In erasing a 3-0 deficit, Liverpool not only shocked Barcelona and the soccer world, but also asserted themselves as the clear favorite to win the EPL. The Reds’ futures at FanDuel Sportsbook NJ were last priced at -230 before Wednesday’s other semifinal between Ajax and Spurs.
Ajax appeared to be on its way to the UCL final, but lost in unforgettable fashion as Lucas Moura’s astonishing third (!) goal, in the 96th (!), gave Spurs the 3-2 win. Tottenham advanced on an aggregate score of 3-3 thanks to their away goal advantage.
Plenty has already been – and will be – said about what happened at Anfield Tuesday night, but here’s a quick look ahead at how they match up with Tottenham, which was left for dead at halftime Wednesday but pulled off a miraculous comeback.
Anyone who’s paid attention to the UCL knows how dangerous Tottenham are despite being shorthanded, but we’re talking about a Liverpool team as good as any we’ve seen in a while. A year after nearly winning the UCL, the Reds added PFA Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk and Premier League clean sheet-leading Alisson at two of the only positions where they needed upgrades. If not for a historic run by Manchester City, Liverpool would be closing in on a historic EPL-UCL double.
But can they do what nemesis City, among others, could not: turn away a Spurs team running on fumes but finding a way, one game after another?
Will Liverpool be able to overpower Tottenham?
Having gotten through City, the one team that is arguably more talented than Liverpool, in the quarters, Spurs are the last group likely to be intimidated by what Jurgen Klopp’s team pulled off Tuesday. Spurs can’t possibly be afraid of anything after what they pulled off Wednesday.
But they’re meeting a Liverpool squad that just outran and outmuscled Barcelona in unforgettable fashion.
It’s no secret that Barcelona’s a seasoned club. It was still staggering, however, to see the issues Barcelona’s thirty-somethings besides Lionel Messi — who struggled to play up to his own impossible standard – had against Liverpool’s collective athleticism. Luis Suárez was largely anonymous, Sergio Busquets looked completely overwhelmed and Jordi Alba had multiple awful turnovers. And those were by no means the only Blaugrana players who could not keep up.
A lack of footspeed will not be a major problem for a team as familiar with Liverpool as Tottenham. The question is whether an injury-depleted Spurs lineup will finally falter against the physical challenges they’re going to face from VVD, Jordan Henderson and the rest of a Liverpool squad that bullied Barcelona from the start yesterday. While I certainly don’t see Spurs responding by wilting the way Barcelona did, it will be fascinating to see how Mauricio Pochettino’s men react to the pressure of both the UCL final atmosphere at Wanda Metropolitano and their opponent.
Make no mistake, these teams deserve to be here
One thing is for certain: both of these teams are absolutely deserving of their spots in the finals.
Liverpool are en route to the third-highest point total in Premier League history. To get to the finals, they’ve beaten the Bundesliga champs (Bayern Munich), the potential Primeira Liga champs (Porto, though they’ll likely end up second), and La Liga champs Barcelona. A win against Ajax and they’ll have slayed the likely Eredivisie winners as well.
Tottenham made it out of a difficult group that included Barcelona, Inter Milan, and PSV Eindhoven. From there they conquered an in-form Borussia Dortmund that many expected to make some noise this Champions League campaign. After that, they only beat Man City and overcame a strong Ajax team on the road — DESPITE BEING DOWN 3-0 AGGREGATE AT HALFTIME — all with their best player, Harry Kane, injured.
No seriously, watch this–this actually happened:
In the meantime, keep an eye out for our 2019 UEFA Champions League Final predictions and combined starting XI next week.