestige and resources forevermore, too?
Plainly, the followers of Tottenham and Liverpool have a preference.
Almost certainly, the embittered devotees of Manchester United, Everton and Arsenal will pick sides too. Yet the rest of us, the majority who will watch on Saturday night without skin in this game, will experience the strangest sensation: an absence of partisan emotion, maybe the odd sloppy grin.
Not born of apathy, for that is very different. Everyone is looking forward to this occasion, everyone is excited by the possibilities. But they are not angry about it. They are not wound up. They genuinely want the best team to win. And they like both teams.
They like both managers. They like both groups of players. They seem a hard-working lot. Not too many superstars. Andy Robertson, Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson, Harry Winks, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Son Heung-min, Danny Rose, Mo Salah. Players that have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps. And they play good football, too, all of them.
They deserve this – both sides. But we know there cannot be an entirely happy ending. At the conclusion, one of the teams will have to hear that crass chorus of ‘no time for losers’, and know it is sneering at them. It is going to be very hard to take.
For Jurgen Klopp, and Liverpool, in particular if things do not go their way. His list of disappointments in finals can be overplayed, but it is impossible to ignore that 26 points separated these teams in the league this season, no matter the closeness of their encounters, head-to-head.
This is a game Klopp should win, which is what sets it apart from his previous showdowns.
Klopp has lost his last six finals, across two countries and a continent. He has lost three with Borussia Dortmund, and three with Liverpool. He has lost two Champions League finals, the Europa League final, two German Cups and the League Cup.
Klopp will know that despite close encounters with Tottenham, Liverpool should win the game
Yet, in his defence, he was always the underdog. Had Dortmund overcome a Bayern Munich team at its peak, domestically or in the Champions League final, it would have been an exceptional achievement.
The same when Liverpool faced Manchester City, four months after Klopp took charge from Brendan Rodgers, or when he took on a Sevilla team going for its third straight Europa League title, or Real Madrid aiming for the same in the Champions League. Even in the German Cup final in 2015 when he met Wolfsburg, his opponents were Bundesliga runners-up.
These were all games in which Klopp needed to overcome the odds. Despite his protestations – and what manager does not try to lift pressure from his team – it is different on Saturday. Liverpool are favourites. Klopp has played Tottenham nine times since coming to England and lost once.
Four wins and four draws, including all six points this season, suggest he has the edge. Lose and the stigma of missed opportunity will be hard to avoid. Klopp knows it, knows what will be said if he remains without a trophy as Liverpool manager. He knows what is being said now.
‘I see where this is going,’ he murmured, when asked what he had learned from previous negative final experiences. ‘Look, if I was the reason for losing six finals in a row, then everyone needs to worry – but if that’s not the case, then we have a chance.
‘What did I learn from last year? That a bicycle kick from 18 metres can be a goal. From the other finals, nothing really. The circumstances are always different. We had three strange goals against Madrid a year ago: the goal of the season and two others that we don’t usually concede.
‘But we’ve learned a lot in three years together – not from just one game. We’re much more mature, we have players like Trent Alexander-Arnold experiencing different situations, with 50 more games in his legs. We were surprised to be in the final a year ago, because we weren’t as consistent as we are now — but our speed, our technical skills, they are all still there from last year.’
It was when Klopp was asked to consider whether a manager could have an unlucky career that he became most animated. ‘Do you think I have an unlucky career?’ he echoed. ‘For sure, I don’t have an unlucky career. My missus always asks when is the last game of the season because there is a chance if there is a final I will be involved.
‘Since 2012, apart from 2017 I have been every year in a final – I am probably the world record holder in winning semi-finals. If I would write a book about doing that, well, probably no one would buy it. But I am a normal human being, so if I sit down in a room and think it’s all about me, I’m the reason we have lost finals, then I would see myself as a loser and that would be a problem. The rest, all of that about winning and losing, is for the outside world. If we win, you will think afterwards that I am a winner.
‘But that’s not interesting to me. I see all the other things, the things that happened before, the things that happened to get here, and I take confidence from that. And before I went to these finals I won all these little things that people don’t think are interesting anymore, like promotion with Mainz.
Pochettino’s team will hope they have not used up all their good fortune en route to the final
‘We won those games, we won a lot of games, in the Champions League, too. So, yes, in finals there are moments that are lucky and unlucky, and in the last two Champions League finals I’ve not been on the lucky side, that’s true.
‘But how I understand luck is that if you work for it, you have it sometimes. Not always. But it’s not an unlucky career. I’m fine, could have been better, could have been worse. And it’s not over yet, so there’s time.’
Mauricio Pochettino arguably has the opposite problem, hoping that en route to Madrid his Tottenham side did not use every available drop of good fortune, crossing the path of every black cat to reach here.
Not that Spurs are purely lucky finalists – they are a good side – more that crucial late goals against PSV Eindhoven, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Ajax, not to mention the one conceded to City that was ruled out by the tiniest of margins — represent a sequence unlikely to be repeated.
‘When you start pre-season, to think you will be here in 10 months is unbelievable,’ Pochettino said. ‘To arrive, that is the most difficult thing. Then you have to trust that the universe goes right and you win the trophy. So when I see this is Jurgen Klopp’s third final, chapeau. The journey is the most important, the most difficult thing. And he is always optimistic.’
Earlier, Klopp had described Pochettino sincerely as ‘a nice fella’. He talked of a positive final between two ‘proper football teams’. ‘It’ll be a proper game I’m sure,’ he added. ‘It’s a real football final and now we both have to deal with that because it’s very intense.’
Indeed it is. But so was High Noon. At least when Hollywood wrote the scripts you knew who to root for, and who the hero was. Pick the bones out of this one.
MARTIN KEOWN’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL PREVIEW: Liverpool’s high press is a deadly weapon… Key for Tottenham is to beat it
By Martin Keown for the Daily Mail
In September 2016, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: ‘No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter-pressing situation.’
That is his philosophy, and that is what Tottenham must try to beat. Liverpool like to win the ball back high up the pitch then attack at speed, using the bodies they leave in advanced positions.
We saw that against Barcelona at Anfield in the semi-final second leg. Trent Alexander-Arnold won possession on the right wing then less than six seconds later, Liverpool had a goal — as our graphic on the right shows.
Jurgen Klopp’s counter-pressing philosophy is what Tottenham must beat on Saturday
Fastest players in the CL this season
21.43mph: Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool (v Barcelona)
21.37mph: Leroy Sane, Man City (v Hoffenheim)
21.25mph: Nemanja Radonjic, Red Star Belgrade (v Red Bull Salzburg)
En route to this final, Klopp’s men averaged 2.59 passes in the space of 8.01 seconds when scoring, whereas the average for the competition is 3.91 passes per goal over 12.56 seconds.
They suffocate their opponents. In midfield, Fabinho will mostly sit but whoever plays beside him will join the front three in their press.
In the Champions League this season, Ajax won possession 86 times in the final third — the most in Europe’s elite competition. Behind them are Liverpool on 70, then Manchester City on 61. Tottenham got the better of City over two legs in the quarter-finals, then beat Ajax in the semi-finals.
Now, they have to do the same against Liverpool if they are to cap a remarkable season.
Virgil van Dijk is a greyhound. No player in the Champions League has clocked a faster speed than him this season, so he has the legs to cope with balls over the top.
However, it is important to remember he is just one man. He cannot control the entire backline.
He needs help, and I wonder whether Klopp might be tempted to rekindle Van Dijk’s partnership with the fast-paced Joe Gomez. That might seem harsh on Joel Matip but these top-level managers are ruthless. Klopp will do what he sees fit.
Virgil van Dijk clocked the fastest speed of any player in the Champions League this season
The Kane Conundrum
The Champions League semi-finals showed us how it is not purely about the players and whether they perform well on the night. Tactics play a major part. Mauricio Pochettino got his wrong against Ajax in the first leg. Then he rectified that in the second leg.
You don’t get two chances in a final so he has to get it right. The big question is, does he start Harry Kane? I think he does. Kane is their king. He leads from the front and everyone else follows.
Lucas Moura was magnificent against Ajax but it might be that he misses out. Ruthless decisions have to be made.
Mauricio Pochettino faces a tough decision as to whether he should start Harry Kane
Liverpool’s full backs are probably the best in Europe. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are used as weapons by Klopp. When you look at modern-day full backs, they’re wingers who defend, and that’s what these two do.
They work hard and they press high, as per the Klopp system. The danger of that is they leave holes behind them. That is what Tottenham must try to exploit.
Moura is a speedster, as is Son Heung-min, and Dele Alli is no slouch either. If Spurs can cope with their opponents closing them down and knock balls into those empty spaces, then they could have joy in Madrid.
That will test the pace of Liverpool’s central defenders who will have to cover for their full backs.
Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are probably the best full-backs in Europe
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