Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium plays host to the showpiece event of European club football as two English sides contest the UEFA Champions League final.
Which of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool will take home the most coveted prize on the continent? Here’s GhanaCrusader’s tactical preview looking at some of the key direct battles that can influence the outcome.
Son Heung-min vs Trent Alexander-Arnold
Whether or not Tottenham’s Korean dynamo Son starts is probably down to the fitness levels of Harry Kane, who is rumoured to be in line for a return. Son’s unpredictability, directness and pass will threaten Liverpool’s right flank, where 20-year old Trent Alexander-Arnold will be the youngest ever player to appear in consecutive Champions League finals. It’s an exciting battle in prospect down Tottenham’s left.
Dele Alli vs Fabinho
Fabinho has grown into his role at Liverpool after being a bit-part player in the first few months of his time at Anfield. When called upon, he has filled gaps in the centre of defence when injuries piled up, but his breakthrough performance was against Man United at Anfield in the Premier League, where he bossed proceedings and guided his side to a 3-1 win. Against Dele Alli here, he will be charged with breaking up play and distributing the ball over long distances or sharing that role with Jordan Henderson at the very least.
Fabinho will have to call on all of his experience at right back in the past, to deal with Alli’s dangerous drifting to the left.
Toby Alderweireld vs Roberto Firmino
Tottenham’s Belgian hard man will play alongside his compatriot Jan Vertonghen in the club’s first ever Champions League final, and his unenviable task will be to marshal and control the excellent off-the-ball movement of Roberto Firmino.
ALderweireld will have his hands full all evening and nut his excellent timing in the tackle and anticipation to snuff out danger will make this a fascinating 1 v 1 contest.
Danny Rose vs Mohamed Salah
Liverpool’s Egyptian superstar ended up sharing the Golden Boot in the Premier League with two fellow African stars, teammate Sadio Mane and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Salah’s season started slowly but he picked up the pace considerably, scoring with a memorable rocket against Chelsea at Anfield. His devastating trickery and pace on Liverpool’s right will hamper Tottenham left-back Danny Rose’s natural inclination to get forward. How Rose manages to balance that attacking instinct with his defensive responsibilities could be a telling factor come the final whistle.
How often Rose can get forward? Must balance natural inclination to get forward with defensive duties
Virgil van Dijk vs Harry Kane
The PFA player of the year has stood head and shoulders above his adversaries this season. Many eyebrows were raised when Liverpool parted with a world record fee for a defender to land Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, but the figure has started to pay dividends.
Spurs goal machine Harry Kane is rumoured to be in line for a return from an ankle injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the Premier League season, but a Champions League final presents the opportunity for him to make an impact on the grandest stage. One of the planet’s finest central defenders against one of the globe’s most predatory strikers really needs no introduction.
Of course, who can forget the unpredictable Sadio Mane, who will pose a threat to the entire backline?
The stage is set.
source: ghana crusader