The Champions League final may have failed to live up to the hype, but there were still a handful of lessons to be learned for Fantasy Premier League managers.
Liverpool shook off the disappointment of losing last year’s final, as well as missing out on the Premier League title, to beat Tottenham 2-0.
In truth, it was a poor game, not helped by the Reds getting an early goal.
In fact, no player scored more than 6.55 on the BBC’s player-rater app, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson edging their man of the match award.
In arguably unfortunate circumstances, Moussa Sissoko was penalised in the box as Sadio Mané kicked the ball at his chest, which ricocheted onto his upper arm.
Mohamed Salah reminded us once again of his position in the penalty pecking order by dispatching the spot-kick two minutes into the game.
With James Milner‘s regularity of starts continuing to diminish, he was named on the bench for the Champions League final, Salah is facing less competition for penalties.
After the 2018/19 pre-season campaign, it looked as Mané might be in with a shout for them, but Saturday proved once again that Salah still has that advantage over his colleague when it comes to Fantasy appeal.
Either way, an early lead for Liverpool proved to be the worst thing for neutral spectators hoping for an open contest.
It allowed them to spend the rest of the final doing what they’ve best this season: defend.
Jurgen Klopp’s men never had to stretch themselves or go on the offensive for an extended period during the match.
Their attacking full-backs Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander–Arnold provided some width but spent most of the game considerably more withdrawn than usual.
That made sure that Spurs did not have much joy down the flanks and it became almost too easy for Virgil van Dijk to keep Harry Kane under wraps.
It was a bold call by Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino to start the England international so soon after his recovery from the latest ankle injury, although he does have a decent goal-scoring record against Liverpool.
It was his first start since sustaining the knock against Manchester City in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals back on April 9.
Pochettino deployed Kane as the lone centre-forward in a 4-2-3-1 system, which arguably limited what they could achieve in attack.
After some success operating in a front-two, Son Heung–min was stationed on the left of attacking midfield, while semi-final hat-trick hero Lucas Moura was only on the bench.
Not surprisingly, the pace and guile of the Brazilian winger was what sparked Spurs into life in the last 25 minutes, but it was too little too late.
As already mentioned, Liverpool seemed largely content to sit back and let Spurs struggled to break them down.
In fact, the Reds ended up recording just 35.4% possession in the game.
Admittedly, Alisson was forced into a few big saves in the closing stages but Spurs never really looked like scoring.
That failure to trouble Liverpool could potentially spark a debate in Pochettino’s mind about how to correctly use Kane.
This was not the first time this season that Spurs’ tendency to focus all their play on their star striker has left them a bit too one-dimensional.
The success of Son and Moura in his absence could see Pochettino move to a front-two for 2019/20, but we’ll have to keep an eye on their pre-season campaign for indications of that.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Rose, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Trippier; Winks (Moura 66′), Sissoko (Dier 74′); Son, Eriksen, Alli (Llorente 82′); Kane.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum (Milner 62′), Fabinho, Henderson; Mané (Gomez 90′), Firmino (Origi 58′), Salah.
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