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Can Reds exorcise Euro demons? Get Champions League Final tips

Leigh Copson 30 May 2019
Who will lift the Champions League trophy? (credit:Alexander Gusev/Zuma Press/PA Images)

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur collide in the Champions League Final on June 1, and ahead of this huge all-English showdown in Madrid our resident writers, Ben Darvill and Leigh Copson, have been discussing how final will unfold.

READ MORE: How Liverpool & Tottenham made it to the Champions League Final.

The Reds made it this far a year ago only to fall to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid, so can they go one better and finally end Jurgen Klopp’s miserable run of form in major cup finals. Or can Tottenham sprung another surprise to finally give Mauricio Pochettino some silverware to go along with the plaudits he has received during his time in North London? answers those questions…

Match Bet

Ben: Liverpool have looked superb this year and, perhaps if it was any other season, they would be preparing for the Champions League final with the Premier League trophy safely stowed away somewhere in Anfield. However, they were beaten by a Manchester City side that were able to pick up just one more point than them across 38 games in a supremely entertaining season. This is one of many reasons why I think the Reds will win this one. There is something incredibly unjust about Jugren Klopp’s men picking up 97 points and only losing once and, amazingly, they actually lost far more games across their Champions League campaign than in their domestic one, with three defeats in the group-stages and a loss to Barcelona in the first-leg of their semi-final. Clearly, either Liverpool are living a charmed life in Europe, or it is just written that they will win the 2018/19 edition of the competition, and with the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino likely to start, we think they will prove too much for Spurs.

Leigh: I have to agree with my colleague and back Liverpool to take the honours here. I know that there will be some people who are nervous about backing the Reds due to manager Jurgen Klopp’s underwhelming record in big cup finals, but I do believe that he and his team are about to turn the corner and go from contenders to champions. Yes it was heart-breaking for them to miss out on the Premier League title, but there is certainly no shame in racking up 97 points in a season – most years that would have earned them the title! But this is a team that came back from the dead in spectacular fashion to beat Barcelona in the semi-finals and they have won both of their meetings with Tottenham this season. In fact, the Reds have lost to Spurs only once since Klopp arrived on Merseyside, so history certainly favours them here. But unlike Ben I want a bigger price for backing Liverpool and for me the way to go is backing both teams to score too. The Reds’ defence has improved dramatically over the past 12 months, but Spurs scored in both of their Premier League meetings with Klopp’s side this season and both teams have now netted in each of the last four encounters. If you want to look back further, seven of the nine meetings since Klopp became Liverpool boss have seen both nets bulge, so history could well repeat itself in Madrid as the Reds claim the trophy.

Goalscorer Bet

Ben: What a season Sadio Mane has had. 22 goals scored in the league means he ended the season as shared winner of the Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following a fantastic year of attacking football. Mane in particular has impressed in recent weeks after scoring six goals in his last eight games in all competitions, while he was tasked with providing Liverpool’s main-attacking threat against Barcelona at Anfield with Salah and Firmino both missing out. Mane, like both Aubameyang and Salah, is perfectly suited to the counter-attacking style of the Premier League, and if they are able to isolate a centre-half in particular, there is usually only one winner, with Mane’s lightning speed and intelligent positioning allowing him to find the best position to exploit. Unlike some other forwards that have recently played in the Premier League, Mane pairs his pace with an ability to hit the back of the net, and with Tottenham not boasting the quickest of backlines, we think Mane will get a chance to be the main man once again in the final. 

Leigh: Again, I have to agree with my colleague when it comes to picking a goalscorer. Mohamed Salah is the star man when it comes to this Liverpool strikeforce, but it cannot be understated just how important Sadio Mane is. When Salah suffered a scoring drought it was the Senegalese ace who picked up the slack and his brace in the season-ending win over Wolves meant he finished joint top of the Premier League scoring charts with a career-best 22 goals. He has chipped in with a few strikes during this competition too, including a couple of very important strikes in the win at Bayern Munich. Salah will always be a very tempting selection for any Liverpool match, but just like Ben I believe Mane is the man to back for the Champions League Final.

Banker Bet

Ben: While this is a match in which Liverpool bring the majority of the attacking talent to the party, Tottenham cannot be accused of not arriving well prepared. Son Heung-Min has proved he is one of the most exciting and dangerous forwards in world football right now, while Lucas Moura netted a hat-trick to down Ajax in the semi-final as he carried Spurs to the last two, while if Harry Kane is fit, he is one of, if not the best out-and-out striker in football at the moment, with Christian Eriksen continuing to provide intelligence and foresight from midfield. For Liverpool, Mane, Salah and Firmino will likely reprise their starting roles, and with James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho likely to be deployed behind them, the front-three are given a real licence to attack, knowing that the men behind them will put in the hard-graft as they rarely stop running.  With this in mind, we think there will be goals, with the two sides scoring a combined 156 goals this year, meaning this could become a case of the two trying to outscore one-another. 

Leigh: Just like Ben I am expecting to see a few goals in this one and Over 2.5 Total Goals screams ‘banker’ to me. It was a winning bet on both of the Premier League meetings between these two clubs this season and if you want to look further back it has been a successful punt on five of the last six encounters. If that is not enough to persuade you then Over 2.5 Total Goals has been a winning bet on five of Liverpool’s last seven games, while it would have also delivered a pay-out had you placed that bet on seven of the Champions League ties they have played en route to the final.

Bold Prediction

Ben: This one is solely predicated on the last two meetings between the pair, with Liverpool winning both matches 2-1. Spurs have not been overly convincing against any of the current top six in the league this year, losing seven of the 10 games they have played, while they lost four times to the top two in the Premier League this season. Tottenham seem to have something of a mental block against the top teams in the Premier League and, while they did beat Manchester City in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final, they held on by their fingernails in the second-leg, and had things been slightly different, we would not be talking about their chances of winning the competition. The Reds meanwhile have impressed massively, with their only loss of the domestic season coming on the road against Manchester City, while they won five of their other nine games against the top six, drawing the other four. With this in mind, we are confident backing a Liverpool win, and with two 2-1 wins against Spurs in the league this year, we think the Reds will notch their third and most important victory over Tottenham by the same scoreline. 

Leigh: Having seen Liverpool already beat Tottenham 2-1 on two occasions this season I could be tempted to join Ben and back the Reds to win by that scoreline once again. However, I believe this could turn out to be a more convincing victory for the Reds. Liverpool have scored three or more goals in four of their last six victories and in this competition they have netted three times away to Bayern Munich, four times away to Porto and four times at home to Barcelona on their way to the final. I see no reason why they cannot be as prolific against a Tottenham team who have managed only one clean sheet in their last eight games and gave up four goals away to Manchester City in the quarter-finals. It would also be rather fitting to see Liverpool win 3-1 – after all, they lost 3-1 to Sevilla in the 2016 Europa League Final and 3-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League Final 12 months ago! It is about time they were on the right end of a 3-1 scoreline in a major final!

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Can Reds exorcise Euro demons? Get Champions League Final tips

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