One Thomas Cook flight full of Tottenham Hotspur fans was due to depart London early morning ready for their showdown with Liverpool in the Champions League final later that day. The flight was then rescheduled and due to land just 45 mins before kick-off.
Spurs fans may have wished it was due to land two minutes after kick-off after seeing their side concede an early contentious penalty.
However, it was not the penalty itself that many Spurs fans will have been so demoralised by. Neutrals will have been disheartened by both teams’ performances. Arguably, Spurs were the better side on the night and still sank to two Liverpool goals on a warm and clammy evening that displayed a serious lack of quality. Not a great advert for the Premier League and Athletic Madrid fans will have watched on without envy at the show put on in their Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Some Stand-Out Poor Performers
It was hard to pick a man of the match on the night and instead we will turn our attention to some of the worst performances from both teams. Not that Liverpool players or fans will care now that they are crowned European Champions once again and especially after last year’s final defeat to Real Madrid.
The reasons for such a poor showing may have been due to nerves and the occasion, a lack of fitness for some and many are pointing to the sticky humidity that was relentless inside the stadium, sapping players of energy. The latter is a rather poor excuse considering many European teams play high-tempo football in these conditions all season long.
Harry Kane may have fooled Pochettino that he was fit to play, but he certainly did not fool any pundits or fans on the night. He was left with a couple of half chances and did not create any openings for his teammates. His link-up play with Ali was nowhere to be seen and he got bullied by the Liverpool defence.
Usually the engine room of Liverpool’s team and a man that was in there to maintain possession – he did neither. His energy was lacking, and he had only made around 30% of the passes that his opposite number Harry Winks made in the first half. His late attempt at goal bouncing towards the corner flag summed up his display.
The man of the moment at Anfield was nowhere to be seen either and this did not go unnoticed by Klopp who swapped him in the second half. Wijnaldum had a reputation at Newcastle for not performing away from home, which appears to have continued into his Liverpool days.
Another ex-Newcastle man who had a night to forget was Moussa Sissoko. Although the debate about the ref’s and VAR’s decision to award the penalty for his handball within the first minute may be contested between fans, his other 89 minutes were not much better. The centre of the park housed too many bad performances to make this an interesting and exciting game.
So, How Did Liverpool Do It?
Liverpool took the half chances they created. No team really created many exceptional chances, but Liverpool did take the ones that presented themselves. The penalty that was given inside a minute will certainly have calmed their nerves and reduced their need to take more risks too. At the end of the night, they were just the better of two poor performances, but a special mention should go towards Van Dijk who conquered almost every duel with Spur’s central target man, Harry Kane.