What happened was…
Full disclosure: at half-time we had a whole ‘nother post written. But soccer is a cruel and fickle sport. It might be the most cruel and ficklest.
Ajax, you deserved better. You also should’ve made some adjustments to shut down Lucus Moura.
While the narratives may not be as headline grabbing with Spurs as it would’ve been with Ajax, this is still an interesting match-up with many angles to cover.
Here are the narratives we expect to hear leading up to the game.
NARRATIVE ALERT #1: The Premier League is officially the best domestic league in the world!
It’s kinda hard to argue against this one now, right?
While the top of the top of La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 (lol) are all among the top 7-8 clubs in the world according to FiveThirtyEight’s global soccer rankings (well, maybe not Juventus), England have four teams in the top 10 and the Premier League has dominated this year’s UCL.
Liverpool and Manchester City are the top two ranked teams in the world. All four Premier League teams in the Champions League made the quarters, and both finalists come from England. And with a few exceptions, any Premier League team can win on any given day.
These things tend to ebb and flow. Every few years one league is up, another is down. The Premier League is currently way up.
NARRATIVE ALERT #2: Soccer done the right way!
This point is a remnant from the assumed Liverpool – Ajax match-up, but it still holds, although for slightly different reasons.
Liverpool and Tottenham have overcome some serious obstacles to get here. These are resilient teams who, obviously, never give up. They score and are exciting on the counter-attack. They have star power (although Tottenham’s biggest star, Harry Kane, isn’t a given to return from injury, though recent reports are encouraging that he will).
Maybe it won’t be as exhilarating as Liverpool vs Ajax, but this will be a great match-up with two squads and coaches familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
NARRATIVE ALERT #3: Klopp and Poch are the best coaches in the world!
About those coaches…
Jurgen Klopp has already gotten his just due for the job he’s done at Liverpool. A Champions League win would be the icing on the cake there.
Mauricio Pochettino is respected for sure. This, however, takes him up a few notches.
Neither are up in the Pep Guardiola stratosphere yet, but both are on their way. Prepare for pundits going full-on drool emoji over Klopp’s style and philosophy and Poch’s tactical acumen.
One thing to watch for that will be fascinating: both coaches have been fantastic at making in-game adjustments and substitutions. This will be a chess match. The second half in particular could be stunning.
NARRATIVE ALERT #4: Why aren’t Liverpool heavier favorites?
Despite being a full 24 POINTS AHEAD OF SPURS in the Premier League table–Liverpool aren’t really that heavy a favorite.
Over on FanDuel Sportsbook NJ — odds are:
|Tottenham +280||Draw +250||Liverpool -105|
More specifically, Liverpool find themselves as -220 to lift the cup to Spurs’ +155.
Why aren’t they heavier favorites? They also beat Spurs twice this year already. Is it the familiarity of the teams? We’ll keep an eye out if public money starts hitting Liverpool hard and those odds adjust.
NARRATIVE ALERT #5: Redemption for Liverpool!
This one is tired, but you’ll surely hear about Liverpool redeeming themselves for last year’s loss to Real Madrid.
The loss was somewhat fluky. Sergio Ramos thugged out, tried to rip Mo Salah’s arm out of its socket, then cheap-shotted Loris Karius, giving him a concussion that led to two howlers.
This isn’t quite “2014 San Antonio Spurs” climbing back atop the mountain after a crushing finals defeat–but it is impressive nonetheless.
NARRATIVE ALERT BONUS: Is this Liverpool one of the best teams ever?
This one is only applicable if Liverpool somehow manage to pull out a Premier League title on Sunday (odds are against them, DraftKings Sportsbook NJ has City at -1000, Liverpool at +600).
But if they do…
Liverpool will have won the Premier League with the third highest point total ever. They’ll do so by toppling the reigning champs and greatest team in Premier League history, Man City.
They’ll have defeated the Bundesliga champs (Bayern Munich),
Primeira Liga champs/runner-ups (Porto), and La Liga winners (Barcelona) en route to the UCL crown. That’s after coming out of the “Group of Death” with Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli.
Maybe there have been better teams–but there hasn’t been a squad with a more challenging road towards winning titles.