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Is the Tottenham v Liverpool final ushering in a golden age of Premier League dominance in the Champions League?

Tottenham take on Liverpool in just the second all-English Champions League final. With the Reds reaching the showpiece for the second successive season, could this be the start of a new era of continental control for Premier League sides?

For the first time in 10 years there were four Premier League teams in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Two have made it all the way through to the final, with Tottenham facing Liverpool exclusively live on BT Sport this Saturday, 1 June.

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This will be the best connected final yet, with viewers able to watch in more ways than ever before, and the all-English affair could be the start of a new trend.

From 1977 to 1985 an English team was in all but one final and from 2005 to 2012, the Internazionale v Bayern Munich finale was the only without Premier League representation.

With Jurgen Klopp’s men preparing to walk out in the tournament climax for a second season in a row, and the fact they are facing fellow countrymen in just the second all-English Champions League final – are we about to enter a third golden age?

As well as broadcasting Saturday’s match, BT Sport is showing Europe’s premier cup competition for at least the next two seasons so will be your home to witness the answer to that question unfold.

If we turn the clock back to 25 May 1977, Bob Paisley’s Liverpool were just the third English team to reach a European Cup final in its 21 years of existence, when they walked out at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Manchester United had lifted the trophy in 1968 and Leeds United suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich two years prior to the fixture that started a period of European glory for English sides.

The UEFA Cup had been a happy hunting ground for English outfits, Spurs beat Wolves in the first ever final in 1972 and the Reds lifted it twice before making it to their first European Cup showpiece.

In fact, the Merseysiders were holders of the continent’s secondary cup competition having seen off Club Brugge the previous season and had beaten Rome opponents, Borussia Mönchengladbach, in the 1973 UEFA Cup final.

But it was in the Italian capital that Liverpool fans would fall in love with European football, as they saw Emlyn Hughes loft the continent’s most coveted prize high into the night’s sky.

That year they also defended the First Division title, their 10th overall, and were embarking on an era of domestic authority – winning 10 championships in 14 years.

Season Match Venue
1976-77 Liverpool 3-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach Stadio Olimpico, Rome
1977-78 Liverpool 1-0 Club Brugge Wembley Stadium, London
1978-79 Nottingham Forest 1-0 Malmö FF Olympiastadion, Munich
1979-80 Nottingham Forest 1-0 Hamburg Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid
1980-81 Liverpool 1-0 Real Madrid Parc des Princes, Paris
1981-82 Aston Villa 1-0 Bayern Munich De Kuip, Rotterdam
1982-83 Hamburg 1-0 Juventus Olympic Stadium, Athens
1983-84 Liverpool 1-1 Roma (4-2 on penalties) Stadio Olimpico, Rome
1984-85 Juventus 1-0 Liverpool Heysel Stadium, Brussels

The following year they showed they were not just a titan at home but now also on the road as they retained the European Cup at Wembley. Much like their top flight performances, the club would regularly flex its muscles on the continent as they lifted the ‘big-eared’ cup four times in eight years from 1977 to 1984.

What makes these triumphs more spectacular is that they had to compete against one of the best teams in Europe both domestically and in Europe, in the shape of Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest.

As Kenny Dalglish’s solitary goal helped Liverpool retain their crown in 1978, Forest lifted the one and only league English title in their history. In one of football’s true fairy tales, the club were only promoted from the second division 12 months earlier but would become a true power house over the coming years.

So much so, that they would go on to match the Reds’ haul with back-to-back European Cups of their own in 1979 and 1980, defeating Malmo FF and Hamburg respectively.

Paisley became the first manager to win the competition three times a year later, with a third English team in Aston Villa triumphing in 1982, sandwiched by Liverpool’s fourth in 1984.

The years of dominance would come to a tragic end in 1985 however, as the Heysel disaster that saw 39 people lose their lives before kick off in Liverpool’s defeat to Juventus, saw English clubs banned from European football for five years by UEFA.

The ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ not only reignited Liverpool’s love affair with the competition, now branded the Champions League, but also that of English football more widely.

Rafa Benitez’s side joined Chelsea, Arsenal and bitter rivals Man Utd as staples of the knockout rounds in the late 2000s, as Premier League battles took centre stage deep into the competition.

Inspired by Steven Gerrard, the Reds made it five in 2005 as they produced one of the competition’s most storied comebacks in a remarkable second half. The result shocked European heavyweights Milan, but the Italians would exact revenge two years later in Athens.

Those fixtures were either side of Arsenal’s first ever Champions League final, which ultimately ended in defeat against a Barcelona side at the beginning of their unprecedented success in Spain and Europe.

Gunners’ goalkeeper Jens Lehmann made history for all the wrong reasons, as he become the first player sent off in the final of the continent’s premier cup competition.

Season Match Venue
2004-05 Liverpool 3-3 Milan (3-2 on penalties) Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul
2005-06 Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal Stade de France, Saint-Denis
2006-07 Milan 2-1 Liverpool Olympic Stadium, Athens
2007-08 Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (6-5 on penalties) Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
2008-09 Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United Stadio Olimpico, Rome
2009-10 Internazionale 2-0 Bayern Munich Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid
2010-11 Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United Wembley Stadium, London
2011-12 Chelsea 1-1 Bayern Munich (4-3 on penalties) Allianz Arena, Munich

Under Pep Guardiola’s guidance and inspired by Lionel Messi, Barcelona would also become the scourge of United as they reigned supreme in the 2009 and 2011 final meetings between the sides.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges won just one of the three finals they competed in across four years, but picked up three Premier League titles in that time to shows how stiff the competition was for any of the traditional ‘top four’ on both fronts.

The Red Devils’ glory came in the first all-English European Cup or Champions League final, where they dealt penalty heartbreak to John Terry’s Chelsea on a rainy night in Moscow.

Several mainstays of the early Roman Abramovich years were finally able get their hands on the hallowed trophy when they defied the odds to beat Bayern Munich in their own ground in 2012 however.

Along with Terry, who was suspended for the final, the likes of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech finally lifted the cup that has most wanted.

It was at that stage the Premier League cycle would seemingly come to an end and the might of La Liga would take over. Either Real Madrid or Barcelona have won the last five tournaments, with fellow Spanish side Atletico Madrid twice beaten finalists in that time too.

But was Liverpool’s journey to Kiev the start of a new period of sustained success for clubs from these shores?

The Premier League was regularly labelled the best league in the world in the intervening years, but perhaps that was more for drama and unpredictability than pure quality. Leicester City’s heroic title charge was certainly one of the most romantic storylines of recent years, but it was also an indicator of where the so-called ‘top six’ were.

That is no longer the case.

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea set new records for the most league wins in a season and the longest winning run on their way to the title in 2017. Guardiola’s Manchester City have surpassed even that, posting the two highest points totals English football has even seen.

The fact Liverpool recorded the third highest and still failed to win the title shows just how ridiculously strong the Premier League’s elite clubs are right now. You just have to look to the Europa League final to see that – two English teams in Chelsea and Arsenal also competed in that.

While it is of course difficult and often foolish to try and predict the future, the quality the English teams have shown in Europe over the last two years does suggest we could be moving back towards a period of Premier League teams regularly challenging at least for Champions League glory.

With the financial might of the league, not to mention some of the best players and managers in world football calling England home, we really could be on the cusp of some more famous days kick-started by either Tottenham or Liverpool raising the cup high on Saturday night.

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