The showpiece event of European football took place at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on Saturday evening. For the first time since 2008, the Champions League Final was an all-English affair, pitting Tottenham against Liverpool. Having been defeated in last year’s final by Real Madrid, Liverpool were one of the pre-tournament favourites to reach the final again. Tottenham, on the other hand, were relatively unfancied before the tournament began. This was reflected by the pre-game odds for the match. Liverpool could be found as low as 19/10 favourites, whereas Tottenham were priced at 435/100 on the same site.
In the following tactical analysis, we will discuss the set-ups of both sides, whilst highlighting the tactical plans and trends across the 90 minutes.
Routes to the final
Each side had incredible and also improbable routes to the final. Following a poor start to the group stages, Tottenham found themselves on just one point from their first three games. Spurs managed to find a bit of form to eventually qualify from the group stage by virtue of having scored more away goals than Inter Milan. Tottenham qualified from the group stages with eight points, the joint lowest of the 16 sides to progress. In the Round of 16, Spurs comfortably dispatched with Borussia Dortmund to set up a meeting with Manchester City. A missed Sergio Agüero penalty and a second-half Son Heung-min goal gave the London side a narrow lead to take to the Etihad. The game in Manchester became a Champions League classic. Spurs held on to progress (thanks to a late Raheem Sterling winner being overturned by VAR) on away goals. In the Semi-Final they met fan-favourites Ajax which became yet another Champions League classic. Spurs lost 1-0 at home in the first leg before finding themselves 3-0 down on aggregate with 45 mins left to play in Amsterdam. Up step Lucas Moura who scored an incredible hattrick to send Tottenham into the final.
Liverpool themselves also had a tough time of it in the group stages. In an admittedly tough group featuring PSG and Napoli. A late Roberto Firmino winner against PSG gave Liverpool a perfect start to the group before three defeats in their next four to put their place in jeopardy. Liverpool found themselves needing a victory of Napoli on the final matchday on the group stage to stay in the competition and a stunning save from Alisson protected their European hopes in the closing stages as he saved a point-blank Arkadiusz Milik header at the death. In both the Round of 16 and the Quarter Finals, Liverpool eased past their opponents comfortably to set up a Semi Final meeting with Barcelona. A Lionel Messi masterclass gave the Catalans a seemingly unassailable 3-0 first-leg lead over Liverpool. But the Reds had different ideas at Anfield. Liverpool turned it around winning 4-0 on the night to book their ticket in Madrid.
To read the full tactical breakdown of the Champions League Final – click here
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