Europe’s biggest soccer game of the year is on tap for Saturday in Madrid. Of course, it’ll be played between two English teams, as Tottenham Hotspur faces Liverpool. The line is tight with Liverpool at -116 to win compared to Tottenham at +305.
Frankly, both teams are a little lucky to be here. Tottenham had just one point midway through the group stage, pulling a rabbit out of their hat just to advance. Spurs then needed great fortune late in both the quarterfinals and semi-finals to stay alive. Nevertheless, they have made it to the final and will be confident that they can overcome any obstacle, even if they fall behind early.
Liverpool was also a little sluggish early in the competition and needed a favorable result on the last day of the group stage to advance to the knockout stage. The Reds then erased a 3-0 deficit in the second leg of the semi-final against Barcelona, pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history to reach the final. After coming up second in the Premier League season, the Reds may look at this season as a disappointment if it ends without collecting a trophy
Getting the Band Back Together
The Champions League final will likely mean the Liverpool attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Robert Firmino will be back together. Firmino missed the end of the Premier League season due to an injury, and both he and Salah missed the second leg of the semi-finals against Barcelona. However, Salah returned in time for the Premier League finale and Firmino looks as if he’ll return this weekend as well.
Together, those three make up arguably the most dynamic attack in the world. Mane and Salah made up two-thirds of the players who shared the Premier League Golden Boot this season. On his day, Firmino can be just as dangerous as a goal scorer. Tottenham has a strong defense and a world-class goalie in Hugo Lloris who can look unbeatable on his best day. However, when the trio of Salah, Mane, and Firmino is clicking, it can be impossible to prevent them from putting the ball in the back of the net.
Is He Back?
For Spurs, much of the lead up to Saturday’s game has revolved around the health of striker Harry Kane. He missed the end of the Premier League season and the last three Champions League matches due to injury. It seems likely that Kane will be able to return to face Liverpool, although whether he starts or not and how many minutes he can play remain to be seen. But his mere presence should give Tottenham a lift.
Of course, putting Kane back in the starting lineup could be risky. Lucas Moura was the hero with a hat trick in the second leg of the semi-finals while Son Heung-min is easily the team’s best goalscorer outside of Kane. Midfielders Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli are also automatic starters. However, one of the four might need to be dropped to fit Kane into the starting lineup. That group was good enough to get Tottenham to this point and it could be risky to change that now The last time Kane returned from injury, Spurs went on a losing streak. They may be better off bringing him off the bench if needed late in the game.
The Safe Bet
Even if Kane returns, Liverpool has a more dynamic attacking unit, not to mention a deeper and more reliable midfield. They also had the second-best defensive record in the Premier League this season, so they can win a 1-0 game if they have to. After the season they’ve had, the Reds deserve to win a trophy and it would be unjust if they didn’t get one. When you go to wager on this; make sure you check out one of our favorite pay per head books at www.A1PPH.com. Bet on Liverpool to win the Champions League final.