Where did it go wrong for Pochettino?
After 14 years of wait… Players coming and going… Managers changing… Finally, the coveted Champions League trophy has returned back to Liverpool. Saturday night, in an all English final, Liverpool had the better of Tottenham as they came out with a 2-0 win. Tottenham were probably the better team in terms of dominating possession and having more shots than their opponent but Liverpool walked out with the trophy at the end of the game. We take a look at where it all went wrong for Mauricio Pochettino and his team.
#1 The Harry Kane gamble
Harry Kane made his first appearance after his injury in April, during the first leg of Tottenham's quarter-final win over Manchester City and it probably was a little too early for him. Kane spent the entire build-up to the Champions League convincing the fans and the opponents that he was fully fit. Come Saturday night, Harry Kane was a shadow of himself, clearly lacking fitness and game time.
Pochettino gambling Kane for a full 90 minutes didn’t really play in Tottenham’s favour. He would perhaps have been better to come on as a substitute when needed. Or in this case, Kane should probably have been off before the 90 minutes. The Harry Kane gamble might have cost Pochettino the title.
#2 Missing a trick with substitutions
Similar to Harry Kane, Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino was also returning from injury and they both struggled to make an impact on the game. Klopp had noticed that there was no use dragging Firmino till 90 minutes and brought on Divock Origi who later went on to score the second goal for Liverpool.
Pochettino, on the other hand, believed that Kane would be the key to victory for them and it unfortunately wasn’t to be. Lucas Moura, who played striker in the Champions League semi-final against Ajax, would have been a better starting choice for Tottenham given that he was their hattrick hero for the qualifications to the finals. Moura came in too late and couldn’t do much for his team.
While Klopp pulled out a masterclass with substitutes Milner and Origi, Pochettino probably missed a trick with the substitutions.
#3 Experience vs Novice
After the heartbreak against Real Madrid in Kiev, Liverpool were back this year in Madrid for their consecutive finals in a row. While last year they missed out to Real Madrid, they surely gained a lot of experience from that very outing but their opponent was a total novice in this field.
Tottenham were playing their first Champions League final and the lack of experience could be seen on the pitch. Despite having 65% possession and having 8 shots on target as compared to the 3 of Liverpool, they were unable to convert their chances up front. Liverpool, on the other hand, capitalized on an early penalty and a late Origi goal to grab their 6th Champions League title. The experience definitely played a huge role for Liverpool.
As compared to Tottenham, Liverpool perhaps had more reasons to win the Champions League. Having missed out on it in Kiev, they were ever ready for the big night Madrid. Salah’s quest to play 90 minutes without injury as compared to last year when he went out with a shoulder injury, proved to be an influencing character in the game. It looked like Liverpool’s year finally and with Pochettino getting quite a few wrongs in the game, the big ol’ ears made its way to Merseyside instead of Tottenham.