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.
—– Lloris —–
—- Trippier —- Alderweireld —- Vertonghen —- Rose —-
—– Winks —- Sissoko —–
—- Eriksen —- Alli —- Son —-
—– Kane —–
—– 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.