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Liverpool emulated Real Madrid by accelerating CL rival's spectacular collapse

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A year on from the day Liverpool secured their sixth European Cup in Madrid, the focus has predominantly centred around the achievement of Jürgen Klopp's team, capping off an extraordinary 2018/19 campaign, and how it ultimately proved to be a launchpad to go on and blitz the Premier League this season.

Relatively little, however, has been said about how that final impacted Tottenham Hotspur so profoundly at a point when they were still widely regarded as being the third-best team in England, and potentially even outsiders for a title challenge this season if they could nail the summer transfer window.



Whereas Liverpool were able to harness the bitter disappointment of Kyiv in 2018 as a powerful source of motivation to bounce back even stronger the following season, losing a European Cup final can just as easily have the polar opposite effect, crushing the morale of a team so badly that they fall off the proverbial cliff in the season immediately after.



There are some pretty spectacular post-final collapses from years gone by, such as the Sampdoria side of 1991/92, who, after losing 1-0 to Barcelona at Wembley, didn't even qualify for the UEFA Cup the following season, slumping to a seventh-place finish in Serie A. In 1995/96, Ajax lost the final on penalties to Juventus and suffered a hugely disappointing campaign thereafter, eventually finishing fourth in the Eredivisie.



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Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, after losing 2-1 to Real Madrid in the 2001/02 final – having already missed out on the Bundesliga title to Borussia Dortmund by a single point and lost the DFB-Pokal final to Schalke – ended up finishing 15th in 2002/03, only narrowly missing out on relegation.

Then there's Didier Deschamps' Monaco team of 2003/04, who lost the Champions League final 3-0 to Jose Mourinho's Porto, and were miles off the pace in Ligue 1 in 2004/05, finishing a whopping 16 points behind winners, Olympique Lyon.

Quite how terminal Tottenham's downward spiral is will only become clear in the months ahead, but as things stand, there's every chance they don't even make Europa League qualification for next season, let alone the Champions League. That could all change if they put a decent run of results together once the Premier League resumes later this month, but it would be fair to say 2019/20 has been a largely dismal one thus far.

In truth, they were already on the slide before last season's Champions League final having lost 12 times in all competitions throughout the first five months of 2019 leading up to that night in Madrid. Like Liverpool, they squeezed into the final by the skin of their teeth having toiled during the group stage, but the evidence was already there in their domestic form to suggest serious problems were lurking close beneath the surface.

That run to Madrid arguably papered over the cracks, therefore, and so perhaps it shouldn't really have been all that much of a surprise to see them underperform so badly this season, winning a measly 16 out of 43 games in all competitions up until now, and only 11 wins from 29 in the league.

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Stripped of confidence and increasingly lacking any clear identity towards the end of Maurico Pochettino's reign, it's not as if the arrival of Mourinho has radically transformed them for the better or installed any sense of long-term optimism among fans. If anything, the style of football they play is significantly less attractive, nor has the Portuguese succeeded in installing the kind of defensive solidity and discipline upon which his reputation was previously built.

Whether this sharp decline was always going to take place regardless of what happened in Madrid is up for debate, but there is an alternative theory that had they been victorious that night, Tottenham might well have had the belief and momentum to at least pose a more serious threat to Liverpool and Manchester City this season. A huge weight would've been lifted off Pochettino and the players' shoulders and they'd be riding that wave of positivity into their shiny new stadium, while Liverpool would've been left to come to terms with yet another excruciating near miss.

When watching Liverpool this season, it's clear to see just how much of a positive impact Madrid had on them, going through that collective experience of finally winning a major trophy together and seeing their hard work validated with something material to show for it. They built on that by winning the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, and that winning mentality has underpinned their stunning league campaign to date.

Tottenham, by total contrast, have taken several enormous steps backwards, to the point whereby they're almost completely unrecognisable from the dynamic, effervescent outfit they once were under Pochettino. If they do miss out on a Champions League place this season, it could be quite some time before they work their way back, as Liverpool know all too well.


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