At long last, the UEFA Champions League final is here and a befitting climax is expected when English clubs, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur go up against each other at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid tonight.
Both the Reds and Spurs have set and broken a number of records as they weathered the storm to make it into the final of the most glamorous club competition.
As we countdown to Saturday’s final, PREMIUM TIMES highlight seven of the interesting facts tied around the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final as served by the Liverpool official website and Opta Stats.
Sadio Mane eyeing multiple records
Indeed, Saturday’s final has African interest in and around it, with Liverpool and Tottenham both parading players from the continent.
One of the African stars, Sadio Mane, may be setting a record if he scores tonight in Madrid.
A goal at Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid would make the Senegal international the first ever Reds player to score in back-to-back finals in the competition.
Mane, who netted in last year’s defeat by Real Madrid in Kiev, would also become only the second Liverpool man to score in multiple European Cup/Champions League finals after Phil Neal, who did it in 1977 and 1984.
Mane is one of only four Africans to score in a European Cup/Champions League final. The others are Rabah Madjer (FC Porto – 1977), Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona – 2006 and 2009) and Didier Drogba (Chelsea – 2012).
Should the No.10 net in Madrid he will become the eighth player to score in more than one Champions League final.
Rare rivals in Europe
While the rivalry between them on the home front is massive, Liverpool and Tottenham have met just once before in Europe in the 1972-73 UEFA Cup semi-final.
The Reds won 1-0 at Anfield thanks to Alec Lindsay’s effort, and although Martin Peters scored twice for Spurs in the return leg, a Steve Heighway strike sent Liverpool through on away goals.
Liverpool went on to lift the trophy.
Spurs hoping to make the exclusive list
It has been another fantastic season for Tottenham albeit like always there is still nothing to show for their efforts in terms of silverware.
However, a victory for Tottenham on Saturday would see them become the 23rd different team to lift the trophy and the 14th in the Champions League era.
The last team to win the cup for the first time was Chelsea in 2012.
Records favour Reds
Liverpool won both of their league meetings with Spurs this season. In total, they’ve met at least three times in all competitions in 13 previous campaigns – Liverpool have only beaten Spurs three times in a single season in one of those (1985-86 – four times).
The only previous meeting between Liverpool and Tottenham in a major final was in the 1982 English League Cup final, with the Reds coming from behind to win 3-1 after extra-time.
Big day for Pochettino
While rumours are rife that he is heading for a challenge elsewhere, Mauricio Pochettino could become the third Argentinian manager to lift the trophy after Luis Carniglia (twice with Real Madrid) and Helenio Herrera (twice with Inter Milan) if his players deliver against Liverpool.
Pochettino suffered his first defeat as Spurs manager against Liverpool in August 2014 (3-0 at White Hart Lane). He has won only three of 14 meetings, drawing four and losing seven.
Klopp and his ‘final curse’
In nine matches against Tottenham Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has lost once, with four victories and four draws.
More than ever, he needs a victory on Saturday to actually prove that he is not a cursed coach as far as final games are concerned.
This is Klopp’s third major European final with Liverpool and he has lost the first two.
In all, Klopp has reached his third Champions League final, on the losing side with the Reds last season and with Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
The only manager to lose three successive final appearances in the European Cup/Champions League is Marcello Lippi (1997, 1998 and 2003 with Juventus
England set to overtake Italy
This is only the second all-English European Cup final (Manchester United v Chelsea in 2008 the other) and only the third in all European competition (the other was the 1972 UEFA Cup final between Tottenham and Wolves)
Whoever wins will provide England with their 13th victory in this competition, moving them above Italy on 12 with only Spain (18) having more.