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The Lesson Liverpool Must Learn From The Last Two Games Against Spurs

The Champions League final will be played at a neutral venue, with pressure ramped up to the maximum, but despite that, the two games between Liverpool and Spurs this season do offer some clues about the potential outcome:

Tottenham V Liverpool (Wembley)

This was a strange game in a lot of ways. Spurs went into the game to press extremely high and put the Reds under pressure. However, Jurgen Klopp opted to exploit Pochettino’s intense pressing by playing long balls to the flanks.

With Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose playing high up, it meant both Mo Salah and Sadio Mane had a lot of joy getting in behind on both sides, especially as Tottenham opted to start with a diamond in midfield.

Liverpool were far more dominant than pundits predicted because of this tactical ploy. It must be said, though, that Spurs did not help themselves on the day by giving the ball away extremely cheaply allowing the Reds to counter quickly and create numerous clear cut chances.

The 2-1 scoreline belies the Merseyside club’s superiority on the day. Pochettino clearly learned a lot from the performance considering how he set up in the return fixture.

Liverpool V Tottenham (Anfield)

What was most notable about this game was Pochettino’s penchant for changing his formation throughout the 90 minutes. The Argentine is superb at adapting his tactics on the fly, and the change in momentum between the first and second half in this game is a clear demonstration of that.

To prevent them being exploited on the counter-attack like they had been at Wembley, Pochettino opted to go with a back three, in order to keep tabs on Salah, Firmino and Salah.

However, the decision to switch formation caused another problem for Spurs. Liverpool’s main creative outlets have been the fullbacks all season and Klopp used them to great effect in the first half.

With Tottenham only playing wingbacks, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold were able to overlap and create overloads constantly on the flanks. A cross-field pass from Trent to Robertson led to the Scotland captain crossing in for the opening goal for Firmino.

In the second half, a switch to four at the back, allowed Spurs to wrestle back control of the match. Pushing his wingers high, Pochettino pinned Liverpool’s fullbacks back and kept the home side penned in.

The Reds conceded in the second half and only an own goal allowed them to secure the three points. It’s a lesson that Klopp will need to take on board for tomorrow’s game. He will have to work out how to free up the fullbacks if Tottenham utilise the same approach in Madrid.

If he doesn’t find a solution, Liverpool could lose their major creative outlets for the front three, who could get very isolated, like last year’s Champions League final. Klopp, like Pochettino, will need to come up with a few tricks of his own tomorrow night.