De flesta lagen runt om i Europa har tagit sommarlov, men vi har en match kvar att spela, den största matchen. Klockan 21.00 på lördag ska vi och Tottenham göra upp om Champions League-titeln. För att få en lägesrapport från våra motståndare har vi varit i kontakt med Kevin Devries(@kevrov) från EPL Round table(@EPLroundtable), han berättar här om våra finalmotståndare:
1. The Premier League finished two weeks ago, what are your thoughts on Spurs performances in the league?
It was a pretty disappointing league campaign to be honest. An old, nasty habit of the club reared it’s ugly head as Tottenham often failed to beat teams they were “supposed to”, en route to losing 13 matches. That mark is the worst since Pochettino joined the club yet, arguably, this has been his most impressive season as Spurs’ manager. With the second-most injuries in the Premier League this season, the Argentine manager was forced to make many formational changes which led to frequent breakdowns in communication. Despite all of this though, Pochettino still managed to hold the reins steady, guiding Tottenham into an all-important top-four spot. Many were naturally disappointed with the run in but, when everyone was saying Tottenham were in the title race I kept saying, “No, Tottenham are just winning the top-four race” and, while it was Chelsea who ended up sneaking third, we had built enough of a cushion that even with our late-season struggles we were still able to claim a Champions League place for 2019/20
2. You moved to the new stadium recently, what has that meant to the team?
It has been massive. There have already been magical moments, especially in the Champions League quarter-finals in which Hugo Lloris’ penalty save, and Son’s winner will forever be etched into the mids of those who saw them. The “new stadium bounce” didn’t last particularly long, winning just four consecutive matches, but those wins proved to be massive in the pursuit of both of our objectives: securing a top-four finish domestically, and making a deep cup run in Europe. For the fans, the new stadium is a return home and, on a larger scale, it is a big step towards competing with the rest of the top six financially.
3. How has the form of the team been during the last weeks of the season?
In the league? Atrocious! In the final 15 Premier League outings Tottenham won just six matches, losing to the likes of Southampton, Burnley, and Bournemouth. For me, this is really more of a condemnation of depth than anything else though as our best players were always tired from, or being rested for Champions League matches. Unfortunately, the players that were asked to step up in those situations frequently didn’t. This strategy did benefit us in Europe though with Tottenham just managing to advance past both Manchester City and Ajax in the past month. The performances have not been pretty in either competition for quite some time, but that hasn’t stopped Spurs from reaching their objectives thus far.
4. The final of Champions League is next, can you tell us a bit about your way to the final?
The European journey hasn’t been easy, but Spurs have consistently dug themselves out of trouble when needed to make sure the Champions League dream stayed alive. It started in the group stage with Tottenham constantly shooting themselves in the foot, conceding late goals to both PSV and Inter, which led to Tottenham sitting on just one point after three matches. Then things swung the other way with Spurs the lucky ones, picking up late goals from Kane, Eriksen, and Lucas in the final three matches to sneak into the knockout rounds over Inter on goal difference. The quarterfinal round was definitely the easiest with Tottenham cruising past Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate, ensuring a place in the semi-final… which end up being absolutely wild. In the first leg, Hugo Lloris saved an Aguero penalty, Kane went off injured, and Son scored the only goal giving Tottenham a 1-0 lead in the tie. In response, Manchester City came out firing in the second leg scoring four goals at the Etihad, but they also let in three from Tottenham including a brace from Son and a goal off Llorente’s hip and, despite winning 4-3 on the day, City were eliminated after a late goal from Sterling was ruled out for offside. Having advanced to the semi-final, Tottenham faced an Ajax side who had already claimed the scalps of European giants Real Madrid and Juventus. The Dutch side dominated the first leg at Tottenham’s new stadium but only managed to take a 1-0 lead into the match at the Johan Cruijff Arena. Ajax scored twice in the first half and looked set to advance, but then everything changed at half-time. Pochettino brought on Llorente and shifted to a more direct attack, and it paid off massively with frequent knockdowns to Dele Alli and Lucas’ who ended up scoring a hat-trick, and a miraculous 94th-minute goal to secure the first ever Champions League final appearance in Tottenham’s history. The run certainly hasn’t been easy on the heart, but it’s shown that no matter how bad things look, we have the ability to overcome just about anything.
5. Harry Kane has been injured for a while, do you think he will be fit for the final? If he´s fit, will Moura or Son be on the bench?
According to Kane, he’d be ready to play the final if it were today. He has always been a quick healer and it’s of little surprise that he’s already back in training ahead of the final. Those ankle ligaments have definitely taken a beating and he will likely need surgery long-term, but in the meantime, he should be alright. Whether he starts or not is an entirely different question though. Against both City and Ajax we were largely outplayed in the midfield and saw the tide turn when Llorente was introduced opting to avoid the midfield altogether, and just lump the ball up front and have the Spaniard head it down in the direction of our other attacking players. While inelegant, it’s likely that we will face the same issues against Liverpool, so the same solution may be in order. It would obviously be a controversial choice but I would not be shocked if Kane was on the bench on June 1st.
6. What kind of game do you expect in the final?
A crazy one. In matches this big, most players revert to who they really are with instructions flowing in one ear and out the other. Liverpool do have a bit of an advantage in this regard considering they made it to this stage last season, but it will probably take some time for Tottenham to adjust to the situation. As a result of that, and Spurs’ trends this season, an early Liverpool goal seems likely… and then whoever scores the second goal likely wins. If Tottenham score the second goal, they could view this as fate which could prompt another dramatic comeback, but if they don’t the heads could drop. At time of writing, I’ll give Liverpool a slight 51-49 advantage but this is football and anything can happen.