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Tottenham v Liverpool - What this season's Premier League meetings have taught us about what to expect from the Champions League final

Ahead of Saturday's all-English Champions League final between Tottenham and Liverpool, BTSport.com have looked back at this season's domestic meetings between the two sides.

The greatest season in Champions League history has reached a climax. Following two sensational semi-final comebacks, Liverpool and Tottenham have emerged as the final two teams standing.

For the first time since 2008, the Champions League final will be an all-English affair and for the first time since Chelsea in 2012, the trophy will be won by a Premier League team.

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Liverpool and Spurs have not met in European competition since the 1973 UEFA Cup semi-finals but the two domestic rivals now contest the continent’s greatest prize on foreign soil – at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

But can we glean anything from their two Premier League clashes this season? And what will Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp have learned from those matches? BTSport.com have taken a closer look ahead of Saturday’s final.

The two sides locked horns for the first time this campaign way back in September with Liverpool emerging from Wembley victorious.

The 2-1 win made it five from five to begin the season and saw the Reds go joint-top on points with Chelsea in the embryonic  table.

While Erik Lamela’s goal in stoppage time halved the deficit, in truth it was a comfortable victory for Liverpool and Klopp reflected post-match on “a performance that was better than the result”.

His side had arrived in Wembley in fine fettle. The front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah had struck seven times between them in their opening four matches.

Behind them a reinforced Liverpool backline with Alisson in goal and Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson in defence gave Liverpool a newfound solidity. Suddenly they looked like title contenders.

The North Londoners arrived in a more dishevelled state. Confidence gained from what felt like a landmark 3-0 win at Old Trafford was undone by a 2-1 defeat at Watford.

A Spurs squad filled with players who went deep into the World Cup were suffering Russian hangovers from the heady heights of the summer and in Hugo Lloris’ case, suffering from an actual hangover.

The Tottenham captain was caught drink-driving a fortnight before and Pochettino opted to drop his first-choice goalkeeper for the defeat to Watford and for the visit of Liverpool.

It was a decision that proved costly. Lloris’ replacement Michel Vorm was targeted relentlessly by the visitor’s front three as the Reds fired 10 shots on goal during the match.

The hosts enjoyed possession during the early stages but their passes lacked the pace required to threaten the visitors. Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele and Harry Winks formed a workman-like midfield that was short on creativity behind Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane.

In contrast, Liverpool attacked with pace and intent. Mane had the ball in the net when he swept in James Milner’s cross only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.

In the 39th minute, Milner’s corner was intentionally swung close to Vorm. The Spurs keeper came and failed to collect, Dier helped the ball clear but only as far as Georginio Wijnaldum.

The Dutchman rose brilliantly to nod a looping header between Kieran Trippier and Vorm, who clawed the ball back but not before it had crossed the goal line.

Tottenham switched to a back three at half time but it did little to change the flow of the game. Robertson struck the bar with an over-hit cross before Moura’s shot cannoned off the post against the run of play.

And four minutes later the deputising goalkeeper's frailties were exposed again when Mane’s cross caused chaos between Jan Vertonghen and the former Swansea man, allowing Firmino to smash home from six inches out.

The Brazilian was later withdrawn after suffering an unintentional eye gouge from Vertonghen with captain Jordan Henderson coming on in his place.

Son Heung-min and Lamela’s introduction for Tottenham signalled a renewed attacking intent and in the 93rd minute the latter reduced the deficit when he chested and lashed in from a corner.

There was still time for a penalty shout when Mane felled Son but despite Pochettino’s protestations, Michael Oliver remained unmoved.

In the match that was supposed to be Tottenham’s first in their new stadium, a tired-looking Spurs were outclassed by a Liverpool side that looked equipped for a title challenge.

Fast forward six months and a result in the return fixture that made it seem the Premier League trophy was destined for Merseyside. The scoreline may have been the same but it was far less routine from Liverpool. 

Klopp's outfit were in hot pursuit of the relentless Manchester City, knowing they could ill afford any slip-ups and welcomed Tottenham to an expectant Anfield sitting a point behind the leaders.

For visitors, the reinvigorated Moussa Sissoko played as a defensive midfielder in a 3-5-2 formation, with Kane and Moura selected as strike partners. Liverpool, as they had done nearly all season, played 4-3-3 with their usual star-studded attacking trio leading the way.

The match was frantic from the offset with Salah and Sissoko trading chances in the opening stages. Robertson and Alexander-Arnold were constant threats, getting in behind Tottenham’s own wing backs and it was from the Scotsman’s cross that Firmino was able to nod in to settle Liverpool nerves in the 16th minute.

Alexander-Arnold rifled a half-volley wide of the post before Mane curled just off target. Dele Alli responded with a flash-shot over the bar but the pattern of the match appeared set.

Tottenham were getting overrun. Further chances fell to Van Dijk, Mane and Salah but the home side kept missing the target. And as the Reds poured forward in search of the second, the visitors finally punished the profligacy.

Kane swung a quick free-kick out to Trippier, who this time exposed Robertson. His cross was helped on by Eriksen and lashed past Alisson by Lucas Moura to level the match.

With Liverpool knowing only a win would do, the final 20 minutes were a rollercoaster ride. Alexander-Arnold’s shot was tipped over by Lloris and Van Dijk’s header fell agonisingly onto Firmino’s thigh before the French goalkeeper gratefully gathered.

Yet it was down the other end that Liverpool's titanic centre back’s contribution swung the course of the match back in their favour. Klopp’s men had long since thrown caution to the wind and players had camped up the pitch as they desperately sought a winning goal.

It left them horribly exposed on the counter as Sissoko ran at Van Dijk with Son to his left. The Dutchman ran between the two forwards, denying Sissoko the pass to Son, before forcing a wild effort from the Frenchman that blazed over.

Another counter followed but Alli failed to take advantage, curling clear of Alisson’s bar. And Liverpool made Tottenham pay in stoppage time.

Camped in Spurs' area, Fabinho swung a cross in and Salah peeled away at the back post. The Egyptian headed towards goal and Lloris could only fumble into Toby Alderweireld and the ball rolled agonisingly over the line to secure a dramatic win for the title chasers.

So two games and two Liverpool wins, in addition to their superior finish in the Premier League table, justify last season’s Champions League finalists as favourites to go one better this year.

In both those matches and throughout this season, full backs had a huge say in the pattern of the match. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson for Liverpool were constant thorns in Tottenham’s side.

While Mane, Firmino and Salah get the plaudits, they’ve scored 42 Champions League goals since the start of last season, so many of those goals have been created from the flanks. To a lesser extent, Trippier and Danny Rose have offered Tottenham danger from out wide.

At Wembley and at Anfield, opportunities were created when either side’s full back caught their opposite number out further up the pitch. With so much attacking emphasis placed on Trippier, Rose, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, the final may be decided by who can track back quicker.

In that case it will be the responsibility of whoever plays on the right and left-hand side of midfield for either team to help out their marauding full backs.

At Wembley and at times at Anfield, Tottenham’s midfield were out-worked and overrun by their Liverpool counterparts. That pattern repeating itself could prove decisive in the Spanish capital.

It will be interesting to see what formation Tottenham deploy and, of course, that decision will be largely shaped by the fitness of Kane. If the talismanic forward does play then one of Moura or Son will likely be dropped to accommodate him.

Both can feel hard done by if that’s the case. Moura netted a hat-trick in the semi-final comeback over Ajax and Son scored three times across the two-legged quarter-final win over City.

Should Kane not start then those two are set to play as the front two in what could resemble a 4-2-2 formation. Pochettino will have learned lessons from his side being exposed out wide by Liverpool in a 3-5-2.

It all makes for an intriguing battle at the Wanda Metropolitano between two of Europe’s finest coaches. If their Premier League meetings are anything to go by, then we are in for a fascinating Champions League final.

Read more of BTSport.com's fantastic features ahead of the Champions League final.

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