History awaits Premier League foes in Champions League showdown

Jonathan Veal 31/05/2019
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Tottenham and Liverpool will be part of history when they meet in the Champions League final.

The Premier League sides battle it out at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on Saturday, three days after Chelsea beat Arsenal in the Europa League showpiece, making it the first time ever that all four European finalists have come from the same country.

It is also just the second all-English European Cup final, 11 years after Manchester United and Chelsea competed in Moscow.

Spurs, however, are in uncharted territory as this is the furthest they have ever gone in the competition, either in its guise as the European Cup, where they reached the semi-final in 1962, or the current Champions League format.

It is perhaps fitting that these two sides meet in the showpiece event, as although it is not quite the battle of the underdogs, both have had to get there the hard way.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men have been 10 minutes or less from going out of the competition on five occasions while Liverpool needed to beat Napoli in the final game to make it out of the group stage.

Then there was the small matter of their respective miraculous semi-final comebacks on consecutive nights.

The Reds appeared dead and buried after the first leg of their last-four clash with Barcelona as they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the Nou Camp.

But a magical night at Anfield saw them produce a stunning 4-0 win to eliminate their Spanish opponents, a success boss Jurgen Klopp hailed as “unbelievable”.

Spurs took inspiration from that 24 hours later as they recovered from a 3-0 aggregate deficit at half-time of their second leg against Ajax.

Lucas Moura inspired the comeback as his hat-trick, which was completed in the fifth minute of injury time, earned an away goals success.

Whichever manager triumphs in Madrid will see them shake off an unwanted tag.

Both Klopp and Pochettino are regarded as being among the best managers in the game for the respective work they have done at their clubs and the eye-catching style of play they deploy.

But neither have been able to back that up with trophies in England as both have fallen short in the big games.

Klopp also has been a beaten finalist in the competition with Borussia Dortmund in 2013 and with his Liverpool side 12 months ago.

Liverpool’s incredible Premier League campaign, where they amassed the third-highest points tally ever but still finished second, will make them favourites against a Spurs side they took six points off.

But April’s match at Anfield will give hope to Pochettino’s side, as even though they lost, they dominated the second half and should have won.

They will be buoyed by the likely return of Harry Kane, setting up a shootout with Mohamed Salah that is just one of the many sub-plots of the game.

Both sides will think their name is written on the trophy given their respective journeys to the final.

But we will find out who is right in what will be a memorable night for English football on Saturday.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris can achieve a unique feat with win in the Champions League final

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In less than a year after lifting the World Cup with France, Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has a chance to achieve a unique feat by following it up with Champions League trophy.

He could become the first player to achieve this while plying trades for a team in the Premier League.

Here are some of the players from the 21st century who have won the Champions League after a World Cup triumph.

2002/03: Brazil/AC Milan – Roque Junior, Dida

Defender Roque Junior and custodian Dida were part of the Brazil squad that won the World Cup in 2002 after defeating Germany in the final. At his peak, Dida was one of the best goalkeepers in the world, with both club and country feeding off his reliability.

The following season, the duo went on to win the Champions League with AC Milan. Dida was the hero in the final in which the Italian side defeated rivals Juventus on penalties.

2006/07: Italy/AC Milan – Filippo Inzaghi, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Massimo Oddo, Alberto Gilardino

Pirlo

Pirlo

The mid 2000s was an era of Italian domination, as exemplified by AC Milan’s control over Europe and Italy’s World Cup win in 2006.

Inzaghi, Pirlo, Gattuso and Nesta formed the core of what was a golden generation for AC Milan and Italy.

They first won the World Cup in 2006 after defeating France in the final following a penalty shootout. In the following season, AC Milan exacted revenge over Liverpool by beating them in what was the replay of the final of the 2004/05 edition.

2010/2011: Spain/ Barcelona – Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, David Villa.

Iniesta

Iniesta

Spain won the World Cup and two Euros between 2008 and 2012. In the same period, Barcelona won two Champions Leagues (2008/09 and 2010/11) with Manchester United staring below them on the podium on both occasions.

Pep Guardiola’s side has often been referred to as one of the best in modern football and the fact that it shared the same core with the Spain team at that time had a lot to do with their success under Vicente Del Bosque.

2018/19: France/Tottenham – Hugo Lloris?

Lloris is the only player from the World Cup winning French squad who will featuring in the Champions League final.

Should the Spurs custodian lift the trophy on Saturday night, he could become the first player to achieve the feat while playing for a Premier League club.

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Champions League Best Ever... Comebacks as Liverpool and Manchester United feature

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Steven Gerrard kisses the Champions League trophy in 2005

The two sides entering the Metropolitano Stadium on June 1 can legitimately be pinned up against some of the great European sides witnessed during the competition’s rich history.

Ahead of this blockbuster encounter between Tottenham and Liverpool we’re running a series on Europe’s elite competition called the ‘Best Ever…’ and on this occasion we’re examining the greatest comebacks to have graced the tournament.

Trimming the list down to five is an enormously tricky task and any one of the five picked hold claim to top spot.

But here is our look at the five best European Cup/Champions League comebacks.

1. LIVERPOOL V AC MILAN 

Champions League Final, 2005

Jerzy Dudek saves miraculous save against Andriy Shevchenko

Jerzy Dudek saves miraculous save against Andriy Shevchenko

For 45 minutes in the 2005 final, AC Milan had completely outclassed Liverpool. Paolo Maldini’s opener and a classy brace from Hernan Crespo sent the Italian giants into the break with a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead.

What followed was the most iconic revival of the competition’s or Liverpool’s history as they scored three goals in six minutes. Steven Gerrard’s superb header in the 54th minute began the fight back.

The way he motioned to the Liverpool fans in the crowd suggested something special was playing out in Istanbul. Vladimir Smicer’s strike from distance two minutes later confirmed it.

Gerrard then won a penalty and though Xabi Alonso’s effort from the spot was initially saved by Dida, he made no mistake from the rebound to draw his side level.

The Reds clung on for the remaining 30 minutes of regulation time and a further half an hour of extra-time before Jerzy Dudek starred in the penalty shootout. The Pole denied Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko to win it for Liverpool.

2. MANCHESTER UNITED V BAYERN MUNICH

Champions League Final, 1999

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's iconic celebration

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s iconic celebration

This comeback is held in such high regard for sheer shock value more than anything else. It was only a one-goal deficit for Sir Alex Ferguson’s incredible 1998-99 Manchester United side to turn around.

But into injury-time in the Champions League final during which they were second-best to Bayern Munich, surely even this never-say-die group of competitors didn’t stand a chance?

David Beckham’s corner in the 91st minute was cleared only as far as Ryan Giggs’ on the edge of the box whose shot was turned into the net by substitute Teddy Sheringham to equalise.

Remarkably, Sheringham got on the end of another Beckham corner moments later, flicking it on to the back post where fellow substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stabbed it home to complete an incredible recovery with virtually the last kick of the game, winning the treble in the process.

3. BARCELONA V PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Round of 16, 2017 

Lionel Messi celebrates

Lionel Messi celebrates

A second-leg revival of this magnitude had never been completed before. After a humiliating 4-0 defeat away to Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona roared back with a 6-1 victory in the second leg of the last-16 tie, winning 6-5 on aggregate.

The amazing scenes at Camp Nou that night produced the iconic image of Lionel Messi towering above adoring fans with his fist raised to the skies in celebration.

The picture splashed front pages the following morning but Neymar was the hero who came to their rescue. Goals from Luis Suarez and Messi sandwiched an own goal by Layvin Kurzawa before Edinson Cavani’s strike seemed to extinguish hopes of a comeback.

With 87 minutes played though, Neymar’s quick-fire brace set up a grandstand finish before Sergi Roberto netted in the fifth minute of injury time to send the home fans into ecstasy.

4. ROMA V BARCELONA 

Quarter-finals, 2018 

Kostas Manolas wheels away after his winner

Kostas Manolas wheels away after his winner

Just a year on from their incredible comeback against PSG, Barcelona were given a taste of their own medicine. At the quarter-finals stage this time, the Catalans secured a 4-1 first-leg victory courtesy of own goals from Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas before Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez got on the scoresheet as well.

Edin Dzeko’s away goal though would prove to be all-important. The Bosnian sparked the comeback in the return leg at the Stadio Olimpico six minutes into proceedings and won the penalty early in the second half that De Rossi converted.

Then, the other own-goal-scorer from the first leg popped up to complete a phenomenal night for the Giallorossi. Manolas’ glancing header at the near post from a corner eight minutes from time put the hosts 3-0 up, levelling the tie at 4-4 on aggregate.

There were a couple of hearts-in-mouths moments at the death but the Italian outfit held on to progress on away goals.

5. DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA V AC MILAN 

Quarter-finals, 2004 

Depor celebrate

Depor celebrate

Deportivo were one of Spain’s top sides 15 years ago but their decline was just beginning and they were dismantled over the course of eight minutes in the first leg of the 2003/04 quarter-finals at the San Siro.

After Walter Pandiani opened the scoring, a brace from Kaka and goals from Andriy Shevchenko and Andrea Pirlo secured a 4-1 win for the hosts.

The return leg in Spain though saw holders Milan stunned. Again, Pandiani opened the scoring before a header from Juan Carlos Valeron and a strike from Albert Luque dragged them level on aggregate heading into the break, set to progress on away goals.

Then, 14 minutes from time, substitute Gonzalez Fran’s deflected effort sealed the victory for the La Liga outfit as they progressed 5-4 on aggregate.

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