Liverpool and Tottenham face-off in Champions League showdown
Thousands of football fans poured into Madrid on Saturday for the Champions League final. Liverpool and Tottenham will go head-to-head in the first all-English showdown in the tournament for 11 years and whose ripple effects could be era-defining.
The Spanish capital was taken over by a sea of English supporters on a searingly hot weekend ahead of Saturday's 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) kickoff in the Metropolitano Stadium.
For favourites Liverpool, the final is a chance to become European champions for a sixth time and end the season on the highest of highs after they agonisingly missed out to Manchester City in the Premier League title race, despite losing only once all season.
Last year, Jurgen Klopp's men lost the Champions League final 3-1 to Real Madrid in Kiev after Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah was forced to go off injured and in tears. The pain of losing will likely motivate them to do better.
Spurs however, have never been in this position before. Winning would change everything.
"We are in football because we want to win but I think to get to the final in the Champions League, that journey is the most difficult thing," said Spurs coach Maurice Pochettino.
Leaving nothing to chance
It is 35 years since Spurs were in any European final, and when it comes to their domestic pedigree, they have won just one of their last 14 matches with Liverpool, so are the clear underdogs.
Even so, Liverpool are taking nothing for granted.
"Personally, the games I've played against them in the Premier League have been the toughest games we've played," said Liverpool defender Andy Robertson.
Liverpool coach Klopp however, has lost his six finals as coach.
"I am probably at the moment a world-record holder, in the last seven years at least, in winning semi-finals," Klopp said. "But if I wrote a book about that probably nobody would buy it."
Liverpool reached the Madrid final after their incredible comeback to beat Barcelona in the semi-finals, a 4-0 win at Anfield overturning a 3-0 first-leg deficit as Lionel Messi's side crumbled.
Salah missed that second leg but is fit now, while Klopp confirmed Brazilian livewire Roberto Firmino is ready after a groin injury.
Meanwhile, Tottenham were 3-0 down on aggregate at half-time in the second leg of their tie against Ajax, yet went through on away goals thanks to Lucas Moura's dramatic hat-trick.
That ensured an English sweep in the European finals this season. Whoever wins, the celebrations will be wild.
Victory for Liverpool would put them ahead of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the list of the competition's most successful clubs.
Spurs reached the final despite not outscoring their opponents in the quarter-finals or semi-finals -- a statistical quirk also achieved by PSV Eindhoven when they won the trophy in 1988.
If they can upset the odds, theirs will be the first new name on the cup since Chelsea in 2012.
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