5 Key Battles Which Will Decide the Champions League Final

​For just the second time in the history of the Champions League, two teams from the Premier League will go head to head to be crowned as European champions in the biggest game in club football.

Liverpool staged a breathtaking comeback in their second leg against Barcelona to book their place in the final for the second year in a row, while Tottenham went one better by turning their semi-final with Ajax on its head in just 40 second-half minutes.

Both sides have faced each other 105 times across all competitions over the years, with Liverpool coming out on top in over half of their meetings, but history will go out the window when the Premier League giants face up at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1.

Here are five key battles which could swing the final one way or the other.

Mauricio Pochettino vs Jürgen Klopp


Two of the brightest minds in the managerial side of football, and half of the Premier League’s manager of the season contenders, will meet each other on opposite ends of the dugout for the tenth time when the Champions League final rolls around next month.

It won’t be a stylistic clash in the Spanish capital, with Jürgen Klopp’s famed ‘gegenpressing’ not too dissimilar to Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing and attacking system that he employs in north London.

But while similarities between managers can often throw up a damp squib as teams cancel each other out, matches between Pochettino and Klopp have seen 24 goals fly into the back of the net since their first meeting in October 2015 – the only goalless match between both head coaches.

Kieran Trippier vs Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

Last year’s final against Real Madrid was meant to be the Mohamed Salah show following his 44 goal haul at Liverpool, but a first-half injury after his coming together with Sergio Ramos nipped his final in the bud just 30 minutes into the game.

The Egypt international will now have the chance to really leave his mark in European football history for Liverpool, and Salah will be licking his lips at the prospect at facing one of Tottenham’s most out of form players.

Kieran Trippier’s fall from grace since his free-kick against Croatia has been astronomical and even during Tottenham’s win over Ajax, the 28-year-old was a weak link in defence, popping up with two errors which led to the Dutch side’s opening goals.

Harry Kane vs Virgil van Dijk

Virgil Van Dijk

Although Harry Kane is still an injury doubt for the Champions League final right now, Tottenham’s star striker has always been able to return to full fitness earlier than expected and it’s already been speculated that he’ll be back in the matchday squad on June 1.

The 25-year-old is Tottenham’s highest scoring player ever against Liverpool, level on five goals with Steve Archibald, and he’s found the back of the net more times in this fixture than any other player who could feature in the final.

But standing in Kane’s way will be the Premier League’s Player of the Season, Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutchman, who hasn’t lost a match against Kane since 2016, has almost single-handedly turned Liverpool into title contenders this season, helping to reduce the number of goals which the Reds have conceded by 16 goals in the league.

Moussa Sissoko vs Georginio Wijnaldum

Moussa Sissoko

One of the most important and overlooked battles of the Champions League final this season will be between two former Newcastle United teammates, Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Both players are the legs in midfield for their respective sides and they help to bring a tireless work ethic onto the pitch, often being the key in turning defence into attack.

They’ve made 87 appearances between them this season, establishing themselves as genuinely irreplaceable parts of the first team at both Liverpool and Tottenham.

Dele Alli vs Fabinho


It hasn’t been a golden year for Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli this season, failing to be involved in more than 10 Premier League goals for the first time since his move to north London in 2015.

But he highlighted just how important he is in their current set up during their win in the second leg against Ajax, assisting two of Lucas Moura’s three goals which booked the club’s place in the Champions League final.

It’s not been too dissimilar for Liverpool’s summer signing Fabinho, who took months to get up to speed on Merseyside and featured in just half of the club’s games during the first half of the season.

But since the turn of the year, the Brazil international has announced himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League, also proving to be a key part of Liverpool’s system during their route to a third straight European final.

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