The European club season reaches the climax today with the Champions League final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.
It is an all-English final, but for many football fans across the globe, attention will be on three players, Harry Kane for Spurs, and two African players on the side of Liverpool.
This is the first all-Premier League Champions League final since Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties in Moscow in 2008.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are among the top strikers in world football at the moment, and Liverpool fans are looking forward to the duo to shoot down Spurs this evening in the battle of Madrid.
The Egyptian forward, a joint Premier League Golden Boot winner, scored 22 league goals during the season along with teammate Mane and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Salah and his Liverpool teammates were given time off at the end of English Premier League season to cool off ahead of today’s Champions League final.
Salah said during the week that he would be happy to lift the Champions League trophy this evening.
On his part, Mane says he is fully focused on trying to help Liverpool win the Champions League.
Reports from Spain in recent weeks have suggested that Real Madrid want to bring the Senegal forward and Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba to the Bernabeu.
The 27-year-old has scored 17 goals in 24 matches for Liverpool since the turn of the year, and is expected to lead his country’s attack in Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts later this month.
Harry Kane of Tottenham and Roberto Firmino of Liverpool are coming back from injury and both will be available for today’s final.
Liverpool finished 2nd in the Premier League with 97 points, just one fewer than champions Manchester City. Tottenham stumbled into 4th position with a haul of 71 points, one point less than Chelsea and one point more than Arsenal.
Liverpool and Spurs played each other twice in the Premier League with Liverpool winning 2-1 each time.
Liverpool will be missing Naby Keita who has not recovered from an injury picked up against Barcelona in the semi-final. However, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah, who both missed the second-leg against Barcelona, are available.
Tottenham have been sweating over the availability of the two Harrys but things are now looking good. Harry Kane has been out for the last two months after injuring ankle ligaments while Harry Winks has been dogged by a groin injury.
Both players last played in the quarter-final against Manchester City. The big question facing Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino is whether he risks starting one or both of the returnees.
The biggest difference between Liverpool, season-to-season, is their goals against statistic. A season ago in the Premier League, Liverpool allowed 38 goals, this season just 22.
Two of the best managers in the world will go head to head. While Mauricio Pochettino is unashamedly emotional and values trust over tactics, Jurgen Klopp’s passion and style have transformed Liverpool.
Mauricio Pochettino’s work at Tottenham is finally starting to bear fruit while Jurgen Klopp’s transformation of Liverpool is just a trophy away from being complete.