Sissoko v Henderson, semi-final heroes: How the Champions League final could be decided

Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool go toe-to-toe tonight in the first all-English Champions League final since 2008.

Spurs, of course, overcame Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Ajax in the knockout rounds to reach the showpiece while the Reds overcame Bayern Munich, Porto and Barcelona.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men are slight underdogs following a fourth-placed finish in the Premier League compared to the Reds’ season, where they lost just once all season but still finished second.

Where will the game be lost and won in Madrid, though? Football FanCast takes a look below!

The Key Battle – Moussa Sissoko vs Jordan Henderson

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Whoever wins the midfield battle will probably win the game.

Both teams have such power in attack that it is easy to boil it down to whoever takes their chances but to take advantage of possession, you have to have it.

Sissoko and Henderson, then, are key.

The former is an exceptional ball-carrier and he thrives when taking the ball on the transition, linking defence and attack.

Henderson, meanwhile, is a shuttler, looking to close off the space afforded to his opponents.

Sissoko is a more dynamic presence but Henderson perhaps works that little bit harder; it remains to be seen who will come out on top, but each has a key role to play in Spain.

The Key Dynamic – The press

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Both Spurs and Liverpool look to press high and win the ball back in the latter third of the pitch.

Tottenham usually have Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen buzzing around the opposition backline, looking to pounce on any mistakes, while the Reds have Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, the so-called Red Arrows.

Whichever team can beat the press has an exceptional chance of winning the game due to neither side truly relying on their midfields.

Both have solid centre-back pairings – while Virgil van Dijk is probably the best defender in the world, Spurs have a better duo, in Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, than the Reds, who typically partner the Dutchman with Joel Matip – but there will be space if the front threes are bypassed.

The next step is to pick an accurate pass, find the forward and hope that he takes the opportunity.

Whichever team is more clinical will, obviously, win the game, but the first step is beating the press.

The Deciding Factor – Final nerves

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Tottenham have never been here before.

Not once have they won the competition, nor have they ever played in the final.

Liverpool have but their last experience was a painful one as they lost to Real Madrid thanks to a combination of Salah’s injury, Loris Karius’ ineptitude and Gareth Bale’s brilliance.

This is make-or-break for both teams, then.

Both stand on the precipice of achieving history – Liverpool can win a sixth European Cup, Spurs their first – and every player on the pitch is 90 minutes away from immortality.

There will be some butterflies in some stomachs but it remains to be seen who will deal with it best.

The Impact Subs – Lucas Moura vs Divock Origi

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It feels remarkably harsh to drop both Lucas Moura and Divock Origi but here we are.

If Harry Kane is fit, he should play for Spurs, and it seems inevitable that it’ll be the Brazilian who drops out instead of Son Heung-Min, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen.

Liverpool, meanwhile, seem set to have Roberto Firmino fit and that means that he will surely start alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Origi, the hero of their comeback against Barcelona, will follow in his counterpart’s footsteps, then, by sitting on the bench.

Both are pacey, skilful players with the ability to take a chance and they could each have key roles to play if their team happens to fall behind.

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