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How will Spurs, Liverpool line up for Champions League final?

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There are major selection decisions for both Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp ahead of the UEFA Champions League final, as key players for Tottenham and Liverpool have returned to fitness ahead of this game.

Pochettino and Klopp will have a restless night…

The showpiece event in Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday sees two familiar Premier League foes collide as Liverpool beat Spurs 2-1 on both occasions in the PL this season.

Given those tactical battles, the second game closer than the first, it will be intriguing to see what formation and personnel both managers go with.

Here’s a look at the latest team news and projected lineups for the mammoth clash in the Spanish capital.


TOTTENHAM

—– Lloris —–

—- Trippier —- Alderweireld —- Vertonghen —- Rose —-

—– Winks —- Sissoko —–

—- Eriksen —- Alli —- Son —-

—– Kane —–


LIVERPOOL

—– Alisson —–

—- Alexander-Arnold —- Gomez —- Van Dijk —- Robertson —-

—– Henderson —- Fabinho —- Wijnaldum —–

—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-


Analysis of team news, starting lineups

There is one name which has dominated the team news ahead of this game: Harry Kane. Will he start? Is he fit enough to only be on the bench? Do Tottenham risk the balance of their team if their leading goalscorer cannot drop deep and drag defenders into awkward pockets if he isn’t fully fit? Pochettino will have had sleepless nights figuring out if his star striker, who has been out since early April, should. Come straight back into the team for the biggest game in Spurs’ history. Tottenham’s manager knows it is a decision which will make or break not only the final but perhaps his entire career as a boss. This is massive.

The rest of Spurs’ lineup hardly picks itself as injuries have mounted up over the final months of the season. But Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen will be at right back and at both center back spots respectively. The latter has recovered from injury, while Danny Rose has stepped in well for the injured Ben Davies at left back. Rose’s pace going forward may well force both Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold to be more defensive.

In midfield Moussa Sissoko will start alongside one of Eric Dier, Harry Winks or Victor Wanyama, and that is a huge call. Wanyama is a true destroyer and has shielded Spurs’ defense well against Liverpool in the past, while Dier is handy to have coming off the bench with his poise on the ball and flexibility to play as a center back, at full back or in midfield. Winks has the skill on the ball to dictate the tempo of the game, but he has been out with a recent injury. Up top Eriksen, Alli and Son will support either Moura and Kane, and at this point it would seem harsh for Moura to lose his spot in the starting lineup after his heroic second half hat trick at Ajax in the semifinal to get Spurs to Madrid. Pochettino’s decision to go with Kane or Moura up top from the start will render all of his other decisions as minor.

Liverpool’s potential starting lineup decisions are very easy for Klopp.

He really has only one dilemma: who starts alongside Virgil Van Dijk at center back?

Joe Gomez has shaken off the rust since returning from injury, but Joel Matip has been steady enough for most of the season and will likely get the nod, while Dejan Lovren has been the odd man out. Gomez would be my pick, but it would be harsh on Matip to leave him out. With Naby Keita out injured, it is between Fabinho and Milner for a spot alongside Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield. With Roberto Firmino’s return to fitness, that means the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri will have to be content with making a contribution off the bench if needed.

Pochettino pays for Levy’s mistakes after 5.5 brilliant seasons at Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino is done as manager of Tottenham Hotspur, thus ending one of the most successful and exciting periods in the club’s 137-year history.

[ MORE: With Pochettino gone, who’ll take over at Tottenham? ]

Pochettino achieved more — even despite failing to win a trophy in his five and a half seasons at the club — than any manager since the legendary Bill Nicholson in the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, and he did so with resources which paled in comparison to those of numerous clubs that his side routinely outperformed.

To credit Pochettino for what he achieved — taking Tottenham from perennial Europa League dwellers to nailed-on Champions League qualifiers well ahead of schedule — isn’t to absolve the Argentine of his own faults or shortcomings.

He couldn’t have been an easy man to work with, or for, given the demanding nature of his human personality, his managerial style and his tough-as-nails tactics. For the past five seasons, he had absolute buy-in from every last individual in the squad, and achieved previously impossible things at a club like Spurs — four straight seasons finishing in the PL’s top-four and the famous run to last season’s Champions League final.

He was relieved of his duties on Tuesday, but the beginning of the end was undoubtedly this summer’s transfer window. When the likes of Christian Eriksen, Toby Aldeweireld and Danny Rose were desperate to leave the club — something Pochettino himself was desperate to oblige as he knew now was the time for a teardown and rebuild — the Spurs hierarchy, namely chairman Daniel Levy, put his foot down and railroaded the 2019-20 season long before it kicked off. It was at that point that Pochettino’s fate was decided, and he immediately understood both the short and long-term ramifications for himself and for the club.

[ MORE: Social media reacts to Pochettino’s shock firing ]

Pochettino was many things as Spurs manager, but adaptable or willing to compromise was not one of them. Surly by nature, he was far more so anytime he spoke publicly. He openly questioned the loyalty and dedication of his players and frequently hinted, as he had done throughout his years of working with Levy, that the club’s two most important figures had different visions of where, and how, to take the club forward.

Committing to Pochettino’s way must feel like joining and henceforth belonging to a cult.

Once the players’ blind willingness to follow the him into a raging inferno had gone, Pochettino was done. No longer were the players willing to endure long, grueling training sessions — sometime double and triple in nature — as it no longer directly benefited them and their respective careers. If Spurs wasn’t the club to double their current contracts and financially secure them for life, nor a club willing to sell them to one of a handful of clubs that would, why should they continue to run themselves into the ground for a disloyal club when they knew they would leave as a free agent in less than 12 months? In short, the current season began an untenable situation for Pochettino, and it only grew worse from there.

[ MORE: FA panel details “very challenging case” to rescind Son red card ]

The fact that Levy, a man best known for pinching his pennies in any negotiation, has willingly chosen to pay Pochettino more than $16 million to no longer work for the club indicates a complete breakdown in communication and that particular working relationship.

In some ways, it’s fitting that Pochettino is free from the financial limitations of Spurs and Levy is left to clean up his own mess.

Unless he already has his next Pochettino lined up and is prepared to back the successor in a way he has never before backed a manager, Levy comes out of this wholly sad ordeal looking like an uncooperative, iron-fisted ruler for having fired the only genius he himself ever hired.

Mauricio Pochettino fired at Tottenham Hotspur

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In a shocking turn of events during the international break, Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked as Tottenham Hotspur manager.

[ MORE: Pochettino paid the price for Levy’s mistakes ]

The club sits 14th in the Premier League table, without a win in its last five league games.

|We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the Board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” the club said in its official statement. “Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.”

[ MORE: Mourinho to replace Poch? ]

“It falls to the Board to make the difficult decisions – this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff – but we do so in the Club’s best interests,” the statement continued. “Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history. I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us. I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here. We have a talented squad. We need to re-energize and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”

Reports had suggested over the past few days that his position was becoming more and more untenable, but there was no indication that a change was this imminent. The Telegraph reported Monday that Pochettino was set to meet with Daniel Levy during the international break about the direction of the club, and they suggested the game against West Ham United this weekend could be “make or break” for the Argentine.

[ MORE: Social media reacts ]

Pochettino had been with the club since joining in 2014. They reached the Champions League final last season, losing to Liverpool, while also reaching the League Cup final, two FA Cup semifinals and they qualified for the UEFA Champions League in each of the last four seasons.

Spurs currently sit three points off fifth place in the Premier League and looked certain to reach the Round of 16 in the UCL this season, as Pochettino’s reputation remains intact and he has been linked with moves to Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid among others.

Who are the favorites to replace Pochettino at Tottenham?

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Mauricio Pochettino was fired by Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday in a shock move by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

Who’s next?

[ MORE: Pochettino paid the price for Levy’s mistakes ]

Spurs host West Ham United in a massive London derby this Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and it will be intriguing to see if the new man in charge will be in the dugout.

Tottenham must already have someone lined up, or at least someone in mind, to pull the plug on Pochettino after his five year spell in charge of the north London club totally transformed their fortunes.

Some huge managers are the early frontrunners for the now vacant position with Pochettino’s close friend, Jose Mourinho, the overwhelming favorite to take charge of Tottenham. Eddie Howe and Brendan Rodgers have both been linked with the position as they continue to work wonders at Bournemouth and Leicester City respectively, although it would be tough to imagine Rodgers would leave Leicester given their incredible start to the season. Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo is also a contender, but given the financial backing he has received he may stay at Molineux for the time being.

[ MORE: Social media reacts to Poch exit ]

Looking to Europe, Ajax coach Erik ten Hag is a name which keeps cropping up, while Max Allegri is out of work and he ran a tight ship at Juventus, plus he has not been hiding his desire to work in the Premier League. Julian Nagelsmann has only just taken charge of RB Leipzig so it would be strange for him to bail out on that new project, while Rafael Benitez could certainly be lured to return from the Chinese Super League but that would be a left-field choice.

All signs point to Mourinho or Allegri…

Below is a look at the current bookmakers favorites to replace Pochettino at Spurs, listed in the order of who is favorite.

  • Jose Mourinho – Red-hot favorite. Knows how to win trophies and is the short-term solution. Is he the right man to take Spurs to the ‘next level’ whatever that is?
  • Massimiliano Allegri – Did a wonderful job at both AC Milan and Juventus and is capable of building strong defensive teams which also have attacking flair. Currently out of work and is keen to work in England. If it’s not Mourinho, has to be him.
  • Eddie Howe – Out of the contenders currently in the PL, Howe seems the most likely. He may have taken Bournemouth as far as he can and this would be a natural progression. Tough to see it happening though.
  • Brendan Rodgers – If Leicester weren’t second in the PL table he’d be the leading contender. But with the Foxes flying, tough to see Rodgers leaving them on the cusp of a historic season.
  • Erik Ten Hag – Has said he wants to stay at Ajax until the end of the current season and Bayern Munich are chasing him hard. An outsider.
  • Julian Nagelsmann – As we mentioned, just arrived at RB Leipzig and the young coach is ambitious but seems keen to remain in Germany. For now.
  • Rafael Benitez – This would make sense for a short-term appointment to steady the ship as Benitez has so much experience and he’s won trophies. Spurs would have to pay him a ton to leave China and this just doesn’t seem like the right time in his career or the right move for Spurs.
  • Nuno Espirito Santo – An interesting outsider as Wolves have been superb over the past three seasons since he arrived in England. Like Pochettino when he arrived from Southampton, Santo is a manager on an upward curve. That worked out pretty well for Spurs last time…

Social media reacts to Pochettino’s shock firing

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Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur after he spent over five years in charge.

The Argentine coach has seen his Spurs side slump in recent months as they stumbled through the latter months of last season despite a miraculous run to the UEFA Champions League final as they lost to Liverpool in Madrid.

[ MORE: Mourinho to replace Poch?

Pochettino’s side currently sit 14th in the Premier League table after three wins from their opening 12 games of the season and with so many players seemingly ready to leave this summer (Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose to name a few) all was not well behind-the-scenes.

But nobody expected this so early in the season and so soon after Tottenham moved into their new home and big spending was promised.

Here’s a look at some of the reaction on social media to the shock firing of Pochettino.