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Opinion: Why the Champions League 2018/19 final is pivotal for both Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino

Karan Puar
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
561   //    30 May 2019, 08:01 IST

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool FC - Premier League

All eyes will soon turn to the biggest footballing match of the calendar year with Liverpool taking on Tottenham Hotspur in what is set to be a historic UEFA Champions League final.

Liverpool are aiming to win their first trophy in seven years, while Tottenham are looking to get their hands on the Champions League trophy for the very first time.

There is another context to this story however, with the managers of the two teams in what could be the defining match of their managerial careers.

Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are two of the most highly-rated managers in the world and for good reason. They have taken their respective clubs from difficult positions to the pinnacle of English and European football.

Questions are still being asked of them however, in particular with regard to the lack of silverware in their trophy cabinets.

So, with the biggest prize in club football on offer, the outcome could go a long way in deciding the future of these two managers.


The wait for a trophy

One of the major criticisms leveled at both Klopp and Pochettino is their failure to win any trophies with their clubs.

Klopp has lost three cup finals with Liverpool and has been able to reach two Champions League finals with Merseyside team. They were also pipped to the Premier League title by City this year despite holding a huge gap at one stage.

This has resulted in doubts being raised over the German's ability to guide his team over the finish line.

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Pochettino has continued to downplay the importance of winning domestic trophies as Spurs have struggled to make their mark in cup competitions leading to concerns about his ambitions.

The fact that he is yet to win a single trophy in his managerial career does not make for good reading either.

While the success of a manager cannot be gauged by just the number of trophies won, it certainly cannot be ignored and is a key point, especially while comparing with other managers of a similar caliber.

One of these managers will soon be rewarded for the work he has done, but for the other, the wait for a trophy will have to continue.


UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour presented by Heineken - Mexico City
UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour presented by Heineken - Mexico City

Fitting end to the season

The fact that these two teams are in the Champions League final is an achievement in itself and should not be undermined. And the dramatic way in which both clubs reached the final makes it even more impressive.


Liverpool v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League
Liverpool v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League

Both clubs were on the brink of exiting the tournament in the semi-finals at the halfway point in the ties.

However, Klopp and Pochettino led their teams to two of the most extraordinary comebacks in Champions League history.

Liverpool overturned a three-goal deficit from the first-leg against Messi and his Barcelona side on one of the most memorable nights at Anfield. Spurs,on the other hand, scored three goals without reply in a second-half blitz to stun Ajax.


Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg
Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg

With one hand on the trophy, only a win will do for both managers as they look to end their memorable Champions League campaigns on a high.


The future

While it may be too early to be thinking about the two managers leaving for different shores, the possibility remains wide open.

Pochettino has already hinted that he is ready to leave Spurs should he end his five-year tenure with the club by winning the Champions League.

And there are sure to be plenty of suitors for the highly rated Argentinian with Juventus, Barcelona and PSG some of the possible destinations.

The same clubs will also be looking at Klopp as a possible candidate even though he hasn't expressed any intent of leaving Merseyside. The opportunity to manage one of the biggest clubs in Europe may just tempt him into considering a switch.

The Champions League final could be an opportunity for the managers to showcase their ability to win on the biggest stage and also to enhance their reputations as one of the world's best.


Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League

All this points to a mouth-watering clash between two terrific teams. And with the stakes as high as they are, a win is all that matters in the end.

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