Mauricio Pochettino believes guiding Tottenham to Champions League success would provide more "satisfaction" than doing so at Manchester United or Manchester City after lavish spending.

Spurs will contest the Champions League final against Liverpool in Madrid on Saturday, with both Pochettino and counterpart Jurgen Klopp aiming to win their first European titles.

Pochettino's side truly defied the odds to come through dramatic ties with Manchester City and Ajax – against whom they needed a last-gasp goal to draw 3-3 on aggregate after going 3-0 down – en route to the final, while they have not bought a single senior player for almost 18 months.

Although he has earned acclaim for Spurs' campaign, for a period earlier this season it looked as though his days at the club were limited, with United circling in the wake of Jose Mourinho's sacking.

But, United went for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and, as Pochettino prepares to take Spurs into a first European final since 1984, he has no doubt such a feat is more of an achievement than it would be if he did it at Old Trafford.

"To win a title in a different project like Tottenham – that means the satisfaction is more," he told reporters.

"If you win with Manchester City or Manchester United, it's normal. If you spend a lot of money, you should win or you must win. But at Tottenham, no one expects.

"And if you build something special, it is going to be remembered forever. If we win the Champions League, it's going to be a massive example for football – I think forever.

"I believe in destiny, but when you create your destiny. I don't believe in sitting here and waiting for something to happen.

"You create your destiny with your behaviour, with your actions; if you're natural, spontaneous, genuine in all that you do."

Liverpool's elite status in Europe and at home will not be affected even if they lose Saturday's Champions League final against Tottenham, according to former Red Danny Murphy.

Jurgen Klopp has overseen a major improvement at Liverpool during his four years in charge, guiding them to back-to-back Champions League finals and turning them into genuine title challengers domestically.

Although Manchester City lifted the Premier League trophy, the Reds ran them close and finished just a point adrift on 97, a record points total for runners-up in the division.

As for Spurs, they scraped a top-four finish and were 27 points off the top of the table despite looking capable of a title challenge for a period.

Victory for Spurs in Madrid on Saturday could be a game-changer in terms of attracting better players and helping them reach the next level, but the Reds will be there regardless of whether or not they add a sixth European crown to their collection.

When asked which team would be affected the most by winning the Champions League, Murphy told Omnisport: "Tottenham.

"It matters to both of them, massively, Liverpool have progressed so much that they're competing for the Premier League with City now and they've been in two Champions League finals.

"So, if Liverpool lose, are they still going to compete with City next year? Yes, they are. Are they still going to compete in the Champions League? Yes.

"Would it [defeat] be disappointing? Yes, and would the pressure increase? Yes, I think it would, but I think for Tottenham, what it would do for them in terms of attracting players, keeping their own players and keeping the manager, and making more money worldwide, it would be huge in comparison."

Some have also tied the fate of the trophy to that of Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, with the Argentinian linked with Juventus, among other clubs.

But Murphy, who also played for Spurs, is convinced Pochettino is there to stay.

"I don't think he'll go [leave Spurs] either way," he added. "Personally, I think there's a lot of positivity from him.

"I know there's been a little bit of analysis on his tongue-in-cheek comments about leaving if they win it, but I think he's there for a while.

"I think he wants to be there. I think they're going to back him in the summer. It [winning the Champions League] is more about the players you can attract rather than the manager. I think he's onboard."


Murphy was talking to Omnisport on behalf of Greene King's Summer of Sport campaign, which is encouraging people to watch more sport ahead of the Champions League Final, Nations League Finals and Women's World Cup.

Luis Garcia believes Liverpool are under more pressure in the Champions League final, but feels their experience may also help against Tottenham.

Jurgen Klopp's side are in the decider for the second straight season, facing Spurs on Saturday a year after losing to Real Madrid.

Liverpool also secured 97 points in the Premier League this campaign, but fell short to Manchester City in an incredible title race.

Luis Garcia helped the club win the Champions League in 2005 and told Omnisport: "Always arriving or approaching the game as the favourites gives you the extra pressure that you don't need. And the players, they know exactly what it is to feel that they have to win a competition.

"They almost done it last year, they almost done it this year with the Premier League. And they are back in the final. That's a lot of pressure.

"They know a massive fan base is behind them, supporting them, but also expecting them to win, so that's a lot of pressure."

Tottenham are in their first Champions League final, having overcome Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Ajax in the knockout stage.

"The other side, for Spurs, it's a first final they're going to play and that inexperience is going to play maybe against them. You can see both sides, it's not going to be an easy game," Luis Garcia added.

"I think both teams have so much respect for each other and brilliant players with a lot of experience.

"Maybe more on the side of Liverpool and hopefully they can manage that situation better than Tottenham players and they can win.

"But I'm sure that it's going to be a very, very difficult game for both teams."

Harry Kane faces an anxious wait to see if he will be included in the Tottenham team for the Champions League final.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Saturday's final in Madrid, Mauricio Pochettino indicated it will be "painful" to have to decide whether to play Kane, who will hope to have proven his fitness sufficiently in training.

Kane is Tottenham's talisman, but he has not played since injuring his ankle in the first leg of the quarter-final against Manchester City in early April.

The England captain's availability is a massive boost for Spurs' chances of winning their maiden Champions League title - but should he be in their starting XI? Two Omnisport writers offer opposing views to the big question ahead of the game.


Kane should be benched - Jamie Smith

Pochettino faces an unenviable call, but the right move would be for Kane to be named among the substitutes.

Kane often takes time to reach full speed after an injury and the Champions League final is not the place for him to feel his way back into action.

Neither would it be fair for one of Spurs' heroes from the semi-final against Ajax to be left out for someone who played no part in that remarkable comeback.

Lucas Moura would be the most likely player to drop out for Kane but, without the Brazilian's stunning hat-trick in Amsterdam, Spurs would not have made it to Madrid.

It is not just a question of fairness, either. Liverpool will press their opponents and Tottenham need to do the same, as they did in unsettling City in that epic quarter-final.

Kane is a brilliant striker, probably the best number nine in the world, but Lucas and Son Heung-min are better equipped for this role. 

And what an asset Kane would be for Pochettino to use in the second half if Spurs need a goal.


Kane must start - Ben Spratt

This is surely the best chance Tottenham will ever get to win the Champions League, potentially making it Kane's best opportunity to triumph, too.

Having won the Golden Boot in the Premier League twice, as well as last year's World Cup in Russia, he will be itching to prove himself in the biggest club match of all.

If Kane was 100 per cent fit, there would be no question over his role. And he may well be healthy, given that it has been almost two months since he went down with injury.

Either way, Spurs are facing a Liverpool side who have demonstrated in a pair of Premier League matches that they are stronger than Pochettino's men, who need all the help they can get to upset the odds.

Kane is likely to feature at some stage, whether from the start or as a substitute, so why wait until the closing stages to introduce a highly motivated, incredibly talented scorer?

Tottenham's best results this season have come in chaotic contests where goals have gone in at both ends. Think back to those second legs against Manchester City and Ajax.

Such a thrilling approach would only be more effective with a clinical Kane in the side.

Liverpool have been labelled favourites to claim the Champions League crown when they face Tottenham in Madrid on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp's men are coming to the conclusion of an excellent campaign and can bury the demons of 2018 with a third win over Spurs this season alone.

Tottenham, though, have shattered any notion of being pushovers in a remarkable run to the Wanda Metropolitano and coach Mauricio Pochettino has no doubt searched meticulously for the strengths and weaknesses of a gameplan that took his opponents to 97 points in the Premier League.

We have done likewise, using Opta data to identify where the match will be won and lost, and how the outsiders might gain the upper hand.

 

Can Spurs pose a threat to dominant Van Dijk?

Virgil van Dijk became the first defender since 2005 to be named PFA Players' Player of the Year after proving a transformative force for a previously vulnerable Liverpool defence.

An unshakeably calm character, the Dutchman did not allow a single player to dribble past him throughout the entirety of a remarkable 38-game Premier League campaign.

Nobody succeeded in outfoxing Van Dijk in his 11 appearances in the Champions League, either; for comparison, Toby Alderweireld was dribbled past on nine occasions, and Jan Vertonghen on three.

To the Reds centre-back's additional credit is that the man in front of him, Fabinho, allowed opponents to escape his attention 20 times, one more than Son Heung-min at the top of the list.

How, then, can Spurs keep him occupied? Get the ball to Lucas Moura.

In a team that likes to go beyond the back four, the Brazilian is a standout: his 31 completed dribbles rank above all others from these two squads and have come at a success rate of 70.45 per cent.

Lucas, on target when these teams met at Anfield in March, will be bubbling with belief following his star turn in the stunning semi-final turnaround at Ajax and possesses the kind of quality that could knock Van Dijk off his stride.

 

 

Piercing the press

An essential piece in the puzzle for Tottenham could well be a fit-again player named Harry. Just not that one.

Rather than star goalscorer Kane, it is midfielder Winks whose timely recovery might enable Spurs to undermine a central tenet of Jurgen Klopp's footballing philosophy.

The 23-year-old England international appears to have overcome a groin injury suffered at the start of April and Pochettino will be tempted to thrust him straight back into the starting XI.

Winks – described by his manager in September as having the "perfect" profile – recorded a passing accuracy of 91 per cent in his nine Champions League appearances en route to the final, with a success rate of 87.88 in the opposition half.

His figures are superior to the best Liverpool have to offer in both categories and paint the picture of a player that could unpick Liverpool's vaunted press, a carefully sculpted system that has suffocated many a midfield over the past two years.

Spurs invest similar amounts of energy into disrupting distribution, leaving it as no surprise that attacker Lucas, striker Kane and Fernando Llorente, along with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, all rank in the top three for duels won for their respective sides.

Players who have the poise and precision to pass under harassment are set to have a large say on the outcome of the contest.

 

Winning in wide areas

In less than 10 months, Kieran Trippier has gone from emergent World Cup hero to maligned man and England discard.

His young team-mate in Russia, Trent Alexander-Arnold, has been on a completely different trajectory, attracting adulation amid a battle with Andrew Robertson to lead the Reds for assists.

The dynamic full-backs provide width for Liverpool going forward and Trippier, presuming he gets the nod ahead of Serge Aurier, will be determined to prove he is on the same level.

Trippier's numbers in the Champions League this term are more encouraging than might be expected of a player recently axed from Gareth Southgate's squad.

In just six starts he has created the most scoring chances (23) of all full-backs at the two clubs, including two more than Alexander-Arnold and 14 more than Scotland captain Robertson.

It must be noted that Trippier's status as set-piece taker helps to inflate that figure but his defensive contribution is also not to be overlooked, the so-called 'Bury Beckham' responsible for a joint-high 17 tackles at Tottenham.

If manager Pochettino opts to eschew a mobile forward line spearheaded by Lucas and Son and instead pursues a strategy hinging on delivery from wide areas, he would be wise to consider Fernando Llorente for more than a bit-part role.

The towering centre-forward has won 34 aerial duels – second only to Van Dijk – from no more than a solitary start and seven substitute appearances.

Whether on the deck or in the air, Tottenham are not without the tools required to spring an upset on their more fancied opponents.

"I would say we have two proper football teams in the final. I respect a lot what 'Poch' has done..."

"Full credit to Jurgen Klopp – fantastic manager – the coaching staff and the players – unbelievable players. A great club like Liverpool with all their history…"

"He had a very talented group when he came there and how they've improved together has been very impressive..."

"Jurgen is a very successful manager and I admire him a lot..."

"I'm a 'shiny' person? Oh, 'brilliant'! Thank you! That's nice! You have to say that to 'Poch', he's a nice fellow as well..."

"He's great; he's always happy, he's optimistic, he's a really good example, I think he's spontaneous, he's natural. I like him a lot."

It reads like a script of an advert from one of the Champions League's myriad commercial partners; one of those cringeworthy 30-second snippets of fans of all countries and creeds united in squeaky-clean song and dance all before The Big Game, brought to you by This Company, begins its inoffensive broadcast.

But no. These were the words of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino, 24 hours before the Champions League final, the grandest fixture in club football. Praising contemporaries in sport is hardly unusual, whether it's genuine or part of some mind-game masterplan to befuddle the opponent. This was nothing of the sort, though. This was mutual respect bordering on eulogy, the platitude amplitude cranked up to 11.

And you know what? It was fine.

Liverpool and Tottenham might be about the most satisfying final for the neutral observer in years. You just can't begrudge them their chance to lift the trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano, which looked suitably resplendent in the searing Madrid sun on Friday.

Each side fought to escape their group, Tottenham recovering from one win in their first four games to scrape through and Liverpool making up for some wretched away performances to seal progress by beating Napoli. Each impressed in the last 16, dispatching the top two teams in Germany in imperious fashion.

Spurs then knocked out Manchester City, probably the best team in Europe, in an utterly compelling two-legged eight-goal circus act. Liverpool made comparatively light work of Porto, it's true, but their performances were nonetheless worthy of the highest commendation.

And then came those semi-finals. The first-leg misery, the injury worries – Harry Kane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah – and the daunting prospect of trying to shatter the beliefs of two bands of devout Cruyffian disciples. And then Georginio Wijnaldum, Divock Origi and Lucas Moura produced the performances of their lives, and Barcelona and Ajax were left in the dust.

This is the second all-English European final of the week, but this is a long way from that soulless Europa League meeting in Baku. For one thing, there are plenty of fans here. At the UEFA-approved fan zones or in the hip streets of the Malasana district, Liverpool and Spurs shirts are mixing with each other and the locals in general good humour: a song here, a beer or two there, but none of the behaviour to warrant Marca's 'Fear' headline that foretold their arrival.

The aggressive scrutiny on the teams is lesser, too. Pochettino will be welcomed back to north London with open arms regardless of Saturday's result; the same could not necessarily be said of Arsenal's Unai Emery. Maurizio Sarri, in his first season in the job, has got Chelsea back into the Champions League, lost one cup final on penalties and won another brilliantly, and yet looks likely to return to Italy after a year in England of being pilloried by fans for having a set playing style. Would Jurgen Klopp be treated to 'F*** gegenpressing' if Liverpool fall behind to Spurs?

From the supporters to the managers to the teams, this is exactly the final UEFA would have hoped for. As the European Club Association reportedly pursues its European Super League with the incognisant bravado of Great Britain's no-deal Brexiteers, the continent's governing body are being presented with the perfect tonic: its biggest game contested by teams capable of captivating brilliance, led by managers of exemplary skill and manners, backed by fans who are ecstatic just to be here. We're even going to have two team photos before kick-off, with one including squad players not in the starting line-up, because Pochettino asked for it, because of course he did, because they deserve it.

Whether you enjoy the niceties or not, Liverpool, Tottenham and the Champions League have rarely looked in ruder health. Let's enjoy it while we can.

Jurgen Klopp accepted he would be judged on trophies despite insisting he will never forget Liverpool's "brilliant season".

Liverpool have a chance to win their first piece of silverware under Klopp when they face Tottenham in the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino defended Klopp, saying the German should not be judged for losing two Champions League deciders.

While he agreed with Pochettino, Klopp said he knew why he would be judged based on trophies.

"I think Poch is right but that's not important," he said, via The Guardian.

"The thing is, you – the outside world – it is your right to judge us by what we win and what we don't win.

"Look back in 20 years and nobody will talk about our brilliant season unless another team comes close to 97 points but for me, as a person, it will stay forever.

"That is probably what Poch is like as well but the outside world is like this and we have to accept that. To judge a coach by what he is winning is a silly thing because we all have different circumstances. We all have different teams, different clubs. We have to fight with or against different things."

Klopp has already lost three finals since taking charge of Liverpool in October 2015, including last year's European decider.

But the former Borussia Dortmund boss said there was more to judge coaches on than just silverware.

"Coaches, most of us, judge each other not on trophies. And not because most of us don't win but because we know about the job," Klopp said.

"I don't say [Manchester City manager] Pep Guardiola is the best – which is what I really think – because he constantly wins the league he's in.

"It's because of the football they play and the things he's doing."

Hugo Lloris hopes to help Tottenham "stamp" their name in Champions League history as he aims to lift a major trophy for a second successive year.

Having already captained France to glory at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Lloris can complete an impressive double with victory over Liverpool on Saturday in Madrid.

Spurs produced a stunning comeback to squeeze past Ajax on away goals and set up an all-English final in Europe's premier club competition, with their goalkeeper honoured to be leading the side out at the Wanda Metropolitano.

"First of all, it's a privilege to be part of this successful team," Lloris said at a pre-match press conference.

"To win the World Cup was a massive achievement and it would not be possible without the help of my team-mates, and it's the case for the Champions League final.

"I feel like someone with a lot of privilege, but the most difficult thing is ahead of us - the game tomorrow.

"We want to put everything possible in to win it and to put a stamp on Champions League history."

Together.#UCLfinal #COYS pic.twitter.com/B3MCQzAEPw

— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 31, 2019

Lloris highlighted the comeback win over Ajax, when they were 2-0 down at half-time in the second leg, as the best moment of his Spurs career - but hopes he can top that moment this weekend.

"The best example [of togetherness] was in Amsterdam after the game. This moment was one of the best moments in our Spurs career," the 32-year-old said.

"Obviously we want a better moment tomorrow after the game. As a professional athlete, I think it's important to enjoy the way you work."

Midfielder Harry Winks, meanwhile, believes Spurs' maiden appearance in the final is a testament to how far the club has progressed under Mauricio Pochettino.

"The occasion is massive, not only for everyone involved but also for the club and the fans," the England international told the media.

"It shows just how far Tottenham has come as a club. It's going to be a real special night for everyone involved and quite emotional for everybody."

Mauricio Pochettino insists Jurgen Klopp should be praised for having reached three Champions League finals, not criticised for losing the previous two.

Pochettino's Tottenham take on Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday in the first all-English showdown in the final of Europe's elite competition since Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties in 2008.

Klopp's side reached the final last season, losing 3-1 to Real Madrid, with the German also having been beaten when he guided Borussia Dortmund to European club football's biggest game of the 2012-13 campaign.

Klopp also lost the Europa League final to Sevilla in his first term in charge of the Reds, but Pochettino thinks his opposite number deserves far more credit for simply reaching this stage.

"Jurgen is a very successful manager, he's great, he's always happy, he's optimistic, he's spontaneous, he's natural," Pochettino told a news conference in Madrid.

"I think the people judge because you lose the finals; for me, you need to judge that it's the third time arriving at the final. That is the most difficult thing and then a lot of circumstances will be decisive. You need to trust that the universe conspired, and you lift the trophy.

"To arrive in a third final of the Champions League is… 'chapeau'. I admire him a lot. We all want to win, we need to feel that adrenaline, but to get to the final of the Champions League, that journey is the most important thing. To arrive here is the most difficult thing."

Pochettino thinks Spurs' chances of winning the competition for the first time in their history could depend on whether his players are able to shake off the pressure of the occasion.

"You cannot prepare a friendly game like [you prepare for] a final of the Champions League," he said. "When there are one billion watching you in a final, the most important thing is freedom.

"When you are seven, eight, nine [years old] and you play with freedom, the key is not to think that one billion people are watching you. That is going to be the key."

Jurgen Klopp has dismissed talk of him being plagued by back luck as Liverpool prepare to face Tottenham in his third Champions League final.

Since his domestic double at Borussia Dortmund in 2012, Klopp has been the runner-up in two Champions Leagues, the Europa League, the League Cup and two DFB-Pokals.

The Liverpool manager's last six finals have ended in defeat, but the German is not concerned about that record ahead of the showdown with Tottenham in Madrid on Saturday.

"If I would be the reason for losing six finals in a row, then everybody needs to worry really," he said at a press conference on the eve of the all-Premier League showdown.

"So if that's not the case then we always have to have a chance and that's how we see it actually,

B O B B Y  pic.twitter.com/6Azykl1pSz

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 31, 2019

"Since 2012, apart from 2017, I was with my team every year in the final. So we came there sometimes with luck in some moments, but most of the time because we had to go there, so I am probably in the moment world-record holder in the last seven years at least in winning semi-finals.

"I'm a normal human being, so if I would sit in the room and think it's all about me, I'm the reason, if I would see myself as a 'loser' or whatever, then we all would have a problem, but I don't see it like this."

He added: "I think there can be moments that are lucky and unlucky and in the few finals I was part of we were never on the lucky side, it's true, but I cannot change that."

 

Mauricio Pochettino refused to reveal whether Tottenham striker Harry Kane will start the Champions League final.

Kane has not played since he was injured against Manchester City late in the first leg of the quarter-final on April 9.

The England captain has trained ahead of Spurs facing Liverpool in Madrid on Saturday, but Pochettino will make a late call over whether Kane plays from the outset.

"We have one training session now and then we are going to decide," Pochettino told a news conference.

Lucas Moura's hat-trick against Ajax in the semi-finals completed a stunning comeback for Spurs, who are in their first Champions League final.

But the Brazil international could be the man to make way for Kane should the striker be deemed fit enough to lead the line for Spurs.

And Pochettino accepts it will be a difficult decision to leave out Kane or, alternatively, one of the other players who helped overcome Ajax in such dramatic circumstances.

"It's normal you are asking me, it's difficult for you to be in my place or different coaches, it's normal, it's not easy," Pochettino added.

"Making a decision will not be easy, the last games we played, the quarters and semis, the last 16, every game you need to take a decision.

"Tomorrow is another decision, for sure we have all the information, every single detail, we take the best decision to win. Like always it's painful in football you can only use 11 players it's the most painful situation.

"From the first moment [of a career] when you play with seven, then go to 11, you know your team-mates who are in the training may not play.

"For me, respect must be massive for the players who are selected and we want to show that. Tough decisions are painful but it's part of my job to pick the starting XI and to try to win the game."

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson both picked out Tottenham forward Lucas Moura as a major threat to Liverpool's bid for Champions League glory in Madrid.

In the absence of injured talisman Harry Kane, Lucas was the hero in the semi-finals for Mauricio Pochettino's side, scoring a hat-trick to overcome Ajax on away goals after Spurs had been 2-0 down at half-time in the second leg of the tie.

Kane may be fit to return for the final, with Mauricio Pochettino unwilling to disclose whether or not he will bring the striker back into the side that spectacularly battled back against Ajax.

Alexander-Arnold has also seen plenty of Lucas the Premier League but, while impressed by the forward, the England international did not want to focus too much on individuals ahead of the clash.

"[Lucas] Moura's at the top of the list in terms of their best players," he said at a pre-match press conference.

"We're used to how he plays and how Tottenham play as a team. It's not about us singling out players. As a team they've showed their quality."

Fellow full-back Robertson agreed with his team-mate: "Lucas was the hero at Ajax. He's a fantastic player with fantastic qualities. We've come up against him before and it's all about trying to deal with that."

One final #UCLfinal training session

Watch the Reds LIVE at Estadio Metropolitano. https://t.co/g111DmCphv

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 31, 2019

Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the 2018 final but are favourites to lift the trophy on Saturday, though Robertson is not taking anything for granted.

"I don't think they [Tottenham] are underdogs. The games we've had in the Premier League against them are the toughest we've played," the Scotland captain said.

"They can cause us problems, but we can cause them problems too - as with any team. It's about who shows up better on the day."

Alexander-Arnold revealed Liverpool's plan for the final is to look to take the initiative from the off, allowing them to nullify Spurs' best qualities.

"We play with a certain style and we'll try not to change that for any team. If we sit back and let them get on top of us, that's when they're at their best," he said.

"We need to be on top and in their half; that will work for us tomorrow. Whatever happens, we'll try to play our way."

Liverpool have made a habit of reaching European finals in recent years, including losing to Sevilla in the 2016 Europa League final, and Robertson is keen to use their previous experiences as a positive, despite the results.

"A lot of us played in Kiev last season who can use that experience [of losing] and deal with the pressure," the defender added. "We can't focus on Kiev or Basel. If we did, we'd struggle all the time."

Liverpool are not favourites against Tottenham in the Champions League final, according to manager Jurgen Klopp.

Spurs are widely perceived to be underdogs for Saturday's clash, with Liverpool having finished 26 points better off in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino has led Tottenham to their first European Cup/Champions League final while Liverpool are bidding for their sixth crown, although they have not won any silverware under Klopp.

The second all-English European final of the season will be played in Madrid and Klopp does not feel either side should be considered the favourites.

"If I thought Tottenham had an advantage I would be mad," Klopp told a news conference on Friday.

"I know people say we are the favourites because we have more points in the league.

"But if you saw our games against Tottenham this season, it was only 2-1. There's no advantage before the game.”

Last year's final in Kiev saw Liverpool lose to Real Madrid, with Loris Karius making two poor errors and Mohamed Salah being substituted with a shoulder injury after a clash with Sergio Ramos.

Klopp himself also has a poor record in finals, suffering defeats in his last six spanning his time on Merseyside and at previous club Borussia Dortmund.

"All the circumstances were different [in the finals I've been in], the teams were different," Klopp added. "If I were the reason for losing six finals then everyone needs to worry. Last year was a world-class goal [by Gareth Bale] and two strange goals we normally don’t concede.

"We're a year older. Players like Trent [Alexander-Arnold] have 50 more games in their legs. The boys performed in the final [last year]. It was not like we didn't have many chances.

"Last year we surprised ourselves a little that we were in the final. We were not as consistent as we are now.

"We have two proper football teams in the final. I respect a lot what Poch did.

"He had a very talented group when he came here. How they have improved has been really impressive. It's a real football final – both have to deal with that."

 

Liverpool are not in danger of losing in-form forward Sadio Mane to Real Madrid despite apparent interest from the Spanish giants, former Reds star Danny Murphy believes.

Mane, 27, has enjoyed comfortably his best season in senior football, scoring 22 times in the Premier League to finish joint top-scorer in the division with team-mate Mohamed Salah and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Senegal international has been a revelation ever since signing from Southampton in 2016, going on to form a formidable attacking trident with Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Mane also chipped in with four goals to help Liverpool reach the Champions League final, which the Reds will contest against Tottenham in Madrid on Saturday.

The Spanish capital could be where Mane plays his football permanently next season if reports of Los Blancos' interest is genuine, though Murphy does not think fans need to worry, particularly if they become European champions for a sixth time.

Murphy told Omnisport: "I don't think they are in danger of losing him and, to be honest, I think he's happy.

"He's loved, he's scoring, competing for trophies. I know there's been links with Madrid, but I just don't see him going or wanting to leave where he is, where he is doing so much good and playing so well and is loved.

"Never say never with anybody, but, at the moment in terms of what he's done this season, would he be a bigger miss than [Philippe] Coutinho? Yes, he would, because his numbers are bigger, he's more productive and scores more goals. He's more of a threat.

"He's been brilliant this season. He really has moved on again from last season. He's stood up and been counted when so many people probably didn't expect him to compare with the likes of Salah in terms of his goalscoring exploits.

"Ideally, if you win, it's easier to keep a player when you're champions of Europe, I get that. Why would you want to leave?

"But I just don't think any of them are in that space at the moment, things are so good. Everyone's playing so well and there's a nice togetherness, so I don't see that being a problem, but of course it would help if they won [the Champions League]."

Spurs defied the odds in reaching the Champions League final, particularly in their dramatic ties with Manchester City and Ajax – a last-gasp Lucas Moura goal securing a three-goal comeback against the latter.

Son Heung-min, Lucas and the fit-again Harry Kane have all impressed in the competition, though Murphy is adamant Liverpool do not need to be hugely worried about Spurs.

"I think it's more the other way around," Murphy, also an ex-Spurs player, said. "I think for Liverpool, if they carry on playing with the same intensity, momentum and confidence that they have been, Tottenham will be more worried about Liverpool than Liverpool will be about Tottenham.

"Liverpool have beaten Tottenham a lot over the last few years. They've only lost once to them in the last six or seven years, which is not a great record when you when you look at it.

"Liverpool won't be doing anything other than going into the game with the same confidence – full-backs flying forward, the three forward men will be interchanging, causing problems, running in behind, pressing.

"You'll have the three midfielders who will all just get about the pitch, they know how to condense space and how to press, when to press – they're a well-oiled machine, Liverpool.

"So, Liverpool won't be too worried about where they stop Tottenham. I mean of course there's some players you have to get close to at times, but I think with [Virgil] Van Dijk at the back leading them and with how calm and assured he is, it's not Liverpool who'll be worried, it's Tottenham."
 

Murphy was talking to Omnisport on behalf of Greene King's Summer of Sport campaign, which is encouraging people to watch more sport ahead of the Champions League Final, Nations League Finals and Women's World Cup.

Roberto Firmino is fit and ready to start the Champions League final, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed on Friday.

Firmino missed Liverpool's last three games with a groin injury but is available to face Tottenham in Madrid on Saturday.

The Brazil forward, though, is not guaranteed a place in the team for Saturday's showpiece.

Klopp was unwilling to give away any clues over his selection plans, with midfielder Naby Keita the only injury absentee.

"Yes, he's ready," Klopp said at a news conference when asked about Firmino's availability. "He's fit and he has trained. He should be fine.

"If he will start? I'll only tell you if Poch [Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino] gives away his full team!"

With Firmino absent, Divock Origi scored the decisive goal to seal a thrilling semi-final comeback against Barcelona earlier this month.

The Belgium striker had given the Reds an early lead in the second leg at Anfield before converting Trent Alexander-Arnold's clever corner to seal a 4-3 aggregate triumph.

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