The first Champions League final to feature two English teams will bring down the curtain on the European club season on Saturday.
More than 350 million people from more than 200 countries are expected to watch Liverpool and Tottenham face off at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.
Liverpool is the favorite. The Reds finished 26 points ahead of Tottenham in the Premier League this season, though Manchester City nipped them for the title by a single point. Spurs finished fourth in the league, which was good enough to qualify for the Champions League next season should they lose the final.
The Reds beat Spurs 2-1 both home and away during the Premier League season.
Pedigree is also on Liverpool’s side. Only AC Milan and Real Madrid have won more European Cups than the Liverpool’s five. The Reds made last year’s final, losing to Real Madrid. Liverpool last lifted the cup in 2005.
Spurs, on the other hand, have not been in a European final of any kind since winning the 1984 UEFA Cup. Tottenham is the first new club to reach the Champions League final since Chelsea in 2008.
The two teams share similar routes to the final. Both barely advanced out of the group stage through a tiebreaker. Both produced dramatic comebacks in their respective semifinal second legs. Liverpool overcame a 3-0 first leg defeat at Barcelona to defeat them 4-0 at Anfield. Spurs trailed Ajax 3-0 on aggregate in the 54th minute of their second leg match before Lucas Moura’s hat trick, the last goal deep in injury time, leveled the tie and put them through on away goals.
Despite his heroics, Moura may have to make way for Harry Kane, Tottenham’s top goal scorer, who says he has recovered from an ankle injury that has sidelined him since April 9.
Spurs have no injury worries while Liverpool will only be missing midfielder Naby Keita.
The winner of the final will earn $21.2 million with the loser taking home $18.9 million. Both clubs have already earned more than $60 million in advancing to the final.
The odds are pretty good that Liverpool and Tottenham will produce a more entertaining match than fellow Premier League sides Chelsea and Arsenal did on Wednesday in the Europa League final.
Even if the score line were to resemble the 4-1 drubbing the Blues put on the Gunners, the atmosphere in Atletico Madrid’s home stadium should be far superior to that of the Olympic Stadium in Baku earlier this week. It’s also doubtful there will be thousands of empty seats as there were in Baku.