Pochettino vs Klopp: Who will exercise the demons in Madrid?

More often than not, football is a cruel game. The trophies on hand are limited, and the clubs vying for them exceed them by a healthy amount. As a result, numerous clubs and managers don’t taste silverware for extended periods. Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are two such names right now. Despite some stellar work at their clubs, a major trophy has always evaded them. One of those will break that rut in Madrid in Europe’s showpiece event.

Liverpool will face Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final on 1st June. Klopp’s Liverpool have done some great things this season. They pushed Manchester City in the Premier League title race, gaining 97 points in the process. That tally is the third-highest in the competition’s history. But City reached 98 and stole the league title from under Klopp’s nose. This is not the first time the German has been close to a significant honor at Liverpool.

In his four seasons at the club, Klopp has reached three finals. Liverpool played Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final in 2016 as Klopp looked for a trophy to round off his debut season. The Reds lost on penalties on that day. Klopp had another chance to secure silverware this season, as he faced Sevilla in the Europa League final. Sevilla won 3-1 on the night to pile misery upon Liverpool.

Last season Real Madrid awaited them in the Champions League final, but it was not to be for Klopp. Two freak goals handed Real a 3-1 triumph on the night. In Klopp’s seven finals till date, he has only won one of them. His Borussia Dortmund contested the Champions League final in 2013, only to lose 2-1 to Bayern Munich.

Meanwhile, Pochettino’s time at Spurs also has a similar story-line. He has nearly completed five seasons in north London but has not won any major trophy. The closest he came was in 2015 when Chelsea beat Spurs in the Capital One Cup final. Despite the empty cabinet, no one can undermine the work he has done at Tottenham.

Pochettino has transformed Spurs into a perennial Champions League time. His side has qualified for the tournament in each of the last four years. His greatest achievement has been the current run in the competition. In spite of no summer investment, he has guided an injured Spurs side to one win away from the ultimate prize. Pochettino has had to cope with a threadbare squad, but he has done so admirably.

When they shake hands before kickoff in Madrid, both Pochettino and Klopp will know what is at stake. One of them will be covered at glory after the final whistle, the Champions League trophy having validated his time at the club. As for the other, he will go into a dark place until next season commences. One of Pochettino and Klopp will exercise his demons in Madrid, that is for sure. How exactly it happens will be an intriguing watch.

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