It’s going to be really, really hard for the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final to match the excitement and unpredictability of the semis. We still can’t believe what we watched this past week. Congratulations to Liverpool and Tottenham, you certainly earned your spots.
While yes, an Ajax vs Liverpool final might’ve been more captivating with more compelling narratives (still bitter we had to change that post at the last minute), these two teams didn’t fluke their way into the championship. Consider this:
- Liverpool: Survived the “Group of Death” that included Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli. Then defeated the Bundesliga champs (Bayern Munich) in the Round of 16. Then defeated the Primera champs/runner-up (Porto) in the Quarters. THEN defeated La Liga champs Barcelona by overcoming a 3-0 aggregate deficit. They did this while competing in the most grueling Premier League title race EVER. They haven’t lost domestically since January 3rd and will finish with the third highest point total in the history of English football.
- Tottenham: They survived arguably the second most difficult group in the Champions League, with Barcelona, Inter Milan (3rd in Serie A) and PSV Eindhoven (2nd in Eredivisie). In the Round of 16, they walloped an (at the time) surging Borussia Dortmund who were (again at the time) first in the Bundesliga. The quarters saw Tottenham only beat the best team in the world, Manchester City. And as you know, in the semis, they overcame a 3-0 aggregate–all in the closing 45 minutes of Leg 2–to defeat presumptive Eredivisie champs Ajax.
On to the predictions! We bring back the same cast of characters as our previous two rounds. Read our previous round here.
Champions League Final Predictions
I’m writing this on Friday. I still haven’t come down from the high of Tuesday. What even compares? Maybe I was still this amped four days after my daughter was born–but then again, she was colicy and I didn’t sleep for 3 months so maybe not.
Well, I’ve come to realize that betting is not my forte.
Liverpool was incredibly impressive in knocking off Barcelona despite losing Leg 1 3-0. How on earth do you climb out of a hole like that with a line-up missing two of its top pieces in Salah and Firmino? With both those players back, and with nearly three weeks’ rest between the EPL finale on Sunday and the final on June 1, the Reds will be fresh and at full strength for the first time in a long time.
I also think what happened last year in the UCL final vs. Real Madrid works in Liverpool’s favor: this team has been on this stage before and knows what it will take, and also doesn’t have to worry about Sergio Ramos.
The only “negative” I can think of for Klopp’s team is that it will be a long way from Anfield, and it’s last trip to Spain (Leg 1 against Barcelona) did not go well.
What to say about Spurs? I didn’t like their chances at all against City, and I didn’t think they’d beat Ajax, either. Still can’t comprehend what we saw Wednesday, by the way. This team needs the rest it will get between now and June 1 more than anyone, and it could have Harry Kane back as well. They have been gritty as hell, and from a motivation standpoint, having lost to Liverpool twice already works in their favor in that they’ll be determined not to go 0-for-3 against the Reds, but it won’t be enough. I think this will be tight for 45-60 minutes or so, but Liverpool will pull away late. I’ll stick with what I said this week on the High Press Pod (and continue to show Spurs no respect):
Liverpool 3, Tottenham 1.
What we all witnessed in both semi finals was what the Premier League is all about. That never say die attitude.
Without taking credit away from Liverpool and Spurs achievements, Barca went into Anfield with a philosophy to contain, which is the total opposite to their identity.
Ajax showed signs of complacency in the second half of the first leg and that complacency showed up again in the second half of the second leg due to inexperience. Both Liverpool and Spurs took advantage of their situations.
Yes we’re used to these two teams playing against each other, but what they’re playing for changes the dynamic in every way. We won’t see one team containing or the other fading due to inexperience in the second half. It’ll be a fast and furious 90 minutes of football and as much as I admire what Spurs have achieved — and proving myself and I’m sure many others wrong throughout the CL campaign– I called it from the beginning that this was Liverpool’s year. I believe they have the best manager and crop of players best equipped for lifting the trophy which should’ve been theirs last season.
Our predictions team consist of former Russian national team member Katya Gokhman. Joining her are site-runner Chops, contributing writer and La Liga expert Tyler Everett, and former Premier League striker Carl Cort. After a stint in the US with the NASL, Carl now conducts Las Vegas private soccer training and clinics.