Liverpool vs. Tottenham: Top Story Lines
Liverpool, which lost to Real Madrid in last year’s final, is seeking its sixth Champions League title. It last won the trophy in 2005, adding it to titles claimed in 1977, ’78, ’81 and ’84. (The games were less commercial but absolutely no less festive back then; see below.)
Liverpool also has lost three European Cup finals, in 1985, 2007 and last year’s in Kiev against Real Madrid.
Tottenham is playing in the Champions League final for the first time. Its most recent European trophy was the 1984 UEFA Cup, won when it beat Anderlecht.
This is the first all-Premier League final since Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties in Moscow in 2008.
That matchup was more than a decade ago, but single-country finals are no longer rare: the Spanish city rivals Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid have met in two recent finals (2014 and 2016), and Liverpool’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, was the coach at Dortmund when it fell to Bayern Munich in the 2013 final at Wembley.
Here are the latest developments:
Will the three-week layoff since the end of the Premier League season affect the teams?
Rory went to Spain’s Costa del Sol — yes, tough duty, but he was surprisingly amenable to the request; go figure — to find out. Here’s a little of what he discovered:
“Some Liverpool players found it was in the evening when their minds tended to wander. It was then, once the children were in bed or training was done, that their thoughts would drift to the Champions League: back to Kiev, forward to Madrid, lingering on what might have been, and what could yet be.
Others were caught when they were most vulnerable: as they went to sleep, or as they woke up, those moments either side of consciousness, when you cannot help yourself. For them, as one member of Jürgen Klopp’s squad put it, Saturday’s final against Tottenham has been ‘the last thing you think about at night and the first thing you think about in the morning.’”
Read his full piece here.
Would Tottenham’s Son Heung-min be a bigger star if he wasn’t Korean?
It’s an interesting question, and Rory explored the idea a bit the other day. For years, clubs looked to Asia for players who could move shirts, attract sponsors or offer valuable, high-workrate minutes. But stereotypes about Asian players sell many of them — and Son especially — short.
“It was not until this season — and, in reality, until those few weeks recently when he went supernova — that England, and Europe, started to afford Son the star treatment: the forward whose absence is worth fretting about, the player who might lead his team to the Champions League title, the subject of countless long-form profiles in half a dozen languages. A few days before the game against Liverpool in which he might cement his place as a global superstar, it is worth asking why.”
An all-Premier League final for an era of big clubs
The idea of the European Cup, when it was created in 1955, was to bring together soccer champions from across the continent to decide which country truly had the best team. Was Real Madrid better than A.C. Milan? Could Manchester United beat Benfica? Could Ajax beat Juventus?
But lately the same small clique of big clubs has tended to dominate: