Mark Lawrenson has given his prediction ahead of tomorrow night’s Champions League final.
Tottenham Hotspur will do battle with Liverpool in Madrid for the honour of being the champions of Europe.
It is the first time in Tottenham’s history in which they have made it through to European football’s most prestigious club competition, while Liverpool are looking to win it for the sixth time after missing out in the final last year to Real Madrid.
It’s hardly surprising that Lawrenson has backed his former side to come out on top at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium given his track record for never tipping Liverpool to lose.
Spurs are boosted by the return of the likes of Harry Kane, Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez and Harry Winks which has allowed Mauricio Pochettino to select from a fully fit squad.
In total Tottenham and Liverpool have met 170 times in all competitions, the Reds winning 79 to Spurs’ 48; there have been 43 draws.
He told BBC Sport Online: “It is hugely important for Liverpool that they have something to show for such a fantastic season, and this is obviously their last chance.
“They deserve something – there is no bias in me saying that either, because they have been absolutely outstanding.
“In last year’s final, Liverpool faced Real Madrid, who had won the competition in three of the previous four seasons. this time they are playing Tottenham. No disrespect to Spurs, but Liverpool need to be winning this game.
“We all know what Real were all about, they were serial winners and a team full of players experienced on this stage and in stopping opponents in different ways. Spurs are a dangerous side, with some brilliant players, but playing them does not seem such a daunting prospect.
“I don’t think the result makes any difference to Liverpool going forward, because I think they will still attract top players because of their manager, because they are in the Champions League and because they can pay the wages. Players look at Liverpool now and go: ‘Wow, what a good team to play for.’
“But it would stop people hitting Jurgen Klopp with the stick that he has been in charge of Liverpool since October 2015 and has not won anything yet.
“People say the same about Mauricio Pochettino too, but what he has achieved in five years as Spurs boss is also very impressive. The only difference with Klopp’s situation is that maybe Spurs need him to win a trophy with them to stop him from clearing off.
“If Tottenham win in Madrid, then he will be able to go to chairman Daniel Levy and make some serious demands to strengthen his squad.
“Like Liverpool, of course they will think they can win this game, because they have some extremely good players and their journey to the final has been an incredible story.
“Spurs were on the brink of going out in the group stage, had to get past Manchester City in the quarter-finals and fought back against Ajax too.
“They have lost lots of games this season – 19 compared to seven by Liverpool – but Pochettino has got them to this final, and it does not really matter how they did it. The way they have performed in adversity means that however they start Saturday’s final, you just cannot write them off.
“Harry Kane has not played since he was injured in the first leg of Tottenham’s win over City in the quarter-finals on 9 April. If he is available, surely he will only start on the bench.
“To be honest, that is not the blow it might have been in the past. Playing with Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min through the middle has a good look about it for Tottenham’s attack.
“Those two are both absolutely rapid and, if they play, then they are definitely going to cause Liverpool problems on the counter-attack.
“I know Liverpool have beaten them home and away in the Premier League this season but Spurs were very good in the second half at Anfield at the end of March – in fact, they were the better team.
“We know Pochettino has got match-winners right through his team and they are so solid at the back too, whether they play with two centre-halves or three.
“Everyone is saying Liverpool are favourites to win, but they can only be slight favourites.
“I do think if Klopp’s side are on it then they have got too much for Spurs, because the front three carry such a scoring threat and the width from their full-backs means you would think they will create enough chances to win.
“I also believe Liverpool will be in a better place mentally for their experience in last year’s final. They will know what it feels like when they walk away after losing a huge game like that and it will be something else driving them on to make sure there is a different outcome this time.
“So, by hook or by crook, I think Liverpool will win – although it will be extremely close.
“But, whoever wins, it will be a fantastic story and it is great for English football that we have had four teams in the two European finals. The rest of Europe will be thinking: ‘They are not going away.’
“Lawro’s prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool.”
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