OPPONENTS Liverpool at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid
COMPETITION Champions League  Final
DATE Saturday 1st June 2019
PREVIEW I never thought I would see Spurs in the Champions League in my lifetime and now, here we are in the final against Liverpool.  Whether playing another English team is good or bad, it is all a bit irrelevant, as they are the ones we have to face and be up for it, with the biggest European prize to play for.  There are few games that players might look forward to more and the journey to get this far has been a rollercoaster ride of initial despair and then elation with last minute drama against Manchester City and Ajax.

The achievement in reaching the final should not be under-estimated, but getting there, we are so close to winning a trophy.  Liverpool stand in the way and the preview is not one I am going into in any depth, as we all know what they are about.  Big money signings in goal, in the centre of defence and up front have ensured that they were challenging for the Premier League title up to the final day.  With players like Milner, Robertson and Firmino around the spine of the side, they can be a daunting prospect when on form.   Which they were for the bulk of the season, but like Spurs in the last few seasons, they came up against one exceptional team who couldn't be bested.

Now it is our turn to show that we can be that team in a one-off Cup tie and having had a three week break has given Spurs the opportunity to get players fit again, with Kane, Vertonghen and Winks all back in the fold.  However, last time we had a three week gap in the programme after being knocked out of the FA Cup and with an international break, we were pretty poor after that.  Hopefully, this time, with no games after (other than those internationals in the Nations League), the players can give it everything.

We know that Liverpool will be pressing high on our back line to prevent us playing the ball out.  It may be that we have to mix things up to try and shake them off, but moving the ball quickly could be the key, without being panicked into giving the ball away.  They will look to hit Mane early with his pace to test the defence and get balls across the face of goal for Salah and Firmino to feed on.  Much talk has centred around the return of Harry Kane and whether he should play.  The last few games have seen him bullied by van Dijk and whereas he had the measure of Lovren, the physicality of the Dutchman has seen Harry kept quiet.  Would Llorente be more of a presence to disrupt the Liverpool defender's aerial dominance ?  Would Son and Moura be better in using their pace and keeping the ball on the floor to test the Reds' central defence ?  With Moura's hat-trick in the semi-final second leg, it would be tough to leave him out.  But that is what Pochettino is paid for to make the tough decisions.

The continued speculation around Pochettino, Alderweireld, Rose and Eriksen have made this a win or bust game, as the progress made must continue, but in what form ?  Toby is making sounds like he wants to stay and run down his contract, while Poch has mildly hinted he may go if we win and Christian hasn't really said much about whether he will stay nor go.  Danny Rose's situation is an odd one, as he is playing as well as ever, with the bonus of him playing in midfield too, but if they want to bring in Ryan Sessignon, then something has to give.   To be so close to achieving something this much ahead of schedule surely needs the bulk of the squad to stay together.  With a few additions, things could look even more promising and Dabiel Levy looks lik ehe is ready to spend the windfall cash we have come by this season and that the new stadium will bring in.

The game is on a knife-edge really.  Liverpool are favourites after losing last season in the final and having overcome Barcelona 4-0 in the second leg of the semi-final to over-turn a 0-3 defeat.  They have spent a lot of money on their squad and we haven't, but the side have been together for a couple of seasons now, so should understand the way we play and that could be a strength, as well as the resilience Pochettino has instilled in them.  We are up against it having lost twice to Liverpool this season in the Premier League.  At Wembley they should have beaten us comprehensively, but we almost grabbed a draw.  At Anfield we could easily have got more from that game than a defeat.

Hopefully, the sun will shine on us in Spain.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2        Liverpool   1
Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Jan Vertonghen and are all fit to play in the final.
Liverpool TEAM NEWS :
Naby Keita will not be able to play in the final due to injury.


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TalkSport (DAB or 1089 MW)

Champions League Final Kick off 20:00 (UK time); 21.00 (local time)
Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0) Liverpool  2 (1)




Salah (p)  01m 47s
Origi  86m 53s





Crowd :  63,272 Weather :  Dry, hot
Referee :  Damir Skomina (SVN) Assistant Referees :  Jure Praprotnik (SVN); Robert Vukan (SVN)
Fourth Official :  Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP) VAR Assistant Referee :  Danny Makkelie (NED)
UEFA Delegate :  Alan McRae (SCO)  
Liverpool kicked off and played towards the North Stand in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 9 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Liverpool : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kieran TRIPPIER
  3  Danny ROSE

  8  Harry WINKS
17  Moussa SISSOKO

23  Christian ERIKSEN
20  DELE Alli 
  7  Heung-Min SON

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM

41  Alfie WHITEMAN
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
11  Erik LAMELA
  Victor WANYAMA
18  Fernando LLORENTE
21  Juan FOYTH
27  Lucas MOURA
33  Ben DAVIES
  George MARSH
  Oliver SKIPP


32  Joel MATIP
  4  Virgil van DIJK
26  Andrew ROBERTSON

14  Jordan HENDERSON (c)
  5  Georginio WIJANLDUM  (  7  James MILNER  62)

11  Mohamed SALAH 
  9  Roberto FIRMINO  (27  Divock ORIGI  58  )
10  Sadio MANE  (12
  Joe GOMEZ  89)

Unused subs: 
22  Simon MIGNOLET
62  Caimohin KELLEHER
  6  Dejan LOVREN
15  Daniel STURRIDGE
18  Alberto MORENO
20  Adam LALLANA
23  Xherdan SHAQIRI
24  Rhian BREWSTER


Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Jurgen Klopp
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Chartered Standard
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   New Balance
Match report

The game that we have waited for for many years ended within seconds of starting, with the referee being the game-changer, not one of the players, as Liverpool scored two minutes in and then three minutes from the end to win the match.

Arriving in Madrid the night before, everywhere you went was red. Even the flight from Gatwick was full of them, so where were all their tickets coming from ? We were to find out later.

The day of the game was hot. Really hot. Getting to the ground was uncomfortable in the Metro, with Spurs fans in good spirits. We saw Stephen Mangan enjoying a beer outside a bar near the ground, with Spurs players mixing with fans inside. Getting inside was more of a challenge. The usual heavy handed policing combined with lack of signage about where to go lead to confusion and frustration. Some Police were friendly, helpful and smiley, while others looked spoiling for a fight, as we found in Barcelona. The use of police horses to regulate the flow of fans through the never-ending journey to the turnstiles saw young children frightened and crying and older supporters separated from their family or friends as they were left bewildered by the authoritarian approach. When will they learn that a more fan-friendly approach will diffuse the tension that these methods cause.

Once inside, the frustration didn’t end, as there was an hour’s queue for drinks and then, there was a limited choice when you reached the sales point. For a new stadium, the facilities were a little shocking and basic. Thanks goodness we didn’t go on this model for our new ground.

The atmosphere got even hotter when UEFA’s opening ceremony helped destroy a bit more of the ozone layer with flames and fireworks as the temperature inside the stadium visibly rose, with the heat haze causing it to be trapped inside the ground, with it being hot enough already. There were also a visibly larger amount of red shirts around the ground than white. The whole tier behind the Spurs goal reserved for corporate ticket holders were occupied by red shirted supporters. And this didn’t help things as the game progressed. For an organisation who are so keen to keep fans segregated, it is interesting that this goes out of the window when there is money involved and some fans were allowed to be amongst the opposition’s supporters. UEFA are an organisation who feel they need to make statements about things by handing out fines to clubs, but there is little internal examination and it looks as though the disciplinary actions are only another way of funding the excesses they allow their executives.

Anyway, when the game got underway, 21 seconds was all it took for it to be over. From Liverpool’s kick off, Spurs headed the ball up to halfway. Kane was thrown out of the way by van Dijk, a couple of headers were won by red shirts and a long ball forward found Mane beyond Trippier. Sissoko got back and held up the winger, but the ball was played into the box and Moussa was indicating to team-mates to cover, when the ball hit his chest and then came up onto his arm and the referee pointed to the spot. Maybe it is the UEFA interpretation of what handball is, but VAR confirmed it and Spurs were put on the spot almost before the game had started. With this sort of decision, I think players will be breaking all sorts of scoring records if they are their club’s penalty taker in the coming seasons. A showpiece final then turned into anything but, with one decision.

Salah had to wait for VAR before taking the spot-kick that he thrashed with great power past Lloris, despite the goalkeeper not being too far away from it. The Egyptian’s goal celebration was right in front of the Spurs fans and was unnecessary and offensive, but he was allowed to get away with it.

It was a massive blow and one that Spurs took a while to get over. They played the ball around, but often were playing passes too quickly and not finding their targets. Sissoko tried to redeem himself when Matip half-cleared a pass inside the box, but his shot from outside the box predictably rise over the bar.

The opponents dropped back, with the intention of hitting Spurs on the break or trying to capitalise on a set-piece. Mane tried to get away on their left again, but this time Trippier got back to nick the ball off him for a corner. This is when the time-wasting started. Ten minutes in, as it took forever for a player to cross the pitch to take it. When he did, van Dijk stood on Lloris to try and disrupt the keeper’s across to the ball, but Hugo got something on it to take it away from the red shirts.

The way Spurs settled was better and they looked to move the ball forward quicker and a couple of breaks were stopped by Liverpool legs stuck out in hope more than intention. Rose made a fine header at the far post to stop Salah reaching Robertson’s left wing cross and then As the ball was cleared away, the Scot threw a hand into Trippier’s face as they chased the ball and the ref spoke to the Liverpool defender, but did nothing more. Henderson had been giving Pochettino a mouthful, so the referee came over to the Spurs boss to do the same, as you got the feeling that most of the major decisions were going to go the other way.

Alexander-Armold flashed a shot across Lloris’ goal with 17 minutes gone, missing the post by a yard and Salah slashed a shot inside the box off for a throw-in, as the Reds failed to play their so called exciting, attacking football. Spurs were controlling the play without creating too much at the Liverpool end, with neither side doing particularly well in finding their targets with their passing. One through pass to Son found him offside, then Sissoko’s pass for the Korean was intercepted, otherwise he would have been through in the box. Dele got into the box, with Kane inside him, but there were two red shirts in the way.

It was nearly 38 minutes before Lloris had to make a save, with Robertson driving a shot in from outside the box, but Hugo tipped it over the bnar, reaching up with his left hand. From the corner, Salah struck a volley into the upper tiers of the Spurs end.

The ball was falling for LIverpool and when they went forward with Alexander-Arnold crossing the ball in, stopped by Danny Rose’s face for a corner, but they wanted a penalty. From the set-piece, Salah volleyed at goal and the deflection on it earned them another corner. It was at these that Liverpool were killing the game by taking so much time on taking them and also winning free-kicks by going down easy, while Kane was wrestled off ball, he was given nothing.

As the game came to added time, Son and Dele linked to find Eriksen on the edge of the D, but his shot flew way too high. That was the last act of the first half, with Liverpool coming out late for the second half to delay things further. Spurs had lots of possession, but they did not do too much with it, but early in the second half, Tripper’s deep cross found Dele at the far post, but he couldn’t get enough on it to take it back into the middle of the box. Then Kane took a long ball and pulled it back, but too far away from Son, who was in space in the area.

Matip and van Dijk were winning the high balls forward, with Spurs being made to play that way as Liverpool closed them down, but, still, the Merseysiders were looking to sit deep, fill the spaces and stifle the game. Winks was playing a very good game of making the team tick in midfield, while Vertonghen was defending well, not diving in on Salah in the box, but standing up to block his shot. Lloris was alert when Robertson’s low cross came in, bouncing just in front of him, but holding at as Salah looked to seize on it. The game looked as though it might open up, with Dele finding space in the box before his shot was blocked by Alexander-Arnold.

Rose went inside from the left wing and Alexander-Arnold hung out a leg designed to bring him down, but the ref played on when there was little advantage to Tottenham, with one player taken out and hordes of red shirts back in their box. Needless to say, the move came to nothing. A couple of corners were won by Spurs, but the first was fisted away by the keeper and the second headed over beyond the far post by Jan.

The balls played forward to Kane made things simple for van Dijk and our crossing into the box was not accurate enough, which was frustrating, as Liverpool were not too threatening and could have been there for the taking. The first half saw Spurs off their game, with a lack of understanding of where players were going to run, but the second half was a little better, but still not the fluid Tottenham we have seen.

Salah was still throwing himself to the ground, while when Kane was, he got nothing and then had a free-kick given against him for the same offence. Liverpool had taken a couple of players off before Pochettino took Harry Winks off to bring Moura on. One of Liverpool’s subs had a chance with the ball worked up the right wing to Milner centrally outside the box, but he pulled his shot a foot wide with Lloris rooted to the spot.

With 20 minutes left, the ball came in from Tottenham’s left and Matip was in the way, with the ball hitting him on the hand the Spurs fans claimed, but there was no decision given. But Spurs continued to go forward. Trippier crossed low from the right, but nobody was on hand in the middle to meet it. The ball ran through to Rose, who knocked it back in to the far post, where it was too high for Moura to volley. Still Tottenham had the ball and Trippier crossed in again, but this time straight into Allison’s arms. Kieran seemed to pull a hamstring, as he couldn’t get back when Liverpool broke away, but Sissoko covered and put Mane off enough that Toby could stop his run into the box from the edge of the area.

A god passing movement ended with Dele trying to loft the ball over the keeper from inside the box, but Son’s pass to him was slightly behind him and caught him on his heels. Sonny then ran at the Liverpool defence when they opened up their midfield, but van Dijk got a foot in for a corner. Toby tried to find Dele with a diagonal pass, but Allison was come out to the edge of his box to claim it. Whether it was the heat of the occasion, but Tottenham’s movement off the ball was not as fluent as usual and Liverpool’s players were happy to sit in, but Spurs worked the ball right and Trippier’s cross found Dele’s head, but his effort went over, although it might have been given as a foul on Matip anyway.

Spurs were looking for the goal that would see them back in the game and Son’ shot from 25 yards brought a low save from Allison, diving to his right. The ball went to the side of the box, where Rose won a tackle, taking the ball back into the area, where Moura took a touch and poked a shot at goal that the keeper held to his left on the ground. Son then nut-megged Fabinho, but couldn’t get any power behind his left foot effort from outside the box.

With eight minutes left, Milner’s rash foul on Rose brought a VAR review, but it was outside the box on the left hand corner of the area. Eriksen lined it up and struck it to the far post, where Allison dived upwards to push the ball away. From the corner, the ball was played in by Trippier, with all the defender missing the ball and it coming to Moura, who scuffed his shot and Son headed it over from almost a yard out. He was offside. So it wouldn’t have counted and then Danny Rose was defending well at the other end, as Salah looked to sneak in behind him. From it, the ball wasn’t cleared, but the ball was bundled into the path of Origi to the left, from where he struck a low shot across Lloris to make it 2-0 with three minutes left.

Rose put in a low right foot shot from 20 yards that didn’t have the power to trouble Allison two minutes into added time and then Son brought a flying save from the keeper a minute later, with a shot may have crept inside the keeper’s left hand post. Kane then hit the ball straight at the keeper’s stomach from the left and that was the last chance Spurs had.

They had given a good account of themselves after going behind so early, but there was not the cutting edge that saw them create chances, but not any that truly tested the Liverpool defence. The game can’t have been great to watch for a neutral, with Liverpool happy to hang onto the goal lead handed to them by the referee’s handball decision, but they were looking to break on Spurs, but failed to do that very effectively.
It was a shame, as there was only one team looking to play and the record books will show a Liverpool win, but the nature of it shows the weakness of the referee, who consistently spoke to Liverpool players about time-wasting, but did nothing about it. It made Spurs have to hurry their game and that caused misplaced passes and anxious shooting.

The performance made the result a little easier to bear, but you felt that one goal could have changed the game dramatically. Having sat in, Liverpool, as Ajax did in the semi-final, might have found it hard to then change to find a winner. In the end, the opportunist second goal settled it and our first experience of a Champions League final was a disappointing one.

The broken down train at the allocated station Spurs fans were going back to didn’t help getting away from the stadium and the less than helpful Police there meant that you had to, somehow, find a way back to the city centre. Getting to bed at 01.00, when I had to get up at 05.00 for my flight home also made the exit from Madrid a tiring experience. But I was glad I was there. We out-sang the Reds, who outnumbered us. They were convinced they were going to win before the game, so it would have been nice to send them home disappointed, but shocked by the penalty, our first half performance was better by the second and maybe, they will learn things from this match. The players were lining up to watch Liverpool collect the trophy as I left the ground. I didn’t want to see that, but maybe turning that hurt into a winning mentality could benefit the squad. Whoever is left next season.

Arriving back at Gatwick, I spoke to one Liverpool fan, who agreed we had been the better side, but he assured me that we would be back in the final with the players and manager we have. I am not so sure it will be next season, as big changes will happen in the summer, but one day I hope to be back watching Spurs in a CL final and playing as we can to give it a real go.

Marco van Hip

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